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In today’s online world, it is easier than ever to have a wealth of information at your fingertips. A quick Google search can help you learn more about almost any given topic – no matter how obscure.The problem with Google is that it can actually make it harder to find information, especially when it’s your first time exploring a particular topic, such as finding a school. With so much information available, there is a tendency to experience information overload, thus making it harder to narrow down the search in a meaningful way. Here are some pointers on how to research schools online.

Social media

Most schools have a social media presence – it’s a great way of connecting current families through an online community, as well as showcasing a school’s achievements to prospective parents.

Be sure to do a search for your shortlisted schools on social media. Some schools are more active than others so don’t expect this to be a treasure trove of information.

Here’s what to look out for:

Ratings

Social media gives users the chance to ‘rate’ schools out of five. Make sure you have a quick look through the reviews and comments. Be cautious not to take these too seriously – there is no filtering system for ratings so they can be easily misused.

Posts

Check previous posts to see what the school likes to showcase. Look for any trends or themes, such as a focus on sporting excellence. Trends in posts could indicate that the school is well known for achieving in this area. On the flip side, it could indicate that they are underperforming in other areas and have limited success to comment about. Either way, these trends can provide great insight in your research.

Photos

Browse through the online gallery photos. Look at the appearance of uniforms, the general behaviour of students photographed and what activities they are undertaking. Perhaps the school posted a photo from a science excursion, or maybe a group of boys playing together during lunch. Candid photos that you see on social media can offer a glimpse into everyday life at the school and how happy and engaged the students are.

Comments

Many comments on social media come from parents or current students and can provide great insight into the general community feel in a school. Social media is a channel often used by satisfied parents to praise the school, while unhappy parents can take the opportunity to voice their disdain. Again, filter through to see if any patterns emerge.

Once you have narrowed your search to two or three schools through social media, you can then use other online tools to cut down the list further.

Learn more about how to choose a school and download The comprehensive guide to choosing the right school for your son.

Thoughts? Opinions? Feedback? Why not leave a comment.