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Apr 11, 2017 04:24 AM EDT

It can be challenging for students to decide what university and college is perfect for them. The process involves research and talking with people who actually went there to get a feel of how it would be like to stay in campus for four years or so.

Students can utilize their alumni networks to speak with people who went or are studying at their prospective university or college. These connections are a valuable tool for applicants who want to learn more about schools.

Amy Homkes-Hayes, career development manager for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, said that applicants can get access to information from their alumni networks. They can also get the energy or enthusiasm for the institution from these connections.

While schools usually get alumni involved in recruiting students, prospective undergrads can also take the initiative to reach out. U.S. News shared four ways that college applicants can use their alumni networks to help them with their decision.

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Get their opinion on school's quality and sense of community.

To get a feel of the daily life on campus, current students and recent graduates are an applicant's best bet. Look for graduates from your high school who went to a particular college or university that you are planning to go to and ask them about their experiences.

Research on the scope of an institution's alumni network

Applicants should also determine the scope of their prospective university or college's alumni network. Determine the quality and quantity of connections they would be able to gain upon graduation. Social media platforms, like LinkedIn, have made it easier to follow a school's network.

Find out how the college helped its alums' careers

Ask alumni about how their majors or professors helped them achieve their career goals. Applicants should also consider asking alumni what activities they were able to do outside of class and how these extracurriculars affected their careers today.

Ask for personal reasons on attending the school

It's also good to ask what other schools that these alumni considered when they had to make the same decision. Moreover, ask them what made them finally decide to go with the choice that they made.

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