How To Find Authentic Online College Reviews
When reviewing college choices, you can use online reviews to learn more about the program. However, if you do a Google search on the college in question, you’ll likely find dozens or even hundreds of reviews posted all over the Internet, many which have conflicting information. Like with any kind of review, you have to take everything you read with a grain of salt. It’s important to know how to pick out the authentic online college reviews from the sea of reviews that may not be of much help.
First, it is important to realize that there are no laws that say a company can’t pay someone to write a review. Recently FTC regulations require writers online to disclose when they’ve received things for free, so anyone who got a free class in exchange for posting a review of the college has to tell you about this free service. Unfortunately, some people out there will write a review regardless of whether they’ve experienced the program or not. Here as some tips to pick out the good from the bad:
- Look for reviews that list both good and bad points. No program is perfect, so a review that doesn’t list any negatives is probably insincere or, at the least, doesn’t give you a complete overview of the whole program. At the same time, a review that is only negative probably was written by someone who had a bad experience and is emotionally unable to see the good qualities of a program. Look for reviews that are as objective as possible.
- Avoid “testimonials” on the school’s website, such as these. Schools aren’t going to advertise negative experiences with their programs. While testimonials can help you learn more about why students like the school or have liked it in the past, they aren’t a replacement for reviews.
- Realize that reviews are subjective. Even a professionally-written review that is as thorough and objective as possible is still subjective at the end of the day. Qualities the reviewer may not like might be advantages in your opinion and vice versa. For example, some students like online programs that have a high level of structure, while other students like online programs that are more flexible. So, read the actual review, rather than just looking at the rating.
- Ask questions. One of the great things about online reviews is that there is, in many cases, a place to leave a comment or contact information for the author. If you’re unsure about the review and want more information, don’t be afraid to contact the reviewer. Not everyone will get back to you, but those who do are typically happy to share their experiences.