How to judge an admissions/scholarship service web site

Between list servs and emails, I generally get two to twenty web sites each week encouraging me to encourage you to visit. These usually follow a similar script, saying they are providing free information to you regarding admissions or scholarships.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been working hard to review these sites…there are just too stinkin’ many of them to bother keeping track, kind of like all the blogs from admissions officers that keep popping up (I of course refer to other blogs – this one, as you know, is special. No really. Stop smirking.). As a general rule, I found most of these sites to provide reasonable information, and a few even offer something interesting. If I mention one here it’s either because:

A) I checked them out and was fascinated by the sophisticated and deeply insightful information and/or the incredibly helpful free service they provide or

B) They agreed to plug this blog and/or George Mason Univesity, and I am shamelessly self-promoting.

Fair warning that many of these sites are funded from three sources: 1) the site is owned by an organization that lends students money, and wants to lend you money; 2) the site sells advertising from companies that want to lend you money, or sell you something else and/or; 3) the site will sell you name anywhere and everywhere it can.

Now if you’re like me, you really don’t care about your name being sold as long as there’s not enough information to steal your identity (I am also safe as no one else wants to be me). Many of these sites also offer “opt outs” from having your name released, sold, and written on bathroom walls, but some make these options hard to find. If you would prefer not to have your name distributed to whichever credit card companies, lenders, testing agencies, and marital aid salespeople are purchasing lists, be a bit wary of these registration processes and look for opportunities to limit their ability to use your name before you hit submit.

Since I’ve had so many questions about these sites, I’ll try to check out at least one a week and add it to the blog roll and maybe write a bit about it (perhaps refuting what they claim as college admission advice just for fun). If you’re worried about privacy, however, no need to hit the posted links. This site, of course, remains gloriously free from data collection and the only “cookies” we serve are my crumbs of wisdom, so to speak, as long as you can stand my fanatical allegiance to the George Mason University. Also, did I mention how great Mason is today? Be seeing you.


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