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New online tools, designed to help students and families navigate the college planning and application process, are constantly springing up. Many of these are quite well done and can be valuable resources- helping students research schools, learn about admission requirements, and explore majors. Others fall short, giving students biased, incomplete or even inaccurate information. As a profession and as individuals, I think it is important that we remember and assert our importance as influential people. While a program can use data and an algorithm to produce a list of possible colleges and majors based on a predefined set of questions, it cannot have a conversation with a student. Nor can it help a student interpret, expand on or put the results of a survey in context. Research shows that students that have the opportunity to meet with a college counselor/advisor face to face, even for limited time, are more apt to attend and graduate college. They are also less apt to transfer colleges. Online surveys, assessments and planning tools definitely have their place in college preparation but need to be looked at as tools and not a substitute for counseling.

How do you utilize online tools in your office and do you have any you highly recommend?

By Shan Schumacher