Innovation That Matters

Transparency goes to college

Publishing & Media

Transparency tyranny has already been striking terror into the hearts of companies far and wide, as both customers and employees have begun sharing their experiences and impressions of them for all the world to see. No real surprise, then, that universities are next in line. has already made faculty popularity public, and now a few new sites offer a way for students to share an insider’s perspective on campus life in general. Unigo, which launched last month, is a site that offers tens of thousands of original reviews, videos, photos, documents and more about 225 of America’s top colleges. Representing the efforts of 18 full-time editors, 300 on-campus interns and more than 15,000 students, the results are all searchable within an interactive community built around student-generated content. Using the free site, high school students can communicate with one another and with current college students to find the college that’s right for them. An “intelligent calendar” guides them through the search/application process, while multidimensional filtering capabilities let them search through reviews by each reviewer’s gender, ethnicity, major, political leaning, hometown and more. The New York-based site plans to expand soon to cover nearly every college in America. San Francisco-based Yollege, meanwhile, also aims to empower college students to share their thoughts and opinions on every aspect of campus life, from dorms to campus hotspots to local culture. High-school students can use the site for help in finding the right school for them, while college students can use it not only to share reviews about their school but also to meet fellow students. As of late September, there were more than 4,000 reviews on the site, Real Simple reported. Launched in April, ad-supported Yollege was recently named one of the top five Best of the Web 2008 newcomers by BusinessWeek. Finally, Pittsburgh-based College Prowler offers both print books and an online guide to more than 250 American schools. Each guide is written by a current student at the college, with the addition of quotes and comments from others in the student population. College Prowler launched online last year; a subscription for full access costs USD 39.95 per year. Traditionally, college review guides have tried to provide information in an objective way, but of course what many consumers really want is subjective information from their twinsumers–those with tastes similar to their own. Add that subjectivity to immediacy, interactivity and free (or low-cost) access, and you just may have a winner. (Related: Transparency tyranny hits the workplace.) Websites: Spotted by: David Boyar




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