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Content: NextStepU nicely lays out in a step-by-step format basic information that can help high-school students research careers, choose a major and apply to a college. The content is more quick survey course than in-depth analysis, but since teens often need help getting organized and seeing the whole picture before jumping in, the site can provide a first nudge toward the world of college admissions. The language is simple and youth-friendly.

Design: The site’s design is clean and basic. The left navigation contains all 22 steps, and as soon as the user clicks on a step, a horizontal bar pops up that also displays the steps as numbers.

The top bar features several contest/prize opportunities, although some of these clearly collect applicants’ contact information for the purpose of putting them on promotional lists.

Another drawback is the “College Match” feature—of limited usefulness since searching by desired major and state returns a list of schools that are not compared in any meaningful way. Only basic stats about each school (mostly concerning cost) are offered.

Review:  For young people who may not have adults in their lives who can guide them through the college planning and preparation process, NextStepU could serve as a reasonable self-study. A community area of the site offers another chance for teens who are “going solo” to connect with others about the process. Each step provides a printable “cheat sheet” so that often-forgetful teens can keep all the information they need at their fingertips. These printouts would also make a great addition to the resource binders of guidance counselors.

Bottom Line:  The site would be useful for high-school students, parents, educators, guidance counselors and adults mentoring teens. NextStepU may not get young people all the way there, but it can certainly start them on their journey to college.

Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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