School Ties: College Information for Students — and Parents, Too

THE COLLEGE SEARCH PROCESS is now easier for students — and their parents — with the help of a new website. “We want this to be the online ‘311’ for college information in NYC because there is a real need for reliable information that is accessible to everyone,” says Lisa Castillo Richmond, the director of Graduate NYC!, a city program devoted to increasing college readiness and completion among NYC students.

The website called NYC College Line, launched in February 2013, is an online directory of NYC programs and other Web-based resources. NYC College Line directs students on everything from admissions and application procedures to financial aid and testing information. The site was created by Graduate NYC! in conjunction with the City University of New York, the NYC Department of Education, and the Options Center of Goddard Riverside.

“There is a focus on college readiness for students but it’s not enough to simply get them to the gates of college — we have to help them graduate as well,” says Castillo Richmond. So in addition to assistance with college applications, the College Line is also a resource that supports students once in college. Current college students can use the site’s “Ask an Adviser” function for academic advice and receive a reply within 48 hours. There is also a page dedicated to FAQs that answers frequently asked questions such as “How can I raise my GPA?” or “What happens if I just stop going to class?” and “Do I really need to read the syllabus my professor gave me?”

While there are other websites designed to help students navigate the higher education system, NYC College Line is the first of it kind that offers resources and academic counseling of this scope, Castillo Richmond says. “[NYC College Line] is interactive … and it has some of the access features of Yelp and other online communities.”

collegelineThis site is not intended to replace one-on-one sessions with high school guidance counselors but rather to “bridge the gap between the information available to students at their schools and the information available to parents,” she says.

The NYC College Line is a good resource for parents who are uniformed and may feel intimidated by the college process, says Castillo Richmond. “The idea is to democratize the information … to make sure everyone has it. Some parents have never been [to college] or they’re immigrants and don’t speak the language,” says Castillo Richmond, who adds that the website is available in nine languages, including Spanish, Mandarin and Haitian Creole.