New .College Domain Is Opportunity for Some Colleges, Worry for Others

A college’s online presence isn’t as simple as the classic .edu. The college also has to worry about .com, .net, and .org, to protect its good name. And as of this week, there’s another domain type to worry about: .college.

On Tuesday colleges with registered trademarks were given first dibs at .college domains. Trademark holders are eligible to register and obtain domains that exactly match their trademarks — at no charge — until April 17. Another registration phase begins on April 20.

When new domain types were first discussed, there was “some discussion, some excitement, and some hand wringing” about what they might mean for colleges, said Gregory A. Jackson, who was formerly vice president for policy at Educause, an academic-technology organization, and chief information officer at the University of Chicago.

Some people in higher ed took the “who cares” approach, either because they didn’t think anyone looked at web addresses or because it would be impossible to keep up with all of them, Mr. Jackson said.

Others considered claiming as many domains as they could. There are a number of reasons that acquiring additional domains might be useful.

For colleges that didn’t obtain the ideal domain under .edu, it’s a second chance. Mr. Jackson gave as an example the University of Chicago, which has rather than

Others will claim additional domains to protect themselves. In fact, most institutions are likely to acquire them as an act of defense, Mr. Jackson said. Better to scoop up a handful of domains, perhaps distributing them to student groups, than to risk having some other organization or person grab the name and use it in a way that could be misleading or embarrassing.

And .college isn’t the only domain they now must worry about. Mr. Jackson said there’s also a lot of discussion about .sucks, a domain any institution really wouldn’t want to lose track of, given its potential to paint a college in a negative light.

Many institutions will claim the obvious domains, Mr. Jackson said, but there are endless possibilities. The question is, he said, do you claim every single domain you can think of, or “just throw up your hands and say, at some point, this becomes too confusing”?

“It’s an opportunity for some, a modest hassle for others,” Mr. Jackson said. “And I would guess, here and there, it’s going to be a major hassle for places that don’t think of this, and someone goes and claims the name they wish they had, and uses it in a way the university wishes they wouldn’t.”

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