What do a student-athlete, artist, avid reader, theatre critic, human-rights advocate, literacy promoter, community service opportunity researcher, bookseller and junk food junkie have in common? They all are high school students using the Internet to present themselves, their business, or their passion.
A website or blog can be an effective venue to reach a broad audience and further your goals. Your web presence, ingenuity, tech-savvy and creativity can also impress college admission officers. Your website or blog can be a great way to communicate your knowledge about a topic, demonstrate your writing skills, showcase your achievements, or promote your business. And, from a college admissions perspective, an impressive Internet presence makes you a more interesting and desirable candidate.
Here are some examples: One student, as an extension of his volunteer work, started a blog about youth literacy which reaches thousands of readers each month and has been cited in other publications. Another teen, a student-athlete and Ivy League hopeful, created a personal website as a recruiting tool to showcase his athletic videos and achievements. A third student created a site to buy and sell used textbooks.
You don’t need to be a programmer or even know HTML to build a website or blog. WordPress, a free open-source blogging tool and content management system (CMS), is not difficult to learn and use. It’s plug-in architecture and template system is designed to enable the webmaster to easily add functionality and customization.
The first step is to acquire a domain name. If your motivation is to showcase yourself (e.g. student-athletes, artists, active volunteers, special talents, high achievers), you may want to consider your first name followed by your last night followed by (.com). If your website or blog will focus on a particular topic, pick something appropriate.
The next step is to decide on a platform such as WordPress. WordPress is the most popular and easiest to learn. You can use WordPress to build a professional-looking website or blog.
If you decide to create a blog, pick a topic that you’re passionate about. Artists (painters, photographers, musicians, actors, and performers) can create a website to showcase their portfolio. One student became so tech-savvy building his own blog that he started a website consulting and marketing business. Athletes and others with significant achievements can create personal websites to complement their high school resume and activity list.
You can learn WordPress online at wordpress.org. If you are more comfortable learning from a book, here are some popular options: Teach Yourself Visually WordPress, WordPress For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)), Getting Started with WordPress: Design Your Own Blog or Website. There are also many free tutorials available on YouTube.
You will also need a host for your blog or website. There are many free and inexpensive web hosting plans.
Your entire project can be done on a limited budget. You can purchase a domain name for about $15 (per year) and pay less than $100 annually for web hosting.
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.