Have you ever wondered which college you would fit in the best? You have spent countless hours researching schools with your dream major, ideal weather, city size, and all other “necessary” academic parameters such as SAT score, Admit Rate, Avg., GPA etc. etc. But if you hate the next 4 to 6 years of your life, the weather won’t cheer you up, and the city size won’t help much!
There is no question about the fact that your peers will have a significant influence on your college experience. In this article, we will show you five hacks to find the college that has folks you want to hang out with, form lifelong friendships, and maybe even tie the knot.
1: The Google Hack
This is an awesome hack that can quickly give you an impression of what goes down at each school. Open up the Google search and search for the term: “<school name>” + “pranks”. Insert the name of your target school in <school name>.
Example terms: “MIT pranks”
Voila, you will see a list of pranks that MIT students have famously pulled – from dragging cars to the top of the MIT Dome, to making Pac-Man and Blinky appear on the scaffolding covering the Great Dome during reconstruction in 2013.
You will also get a list of links to Wikipedia, Wired Magazine, and MIT website itself where you can read about the “mostly nerdy’ pranks or hacks as they are called, pulled by MIT students.
Let’s take another example: “Georgia Tech pranks”
You can get a lot of dirt on the Georgia Tech and UGA rivalry, including a Georgia Tech student hacking UGA’s website.
You get the idea now try it.
2. The Life with Filters – Instagram – Hack
A picture is worth a thousand words, and if you add a filter to the picture, the words become memorable – first heard on LifeHack in this post ;)
Almost every school has an Instagram account, and even though it is maintained by the school, looking at the images can give you a fantastic idea of the life and experience the school promotes. From the beautiful outdoorsy pictures on UC Berkeley’s Instagram to the amazing skyline and buzz of New York City highlighted in the Columbia University’s Instagram, you can get the feel of the student environment.
3. The Artificial Intelligence – GoSchoolWise – Hack
Sometimes it is better to sit back and let the world’s smartest supercomputer – IBM Watson (the computer that beat a human in the game of Jeopardy) do the hard work.
GoSchoolWise.com, a startup that uses Data Analytics and AI to help high school students and their parents with college admissions, uses IBM Watson to analyze the social media activity of colleges and creates a detailed profile of students at those schools called the SchoolDNA. You can go to each college page and see its SchoolDNA.
See example traits of students at Harvard
Here is another example of students at UT Austin:
But guess what? GoSchoolWise.com has taken this a step further with a handy tool that analyzes your writing (e.g., essay, tweets), and determines your personality (it is actually fun to learn about yourself) and finds out how well you will fit in at each of your target schools. You can see the full student traits, and get your personality analysis as many times as you want with a free account.
4. The Motion Picture – Youtube Hack
Static images are powerful, but sometimes seeing a video can make for a more immersive experience. Like Instagram, most schools have an official Youtube account. Some schools might even have multiple accounts focused on different aspects – Admissions, Sports, Student Life etc.
Watching a school’s Youtube videos can give you a good sense of what to expect from a school. In a lot of Youtube videos, you can directly hear from current students about their experience as well. However, take this with a grain of salt. No school will publish a video of a student who has less than stellar things to say about her or his experience at the school.
Check out the Youtube video of Stanford University
Another of University of Central Florida
5. The Student Reviews – Niche – Hack
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the unfiltered reviews from students? Well, there is a website for that – Niche.com.
You can search thousands of colleges and read what current students have to say about the school. Also, the website aggregates the reviews in different categories, and you can get a good idea of how a school does on a number of different dimensions such as Academics, Athletics, Party Scene, Greek Life etc.
Here are some reviews for University of Pennsylvania:
“The teachers are helpful and are there when students need help. The students are driven to do there work and help the others around them when they don’t get it.”
“Greek life has a definite presence at my school, but plenty of people do not participate as well. Non-Greeks do not really think differently about Greeks, since everyone here is clearly intelligent and unique or else they would not have gotten in.”
Grades for Carnegie Mellon University:
Campus Quality: B
Off-Campus Dining: A-
Party Scene: B+
Remember, the hacks here are not to substitute the “boring”, but necessary search you have to do to find the school based on your desired major, academic stats etc. These hacks are to supplement that search. Good luck.