Emma Lord
April 02, 2015 11:47 am

Here’s the frustrating thing about picking a college: No matter how many pamphlets you read, or people you talk to, or campuses you visit in-person, you can’t truly know what it’s going to be like until you’re already there. Part of this is because everyone’s experience in school is unique to them, but another huge factor is that even on a school tour you can never really experience the “inside” of being a student there. But some clever teens are solving this issue by using an unexpected source — they’ve managed to use Instagram to look at pictures of college students and get a much more rounded sense for what the scene is actually like without having to set foot on the campus.

It might be simple enough to look up the official Instagram for a school that you want to attend, but that’s not what this high school seniors are doing. Instead they are using the geolocation of the particular school they want to attend, which then pops up not just the pre-approved images from the school, but un-vetted images getting posted from all over the campus from their actual students. Using the geolocation stamp, students can get a much more diverse idea of the social scene, where people tend to hang out on campus, and whether or not they can see themselves engaging with the students that are already there.

Some colleges are fully aware of the trend, and Bowdoin has gone so far as to hire a student social media team to keep tabs on their school’s hashtag. Surprisingly, though, most colleges are supportive of students going beyond the pre-approved photos, saying that they want to give students a sense of what to expect.

So how can you take advantage of this Insta-loophole? I will confess that I am technology incompetent myself, so if you don’t want to mess around looking for a geolocation in an app, trying using Worldcam. The site automatically chronicles Instagram’s geolocation tags, and if you type in an address, it will show you pictures that were taken and posted near that area. This is Hogwarts-level wizardry, guys, and it can take sooooo much of the stress and mystery out of your decision-making this year.

(Image via Shutterstock).

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