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Technology eases burden of college search

Long before the first tuition bill is due, families wrestle with the expenses of touring prospective colleges, which can carry a hefty tab depending on the extensiveness of a college search.

But thanks to technology, colleges are helping today’s high school students – a generation born and raised in the digital age – shrink those costs by conducting thorough searches without having to leave home.

“Technology is where the (college search) process begins now,” says Morgan Allen, assistant director of marketing for undergraduate admissions at the University of South Carolina.

College websites, along with social media (blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), provide students with information, a glimpse into campus life and a chance to interact with admissions counselors and enrolled students, Allen says.

Summer is a great time for researching colleges, particularly for rising high-school seniors,” Allen says. “Also, the more selective schools will have early application deadlines in October.”

Allen says the best starting place for a college search is a college or university’s main website. That is where students will find links to important areas such as admissions, visitor centers, academic departments, student life, financial aid and housing.

While it sounds basic, Allen says too often students will bypass this primary portal and limit their virtual visit to only one facet of a college.

Denise Wellman, director of Carolina’s Visitor Center, says students should check out the size, proximity and location (urban or rural) of the campus, admissions standards, the breadth of majors available, cost and financial-aid opportunities, athletics, student organizations and enrichment opportunities, such as study abroad or undergraduate research programs.

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