This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #DataAndAMovie #CollectiveBias
Helping your child pick a college is extremely stressful. Â As the parent of a high school junior I am looking for nice, cheap colleges that have big scholarships and high graduation rates, while my son is more concerned about the school’s sailing team, girl/boy ratio and food!Â I have a feeling it is going to be a long year. But one thing we have found that is really helping us with the college search is technology – especially a smart phone with unlimited data.
My oldest daughter searched for colleges six years ago – and back then I didn’t even own a smart phone. Now I consider one essential, but data can be so expensive. When I learned about the newly launched Walmart Family Mobile PLUS which featuresÂ Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data I knew it was the plan for me. It includesÂ 10GB of 4G LTE data PLUS a free movie on VUDU ($7 value) every month per line for $49.88. With this plan I don’t have to worry about running out of data in the middle of a college visit trip.
So I headed to Walmart to pick up a phone to use on this unlimited plan. I decided to buy theÂ LG G Stylo, which was on roll back for $179.00 (regularly $199.00.) I splurged a little bit on a more expensive phone because it is tax time, and what better thing to spend my refund on than a phone I will be using every day! The reason I wanted the LG G Stylo is the huge 5.7 inch screen. It also has 8G of internal storage and a built in stylus. I also got the Walmart Family Mobile Starter Kit for $25 and headed home to activate my phone.
So how are we using the phone to plan college visits? Here are the top ways unlimited data and a smart phone makes the college search easier!
College Specific Apps
Most colleges have a free dedicated app just for students searching for colleges. These are all-in-one apps that include things like interactive campus maps, tour schedules, places to eat and more. It is very convenient to have all this information available in one place. In fact some schools have made it hard to get information if you don’t have an app, as we discovered at one school with a completely empty “Information” Board.
Browsing a college’s social media accounts is a nice way to get a feel for the school. While I am searching for a parking spot my son can see what the school is tweeting about, or what events are being announced on Facebook. You can also use the phone to see what students are talking about on Yik Yak or Reddit, which can really give you a feel for the campus vibe.
A trip which consists of nothing but college visits gets pretty boring pretty fast. With the phone we can find a local park to visit or a fun side trip. This helps keep us from getting too burned out. And let’s face it, college cafeterias are just not that exciting to eat at. A nice local restaurant is a good change of pace and a way to explore the surrounding area.
Obviously it is much easier to get around and unfamiliar city and avoid traffic jams with a smart phone. Another thing we have noticed is that colleges tend to give directions to their campus through the nicest areas of town. If you follow the directions from the college website you usually approach the college through a nice upper class neighborhood with the types of houses professors live in. If you use Google Maps you end up with the shortest route, which frequently goes through an industrial park or less well to do neighborhood, and can give you a better idea of what the area around the school is really like!
Once you have done more than two college visits they all start to run together. Which school had the cool climbing wall and which one had suite style dorms? I have no idea! Luckily my son is using the phone’s QuickMemo+ App to record his impressions of the school and anything he wants to remember. Then, next fall, if he decides to apply he can use the information to create a fantastic essay about “Why I Want to Attend Your Amazing School.” We also use the phone to snap a few pictures at each school, because pictures are one of the best ways to jog the memory.
Another big plus is that using a smart phone for the college search is eco-friendly. If my son doesn’t like the school or we realize it will not be affordable we just delete the app from the phone and erase the memo Â – there are not piles of brochures and maps to recycle. And since most correspondence with the school occurs via email everything is at our fingertips on the phone.
I am somewhat ambivalent about my son searching for colleges. It is a great step for him, but a bittersweet one for me. So I am trying to focus on the fun college trips we are having now, and not think about how far away he might end up! We are taking advantage of the free VUDU movie included in the plan to have a family movie nights. It is great to be able to watch a new VUDU movie every month on our Roku, so we can enjoy being together now and make sure he has a great senior year and college search.
Do you have any college search tips to share?
Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/2n6q6 or your local Walmart for current pricing.