By Jason Vallozzi, Campus to Career Crossroads

In an optimized mobile website world, numerous buying decisions can be made from smart phones or tablet devices. The college admissions decision is not one of them. Admissions is a people business at its core. A successful college fit requires a personal connection beyond a computer screen.

Some colleges may create a first impression with their website while others may be lacking. To rule out a college based on its website may be doing your college list a disservice. Many colleges spend a fortune on their websites with marketing companies, drone fly over videos, and professional pictures. There are many critical factors that go into the overall fit that you cannot learn from college websites.

So here are some mindful thoughts to consider when looking at college websites:

You cannot click on atmosphere – The campus environment and how well you may fit in is not a drop down box on a website. The atmosphere cannot be described by the website experience. There is no way to determine how you will relate to students, professors, and the overall campus community unless you spend time on campus. Understanding the campus fit for students is one of the most of critical elements to eventually thriving in college.

College websites are subjective – There are no universal requirements for college websites.

Many college websites are designed by internal committees and outside marketing companies.

It is common to hear students say that they like a particular college website while finding others hard to navigate. Some college websites have clear and accessible information while others require you to dig for information.

Visiting is the fun part – As I work with clients across the country, visiting is where the college journey takes shape. Students and their families realize after a few visits that there is no other way to determine the campus fit than by visiting a college. For most people, the four-year cost of attendance to most colleges is a significant investment, therefore it is prudent to make the small time investment of visiting colleges.

The next time you dislike a college website, keep in mind that you may be judging the marketing efforts rather than the college. As students transition to campus life all the marketing efforts are meaningless. So remember, it is not about the user-friendly website but more importantly the user-friendly campus.