How to Utilize Your School Website for College Applications
By: Jeffrey Li
The fall of senior year in high school tends to be one of the most stressful and busiest periods in someone’s educational career. As the provider of educational experiences and services, it’s vital that schools ease the burden on their seniors and make the experience of applying to college as smooth as possible. There are a number of ways that schools can go about doing this, specifically utilizing technology to make the process more efficient and enjoyable. In my experience, having graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (Lab) in 2014, using a streamlined website hosted by the school or a third-party makes a huge difference in going through the application process.
Streamlining the process
One thing my school did really well and I appreciate to this day was utilizing the Common Application website as the go-to resource for applications. Everything from inviting recommendation writers to writing your own essays was handled on one platform and it was a relatively simple process of staying up to date on the status of each application. This contrasts with the experiences of seniors applying when paper applications were more prevalent and the waiting game was much longer.
Lab was also proactive compared to other schools in disseminating information about the process and laying out the resources we could refer to. This manifested itself in the form of various workshops at the end of junior year and in the fall of senior year. The college counselor’s accessibility was also vital, we could set up a meeting within the week through email or just drop in when they were free. Whereas I’ve heard from peers that their college application process was largely done on their own without much guidance or help from their schools. Being proactive on all sides of the process is important for a smooth application process, if you’re not sure about something, please reach out to your teachers and consult online resources.
Keeping your school website up-to-date
My school’s website and content management system were relatively clunky and outdated. In order to find the contact information of a teacher or person needed for a recommendation letter or portion of the application, you had to use the paper school directory rather than find it through an online database. Teachers also rarely posted assignments online and updates were usually shared in class. But with new school websites these days, teachers are able to easily post assignments, due dates, and updates to their teacher pages.
The efficiency and utility of school websites are crucial during this hectic period of senior year. I wish Lab had a website and platform that could easily send out announcements, alerts, and event notifications like website and platforms do these days. The school, student, and family relationship was less connected a few years ago, so announcements were made in person or in a weekly email or newsletter. However, an administrator or teacher can easily push out a text or email digitally without disrupting a person’s daily workflow.
I’m a senior majoring in economics with a concentration in global development studies at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. I’m excited to be spending my 3rd summer in the tech industry interning at Edlio and being able to leverage technology to make a positive impact in the education space. At Grinnell, I’m entering my 2nd year as the photo editor of the newspaper and 8th year doing photojournalism work as well as playing on the soccer team.