Tech and the Modern College Student: Best Tools for Students

Researching, applying and paying for college is whole lot easier with the help of these technological tools.

By Ashley Henshaw | February 26, 2016

Students today are more technologically knowledgeable than ever.
Photo: Thinkstock

Students today are more technologically knowledgeable than ever. Whether it’s on their smart phone or their computer, modern high school students are craving more technology tools to help them research college. If you’re one of these tech-savvy teens, there are plenty of great online resources available to help you through the college admissions process. The following are some of the most reliable and informative technology tools for college-bound students.

College Search Tools

Today, online search tools are the best place to start when it comes to finding a college match. The initial onslaught of college information can be overwhelming, but these search tools effectively narrow down the options to help you find the schools you’ll find the most interesting.

New technology allows students to access a wealth of information at the click of a mouse.

The Campus Explorer college search tool offers a streamlined way to find interesting colleges and universities. However, there are several other great search engines that can provide detailed information. The following are some of the best college search tools available:

  • College Navigator: Offered by the National Center for Education Statistics, this is one of the prime search tools for college data. You’ll find hard numbers regarding financial aid packages, student enrollment, test scores, retention and more.
  • College Board: This site is great for looking at academic profiles for each college’s freshman class. Plus, there are interesting options for narrowing your search, including the percentage of minority students, special housing options (like alcohol-, drug- or smoke-free dorms) or whether the school grants credit for CLEP exams.
  • U.S. News and World Report: Since they report national college rankings each year, U.S. News and World Report has amassed a large amount of college-related data. As an added bonus, you’ll see college rankings pop up in your search results.

Today, online search tools are the best place to start when it comes to finding a college match.
Photo: Thinkstock

Financial Aid Tools

For most families, financial aid is perhaps the biggest piece of the college admissions puzzle. The numbers can be deceiving when it comes to college costs, especially since tuition rates alone only account for a portion of college expenses. A number of helpful tech tools have been developed in recent years to aid students in deciphering the often-confusing world of college financial aid. The following online tools are among the best financial aid resources for students:

  • Net Price Calculators: Rather than tuition rates, you need to be looking at net price, which is a better indicator of what the costs will be at each college. As a result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, all colleges and universities that accept federal aid are required to provide a net price calculator for prospective students. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education offers a helpful tool for locating net price calculators.
  • FAFSA: Once you have an idea of what your base costs will be (thanks to net price calculators), it’s time to think about student loans. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a must for all college-bound students – you’ll find out what aid you qualify for, and then you can choose what you want from those options.
  • FAFSA4caster: You may be anxious to know how much federal aid you’ll receive before you file the FAFSA. The FAFSA4caster tool uses basic information to provide an estimate that can go a long way in helping you plan for college.
  • Federal Student Aid: While filing the FAFSA may be relatively easy, understanding student loans isn’t so simple. One of the most comprehensive guides to federal aid can be found at the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website. The site provides students with vital information about the types of aid available, eligibility and loan repayment.
  • Scholarship Search Tools: The search for scholarships is best started by investigating opportunities at the college you plan to attend. But beyond that, there are millions of dollars available in scholarships from non-profit organizations, charitable foundations and national and local businesses. Some of the most reputable scholarship search tools are available at The College Board, FastWeb and FinAid.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: This government website offers helpful information and a great comparison tool for looking at college costs at specific institutions.
  

Smartphone Apps and Social Media

According to a study noted on OnlineSchools.com, more than two-thirds of prospective college students have used their smartphone to check out college websites. Meanwhile, about 50 percent of the students surveyed said they would fill out and submit college applications from their mobile device. An increasing number of schools are designing their own mobile apps for students, but actually applying via smartphone is still quite rare. When it comes to the admissions process, check out the Naviance Student mobile app, which provides great tools for researching colleges and planning campus visits.

Social media provides another way for tech-savvy students to learn more about the college experience. Facebook and Twitter let you get a feel for what’s happening on campus and the type of experience you might have if you enrolled.

Social media provides another way for tech-savvy students to learn more about the college experience.
Photo: Thinkstock

These great technology tools allow students to access a wealth of information at the click of a mouse. However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to work through all of this information on your own. Make an appointment with your college counselor to learn more about the best ways to utilize these tech tools in your college search. He or she will help you find the most reliable information while also walking you through the steps of the college application process.

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