QuickWire: Digital Tools for College Prep Still Miss Many Students

As more and more aspects of higher education become digitized or enhanced by technology, the process of applying to college and planning a successful career there has followed suit. The problem? Students still fall through the cracks.

A new report looks at the plethora of digital tools marketed to students to help them get into and make the most of college. It tackles individual websites and mobile apps, like College Confidential and Find Tuition, and provides a comprehensive look at what each offers.

The report, “How Is Technology Addressing the College Access Challenge?,” was released by Get Schooled, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to increase high-school graduation rates and improve students’ success in college. It looks at almost 200 college-prep websites and mobile-phone apps.

According to the report, many lower-income and younger students tend to be left out of the initial college-prep process. That’s because not all students have ready access to the Internet, and most of the relevant websites are aimed at high-school juniors and seniors, it says. The report suggests that if students are involved in the process earlier, they are more likely to apply to college.

It also concludes that the number of tools is overwhelming and that there’s not one “go-to” website that walks students though the entire college-planning process, from admission through graduation. The few sites that come closest to doing it all tend to cost money to use or to require an adult’s help to navigate, putting them out of reach of some students, the report says.

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