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No Time For A Road Trip? How To Explore Colleges From Home!

    First Posted: 12/06/11 11:36 AM ET   Updated: 12/06/11 11:43 AM ET


'Tis the season for cold weather, finals week and college visits. However, for some students, on-campus visits are sadly out of reach. Due to time constraints, travel costs or prior commitments, you may not have the means to get an in-person preview of the potential college campus of your dreams. So, what do you do? With a little creativity and tech-savvy smarts, your very own version of a college visit can still happen!

Get Online
The first resource you should consult for in-depth information about a college is its official website. However, be sure to look beyond the generic facts like campus size, location, courses of study and degree programs. If possible, hunt down a list of student organizations and jot down a few contact names and emails. For example, if you are an upcoming journalism major, contact the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper to get a feel for the campus and student life. Once you get in touch with the editor-in-chief, ask her about the ins and outs of running a college newspaper, how easy it is to become involved with the publication and her thoughts about the school itself, for example. Even if you’re not interested in journalism, a school newspaper is a great starting place to ask a lot of your burning questions about campus life, because the reporters must constantly stay in-the-know about on-campus events, traditions and the overall culture of the school.

Talk to Alumni
Brandeis University senior Asya Bashina says that getting in touch with alumni from the school can give students a firsthand account of what it's like to attend there. Most colleges offer an alumni resource page on their website, where students new and old alike can see where alumni are currently working and read about their overall college experience. "I did not visit most of the colleges on my list and I got into some of the ones I did not visit," Asya said. "If your high school has alumni who attend or attended the schools you're applying to, then schedule a time to meet with them to talk about student life and academics. Try to gauge whether the school is right for you from your conversation with them." Talk to your high school guidance counselor about getting in touch with graduates of your high school who attended the colleges you’re considering.

Take a Virtual Tour
Another way to get connected to your prospective campus online is through a virtual tour. Many college campuses have picked up on the trend of offering potential new freshmen an in-depth look at their future terrain by showcasing the entire campus via video tour.

"James Madison University actually has a virtual campus tour online, and the student ambassadors who give tours in person give the virtual tour," says JMU freshman Kathleen Kalinsky. "During the 'tour' there are fun facts and 'to-dos' about JMU that are also given on the in-person tours."

Popular sites like CampusTours, eCampusTours, and YOUniversityTV all give upcoming college freshmen a sneak peek into college campuses around the country. CampusTours is the most diverse and informative option; it allows students an in-depth look at their future campus through video tours, photorealistic tours and interactive campus maps. With most of the biggest universities in the country represented, CampusTours has uploaded previews of an assortment of schools in nearly all 50 states.

Click here to read the rest of the article on HerCampus.com.




Also on The Huffington Post, the top 5 largest colleges in America:
1. Arizona State University--Tempe, Arizona: 58,371 students
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Arizona State University has four campuses, but the Tempe location has the largest enrollment with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Tempe is in metropolitan Phoenix, so you'll have the experiences of both going to a large university and going to college in an urban city, so if you're a small-town girl, ASU will definitely help you come out of your shell!

ASU is known for its football team, the Sun Devils, but their academic renown in engineering and nursing programs attracts scholars from all over the globe in addition to athletes on their way to the professional level. Arizona State boasts more than 13,300 out-of-state and international students, and has a freshman retention rate of over 80 percent, which is significantly higher than most undergraduate institutions. It's been ranked as one of the Top 100 world universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and has top programs in a variety of concentrations. Its Tillman Center also offers one of the best support facilities for student veterans.

In a promotional video on ASU's website, Maisoon, a biochemistry major, says that Arizona State offers "such a unique energy" because her classes and extracurricular activities allow her to meet students from every part of the world and expand her own world view as well as theirs. Other students in the video agree - even though the student population is so large, the student body works together as a whole, which makes a large campus less intimidating.
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