Home shopping network: CD-ROMs facilitate college search process - Higher Education

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Home shopping network: CD-ROMs facilitate college search process

by Eric St. John

With a seventeen-year-old high school junior for a son, the time
has come once again to go college shopping. And as one of those guys
who hates to shop, I naturally was looking for something that would
allow me to visit a university or two hundred without leaving home.
After all, travel expenses can be…well, expensive.

So imagine my joy at finding not one, but two CD-ROMs which provide
information, supplemented by sites on the World Wide Web, on thousands
of higher education institutions. And one of them a multimedia
presentation, too?

College View has come out with a new version of its College Search
CD-ROM program — this one designed for consumers, not just educational
institutions. It contains information on 3,550 two- and four-year
colleges and universities.

The program offers the ability to customize the search process
based on a dozen variables such as the location, size of the community
surrounding the school, distance from home, types of degrees offered,
racial breakdown of student population, and financial aid packages.

If more information is desired, the program offers two
alternatives: it generates letters which can be used to request
additional information from the schools being considered; and the
College View Web edition allows users to contact admission offices for
information or to file an application for admission.

The Web site also offers another valuable asset — the Coffee Shop.
Here, interactive messages and chat rooms help users locate students at
the institution being appraised to discuss life on that campus.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the program, however, is
its multimedia capabilities. Brief audio and video presentations allow
Users to view “snapshots” of selected institutions.

One aspect of the program that did bother me was the criteria for
examining the racial makeup of an institution. College View considers
10 percent to be the threshold for minority populations. In other
words, if you are looking for a historically Black institution, you
will get a list of every school which has a student population that is
at least ten percent Black.

The producers of College View also put out two other CD-ROM
programs for students — CareerView, which allows users to match their
own personal interests and abilities with a multitude of professional
careers; and Scholarship, which allows families to search more than
3,000 scholarship sources.

College View is only available for use on a Windows-based home
personal computer. Because of the multimedia aspect, it requires
several system specifications, including: a sixteen-bit audio card; a
minimum of eight megabytes of RAM, although sixteen megabytes is
recommended; a minimum of nineteen megabytes of free hard drive space;
a double-speed CD-Rom drive; and a color monitor and video card capable
of SVGA 640×480. College View costs $40.

The College Quest CD-ROM supplements Peterson’s Four-Year Colleges
— one of a series of search resources that includes Peterson’s
Two-Year Colleges, Honors Programs, Visual and Performing Arts, Choose
a Christian College, and the Smart Parents Guide to College.

This program has no multimedia component. And although it is
similar to College View in many ways, it does offer something different
— SAT and ACT test preparation.

College Quest also provides information on financial aid and generates letters for use when communicating with schools.

But College Quest’s biggest asset is the guide in which it comes, a
3,200-page tome with photos that — aside from the listings —
discusses how to choose a college, survive standardized tests, prepare
for the admissions process, and assess financial aid packages.

The book profiles student population, graduation requirements,
campus facilities like libraries and computer access, and what can be
expected after graduation. It also gives admission requirements and
application information.

Aside from the CD-ROM drive, College Quest needs no special
hardware for your Windows-based home personal computer. It is free —
almost. To get it, you must pay $24.95 for the guide it comes in.

Peterson’s does not have a College Quest Web site, but it does have
POLARIS — Peterson’s Online Application, Registration and Information
Service. POLARIS is a free admissions service that gives college-bound
users information on organizing and managing the application process.

For more information about College View, visit the Web site at http:/www.collegeview.com or call 800-92 7-8439.

For more information, about Peterson’s College Quest, call
800-388-3282. The address for POLARIS is
<http://www.ApplyToCollege.com>

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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