Created By: YOUniversityTV, LLC
Focus: Virtual college tours, college-and-career prep
Big Picture: This gangly-but-useful site is all about the videos (hundreds of them, in fact), providing students with virtual tours of most of the country’s major public and private universities. To get full access, users need to register, either by a small form or using links to accounts like Facebook or Google. Once signed up, students can search college-tour videos by state or criteria, as well as view an equally impressive number of videos highlighting careers and professions. A social media aspect to the site allows users to create a profile, connect with other students, blog, and post videos and the like. A Cool Stuff section offers some links to sponsored financial aid and test prep sites.
Big Challenge Solved: Did we mention the videos? Previewing college campuses before you decide to visit often means going to each college’s website and hunting around. Here, you get a bevy of informative, entertaining video tours without ever having to leave the site. (It also serves as a good alternative for students unable to visit out-of-state colleges.)
Must Use: The College Tips section of the site is a total must-see, with super-helpful inside looks at university living like tips on destroying your pre-exam nervousness. How's that for getting ahead?
Most Unique Tool: Clicking on the college links found in a search on the College Video Tours page quickly brings up an embedded Google map of the campus area.
Best Middle-School Student Tool: Secret Diaries is a blog kept by one of the site’s “correspondents.” In it, she documents her experience from beginning to end of her senior year in high school. For middle-schoolers, it’s an engaging look at what’s to come.
Best High-School Student Tool: Facebook fans won’t be that impressed with the less-elegant social media tool in the Students section, but the ease of use in setting up a profile and connecting with other users may be enough to keep students hanging around for a chat or blog.
Protip: The site’s structure is not terribly user-friendly, and navigation is clunky, so on both Mac and Windows we found Firefox to be the most compatible browser. Using it doesn’t make the site magically clean and sophisticated, but it helps.