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College Board Launches New Web Resource for Students

Today the College Board launched a free resource on its website, BigFuture, aimed at engaging students in the college-planning and -search process. With bolder graphics, more videos, and a process that draws in users with questions, the tool is pumping up the hip factor in an appeal to tech-savvy students.

BigFuture has information on finding colleges, paying for your education, and making a college plan. About 60 percent of the content on Big Future is repackaged material already available on the College Board website and the rest is brand-new topics, says Roy Ben-Yoseph, executive director of digital products for College Board, a New York-based non-profit that administers the SAT, AP, and other programs. The material was developed in collaboration with an advisory group of educators and Education Conservancy, a nonprofit based in Portland, Ore., focused on improving the admissions process.

This idea was to create an interactive, user-friendly resource in response to concerns that the college-admissions process is becoming increasingly complex and access to expert counseling is unequal. "All students deserve access to good guidance information and top-notch online information," says Ben-Yoseph. "The goal to make the college process more accessible, simple, and easier to navigate."

Students can get to much of the information on BigFuture without signing up, but to create a plan or save your work, users do need to create an account. Those with College Board accounts can use their existing user names and passwords. (College Board's privacy policy states that it does not sell student names or their related information, except through the optional Student Search Service program.)

Rather than being static and listing 10 things to do each year in high school, BigFuture starts the process by asking the user some questions and tailoring the action to the individual's interests.

When searching for colleges that match a student's interest on BigFuture, the user can sort by filters such as location, majors, sports, diversity, and cost and give each a weight of importance on a sliding scale. College-profile information of nearly 4,000 institutions is collected by the College Board in its Annual Survey of Colleges. Note: The price includes tuition and fees, but not room and board.

Information throughout the site is provided in nugget-sized tips and one-minute videos with student stories such as how they decided about going to school in a city, what role extracurricular activities played in deciding a major, and putting together a financial-aid plan for college. There are also videos from experts addressing topics of college planning.

College Board envisions the audience for BigFuture to be as young as 8th graders. The content can be applicable for students of any age interested in higher education, said Ben-Yoseph. The hope is that the tool will be engaging enough that it is used across a student's entire high school career and by school guidance counselors.


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