Back to your future: Turning 17 the second time round

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could hop in Doc’s DeLorean, fire up the flux capacitator and hurtle back in time to when you were seventeen, still in high school and trying to decide what university or college you should attend? Would you still pledge allegiance to your alma mater or would you have done a little more research before making your final decision?

In fact, forget about Doc and his DeLorean, what would you do if you were 17 in today’s technologically superior society? Chances are you wouldn’t still be waiting for the postman to deliver a heavy stack of catalogs for you to wade through. In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that you would make use of the information available at your fingertips and begin researching suitable institutions on your laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Today’s students have access to a wealth of knowledge about any college or university just about anywhere in the world. Students can research schools through a variety of different online channels; the university website and various social media sites being the most common avenues for students to explore.

Here’s what we would do if we could snap our fingers and find ourselves 17 again:

Visit university websites

We would make a definitive list of schools that are of interest and then visit each of their websites. We would be hoping to find websites that:

  • Can be easily navigated
  • Contain relevant, student centric information
  • Are Smartphone and tablet friendly (Feature a responsive design)

A website that is difficult to search or that doesn’t contain clear, concise information about study programs, how to qualify, cost of attendance and financial aid would probably cause us to swiftly cross that college or university off our list.

Release our inner social media stalker

Like it or not, social media has become a veritable juggernaut. According to a survey carried out by, 75% of students use social media as a resource when researching prospective schools. While facebook is the most widely-used social media platform students are increasingly beginning to turn to sites such as Instagram and twitter to help them select their college or university. Social media platforms provide prospective students with a better sense of what their student life would be like.

Uversity’s report also found that over 30 percent of prospective students have searched for hashtags that relate to their college search reaffirming the importance of owning and utilizing your university’s unique hashtag.

If we were 17 again, we would definitely be searching facebook pages and hashtags to see how schools are interacting with prospective and current students on social media.

Get involved in online conversations

Who better to get the inside scoop from than real-life students? If we could make like Cher and turn back time we would definitely look through forums and social media sites to get the inside scoop. Information from students who are currently attending your prospective institution can provide a real insight into what life on campus is like, the cost of living and whether a particular programme of study is as worthwhile as it sounds.

Many universities nowadays have specific social media pages for prospective students where they can get in touch with fellow applicants, admissions counselors and current students. Today’s digitally connected students expect to be able to get in touch with current students, counselors and other prospective students. Universities need to ensure that they are making use of all avenues to engage prospective students.

Check out other online resources

According to the Uversity report, almost 90% of students surveyed have used a college review or ranking site such as Zinch when researching a school. Content Aggregators like Zinch or College Prowler are a great place to start when researching schools.

Today’s students have the benefit of being able to choose from a global network of higher education institutions. Students have become consumers, searching for the best deal their money and grades can buy. There’s no doubt that the higher education landscape has changed dramatically over the past number of years; tuition costs are soaring while graduates can no longer be assured of secure employment.

It’s not all bad though, today’s students are also finding themselves in the driving seat; they have far more choices when it comes to selecting a school and with the internet at their disposal, a far better chance of making the right choice.

While we don’t have hoverboards, self lacing sneakers or flying cars we’re pretty sure that if Marty McFly was to arrive in 2015, he would be pretty impressed with how far we’ve come.