Potential students can college browse via computer disk

November 02, 1993|By Arden Moore | Arden Moore,Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

College-bound high school seniors can now take a walking tour of Tulane University in New Orleans without leaving their towns.

With a few clicks of a computer mouse, students can pinpoint the top three colleges in the country that best meet their needs within minutes.

In some instances, they can bypass the mailbox and deliver student profiles and applications via a computer modem to certain colleges. They can listen to students and professors talk about specific degree programs or social activities from the computer screen.

Tapping into a computer-literate generation, college admission directors say the personal computer is the latest recruiting tool being used to snare the nation's top students.

About 50 universities have produced interactive software programs to promote their schools to college-bound students, national education experts say.

"The competition for the best students in this country is absolutely fierce," said Richard Whiteside, director of enrollment management at Tulane. "This is just one more attractive way to bring an institution to students."

Whether this gives computer-savvy schools an edge over their peers, it's too early to tell, but the innovation has admission directors paying close attention.

"In the next five years, we will all be doing something like this or be perceived as being very backward," said Linda Glover, director of admissions at Stetson University in Deland, Fla.

In addition, a national off-line computer network called CollegeView will soon deliver basic information about the nation's 2,800 colleges and universities to high school students at 1,500 schools.

Universities willing to pay $25,000 can have campus maps, video tours of academic departments and student housing, interviews with faculty and students and campus life scenes included in the computer program.

For high schools, the annual subscription cost is $695. There is no charge to students.

Interactive computer software programs can make glossy brochures and campus videotapes appear routine or outdated, admission directors say.

Tulane mailed 3,600 campus computer disks to top students this year which offer first an aerial view of the campus and then a close-up of particular buildings.

A prospective student can get information quicker from a computer than wading through a 100-page campus book or 60-minute videotape, said Fred Zuker, vice chancellor for enrollment management at the University of California-Riverside.

But even interactive computer programs are no match for face-to-face interviews or campus visits, said Marcia Hunt, a high school guidance director who is also president-elect of the Southern Association of College Admission Counselors.

"This helps parents and students narrow their choices, but there is nothing like a campus visit," she said. "People don't buy a house without making several visits; investing $125,000 in a college without seeing it doesn't make sense."

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