Web Site Offers College Consumers One-Stop Comparison Shop

WASHINGTON

The association representing the single largest group of independent, private higher education institutions has introduced a Web site that allows aspiring college students and their parents to research and compare private colleges and universities. In late September, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) unveiled the Web site, known as U-CAN or the University & College Accountability Network.

Located at http://www.ucan-network.org/, U-CAN represents the first national consumer information resource created and provided by the participating colleges and universities, NAICU officials say. Nearly 600 private colleges and universities have published profiles on the Web site, according to NAICU.

“We are very excited about the launch of U-CAN. There are many consumer sources out there, but U-CAN offers something distinct. The college profiles provide a unique mix of 42 quantitative elements, narrative descriptions, and 25 hyperlinks to campus Web sites,” says NAICU President David L. Warren.

“Institutions not only report cut-and-dry statistics, but also have the opportunity to express what makes them special,” Warren adds.

With focus groups convened in cities across the United States, students and parents from all backgrounds identified the information they believed most helped them make a wise college selection. Participant comments shaped the structure and content of the U-CAN site. U-CAN is totally free both to users and to the colleges and universities included in the Web site.

U-CAN includes institutional profiles that have comparable data and targeted links to the institution’s Web site for information on specific aspects of the institution. The profiles are displayed in a common template that NAICU developed. The Web site is designed to provide prospective students and their families concise, Web-based, consumer- friendly information on private colleges and universities in a common format.

NAICU acts as a unified voice of independent higher education in the United States. Numbering nearly 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU includes the wide range of private, nonprofit higher education in the country. NAICU members enroll 85 percent of all students attending private institutions. Member institutions include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, churchand faith-related institutions, historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, two-year colleges and schools of law, medicine, engineering and business.

–Ronald Roach

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