The Collegian
Friday, December 09, 2022

Unigo helps students evaluate college choices

Collegian Reporter

The University of Richmond is one of many colleges and universities being reviewed by its students on the Web site Unigo.com.

Unigo, which launched in September, is targeted toward high school students in the process of selecting colleges. The site features articles and videos that college students submit about their schools, which are intended to provide an insider's perspective on life at different universities.

The content submitted by Richmond students is overseen by Mike Dang, one of the editors at Unigo. Dang said that what set Unigo apart from other college guides was that the content of the site was completely user-generated.

"Generally when you go to something like Princeton Review, you get a lot of distilled information about a school," Dang said, "But you don't really get a student perspective."

One of the advantages to having this student-generated content, Dang said, was that topics that would not be mentioned in traditional campus guide books, such as campus controversies, would be covered by students. A topic that would be included on the Richmond portion of the site would be the heated discussion over chalking on the forum last spring, Dang said.

Richmond students featured on the site have also posted articles on topics such as diversity, sports, the social scene, financial aid and school stereotypes. While many of the pieces show mixed emotions about the school, Dang said that he saw students being honest about their college experiences as a benefit to the site.

"It shows through in the students' content," Dang said, "Both positive and negative."

Junior Mary Catherine Searson, whose article appeared on Unigo after she filled out an e-mail survey in the spring, said she had been surprised by the number of students who had submitted to the site.

Although Searson used college guide books when looking at schools, she said that she had looked for resources similar to this site, and she felt that the added student perspective would be very useful for high school students considering college choices.

"I think high school students would be more likely to trust a student's opinion," Searson said.

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But, one of the risks of letting students post on a site like this, Searson said, was that students may exaggerate posts or say negative things about their school that they later regret.

Dang said that if students posted things that they would later like to retract, it would be possible for them to make their survey anonymous, so that their names or usernames would not be displayed with their comments.

Also, if students see content on the Web site that is factually incorrect or that they feel is completely inaccurate, they may e-mail the site with corrections, Dang said.

Although Unigo encourages students to submit content on their own, the site recruits interns for each school to provide content on different subjects. At Richmond, Unigo has hired two such interns.

Unigo's editoral intern at Richmond, sophomore Julia Czech, said she thought the site was a useful college search Web site for both students and parents. Czech said this semester she had written a piece on the best and worst decisions of freshman year and the political atmosphere on campus.

Czech first submitted to Unigo as a form of procrastination, she said. Czech, like Searson, got an e-mail from Unigo last spring, which encouraged her to fill out a survey about her school. When she next received an e-mail offering her an internship with the site, Czech said she had accepted because she saw it as a great opportunity to represent the school.

Unigo also hired a video intern at Richmond, sophomore Megan Stephenson. So far this fall, Stephenson has worked on a video piece about which candidates students support in the 2008 presidential election. Stephenson's series of ten videos on the topic would appear on Unigo to give high school students a sense of the political preferences on campus, she said.

Video content is one of the most important features on the site, especially for those students who will not be able to visit schools before they apply to them, Dang said.

"The visual element is the most useful for a high school student," Dang said.

Stephenson agreed, mentioning that the videos allow high school students to get a sense of what students look and dress like at certain schools, as well as what the campuses look like.

Contact reporter Kate Foss at kate.foss@richmond.edu

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