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Summer 2011

The College Search Made Easier

Go See Campus screenshotThe campus visit is a significant and memorable occasion for students and parents involved in the college search, but organizing the adventure can sometimes be a nightmare.

When Kevin Preis, Ed.M.’07, witnessed family members struggling with the challenges of finding information about campus tours, keeping track of admissions details, and getting reliable advice on their college searches, he immediately went online to look for an itinerary planning tool for college visits. To his surprise, he came up empty. He began thinking about his own college admissions process — both the good moments and the difficult ones — and decided to use his computer programming knowledge to build a website that would make the college search a more engaging, enjoyable experience.

The result was Go See Campus, a free website that helps students and parents plan campus visits online and make the most of the college search. Among other resources, the site includes what Preis believes is a first-of-its-kind web tool that connects users to campus tours, information sessions, and other admissions activities.

“Now students and parents can go to a single website,” he says, “choose the schools they want to visit, learn about admissions activities on campus, build an itinerary for their trip, and get resources like campus maps, parking directions, nearby dining options, and events calendars.” By compiling all this information in one place, Go See Campus saves users the headache of scouring each individual college website for admissions details.

In addition to students and parents, Preis says that high school counselors have used the website as a complement to their work advising students throughout the college search process. Since Preis made it one of his goals to provide as many helpful resources as possible for counselors, Go See Campus has a growing library of advice articles on topics like deciding how many colleges to visit, what questions to ask during campus tours, and how to prepare for admissions interviews.

“Counselors have told me that they often refer their students to these articles. In addition, some counselors plan trips to visit campuses with their students or as part of their own professional development,” he says. “They’ll use Go See Campus to plot their routes, get campus maps, and find contact information for admissions officers.” New initiatives include a counselor’s newsletter that began last fall to provide updates on new site features and relevant professional development opportunities.

Preis, a graduate of the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) Program, senses that digital media is quickly becoming a larger part of the college search.

“Students are still learning about schools through college websites, but they are also exploring them through third-party sites and social media,” he says. “As a result, some of the decisionmaking about whether to apply to a specific college happens away from the school’s official channels. I imagine we’ll soon see colleges investing in new technology and platforms to reach potential applicants.”

To enhance the site’s utility, Preis plans to add a number of new features. For example, the College Trip Planner’s Map Creator currently allows users to plot and save a driving route from one school to the next; a future update will give the option to find nearby colleges along the route.

Several years post-graduation, Preis still maintains relationships with his Harvard classmates and professors, many of whom have provided helpful advice and feedback on his business ventures.

“More generally,” he says, “the Ed School’s TIE Program allowed me to explore emerging technologies and to think about how they could apply to learning and communication. Go See Campus is a product of that exploration.”

— Mateo Corby is a senior at Harvard College.

— Connect to Go See Campus at www.goseecampus.com.