New website offers an alternative to campus tours

Driving three hours for a college visit may be a thing of the past for high school students as a new online resource allows college students to post their own reviews about the school they attend. Unigo.com, a social networking site that uses videos, photos and text uploaded directly by students, shows their opinions are about the school, Sharon Fuchs , Unigo managing editor, said. Unigo went live online last month and currently profiles about 250 colleges and universities with high enrollment numbers. Fuchs said theyâÄôre looking to expand the number of schools. âÄúUnigoâÄôs overall goal is to be a platform for college bound and college age students to interact around the content thatâÄôs been created by current students,âÄù Fuchs said. The idea stemmed from the âÄúStudentsâÄô Guide to Colleges,âÄù a book based on student-written reviews. The site, which Fuchs said has been in the works for two years, was launched by entrepreneur Jordan Goldman , who graduated from Wesleyan University only four years ago. Brian Bernier , an advertising sophomore at the University of Minnesota, said he heard about the site through an e-mail, and has since posted his opinions on the site. âÄúI wish I had that when I was choosing colleges,âÄù Bernier said. âÄúWhen you go on tours, every college says the same thing. ItâÄôs another way to hear a different kind of studentsâÄô perspective.âÄù Allison Witham , an English and theatre junior, has also posted on Unigo, but said students looking at colleges should consider what they think is most important over what other students post. âÄúItâÄôs really important to keep in mind that kids who are at a certain school usually have not been to other schools,âÄù Witham said. âÄúItâÄôs a very narrow perspective.âÄù University tour guide Amber Johnson said she thought the site was a good idea, but that it couldnâÄôt replace being on campus. âÄúItâÄôs really beneficial for people to come and get a tour because then they can see the university , they can actually talk to someone about their experiences,âÄù Johnson said. On Unigo, Witham listed class scheduling as the worst thing about the University, while Bernier said it was the sports scene and a lack of school pride. Johnson and former tour guide Ben Bradley said they were supposed to share their experiences but were told to keep negative opinions at a minimum when giving campus tours. âÄúYou can share mild negative things and overall, try to give everything a positive spin,âÄù Bradley said. But Witham was skeptical about only using tours to make your college decision. âÄúA tour guide is hired to sell you a product and that product is the university,âÄù she said. âÄúTheyâÄôre probably not going to tell you their diehard honest opinions if they have a problem with the university.âÄù Katie Benson , a junior at St. Cloud Technical high school, said sheâÄôd consider UnigoâÄôs posts more than a tour guideâÄôs talking points. âÄúBut I think students who are going there have a real perspective from experience so IâÄôd definitely consider that more than staff,âÄù she said. Bradley said visiting the campus is valuable. âÄúYouâÄôre looking at the place where youâÄôre going to spend the next four years of your life,âÄù he said. âÄúI personally would like to actually take a look at the place before I decide IâÄôm going to move there.âÄù