By Shauna Mc Hugh
The Campus Advisor is a rapidly growing new website which allows university students to rate and review their college experience. Since it was launched in January 2019, the website has been steadily growing in popularity, and now boasts over 5,000 reviews on universities from all corners of the world. In addition, there are 1,086 third level institutions currently listed on the site.
The innovative platform was created by NUI Galway alumnus Brian, who now runs the website single-handedly. The idea was provoked by Brian’s own regrets about his college experience, and the website now provides users with the kind of information he wishes he had access to when he was starting college; “What’s outlined in any college prospectus can be very different to what college life is really like. I know that was certainly the case for me. Once I realised that there was a lack of impartial information available online to help future students with their third-level choices, I set about coming up with a way to change that. From this, the idea of building a college review website was born!” Brian explains, “I definitely think a website like this would’ve heightened [my own college] experience. If I had more information at the time, I would’ve chosen to study a different course at NUIG, one more suitable to me. Something I always regretted about my first year in college was my choice of accommodation. If I’d known about the best places to live, I believe I would’ve had a better experience from the start rather than learning the hard way in first year.”
Accommodation is just one aspect of university life that is tackled in The Campus Advisor reviews. The website’s nine question model that all reviewers answer covers a wide range of issues pertaining to the college experience, to provide a comprehensive insight as to what life at that university is really like; “Whilst developing the website, I surveyed over 2,000 college and secondary school students. They were given a list of questions and asked to select those which they thought were most relevant for someone researching colleges to attend. From that I came up with the specific questions you see on the review form today”. Brian has plans to elevate the questionnaire even further; “I’m always open to adding new questions to the website in order to provide more precise and beneficial statistics. For example, one thing I’ve noticed a lot of students have discussed in the Overall Comments section of the review form is mental health services. So, this is something that I plan to add a specific question for in the future.”
At the time of print, there are eighteen reviews of NUI Galway published on The Campus Advisor website. Of the twenty–five colleges in Ireland listed on the site, NUI Galway is faring quite well. “NUIG currently has a 4.2 rating and an approval score of 94.4%”, Brian breaks down the figures for SIN; “In comparison, the highest rated Irish college on The Campus Advisor is currently University College Cork which has a rating of 4.5, so NUIG isn’t too far off the top!”
While the university is doing well in the reviews, Brian stresses that a lot can be learned from his findings to improve NUI Galway further still; “I want third-level institutions to see The Campus Advisor as a credible resource, a tool that they too can use to improve student experiences, compare themselves to other institutes and ultimately to reduce the number of people dropping out of college. It can also become a platform for colleges to showcase themselves to students across the globe.” One recurring complaint from these reviews is that living expenses for NUI Galway students are unmanageable.
While the website has only been in operation for just over a year, Brian has already witnessed huge demand for the information it provides; “Month on month I’m seeing a steady increase in the amount of people using the website. School students want a different perspective when researching colleges. I’m constantly adding institutions to the site, so it’s growing every day!”, he declares.
Filling out a review on the website may be a cathartic activity for many students, or a constructive way to vent any frustrations about NUI Galway. As Brian points out, it can also be a great way to help and inform others; “This is a unique opportunity for you to rate and review the college, your course, campus facilities, academic staff as well as much more relating to your experiences of student life in Galway. It’s also an opportunity to help future students make a more informed choice when it comes to their college selection. The more submissions we get, the more accurate the statistics for each college becomes. So I’d ask everyone reading this to consider taking just 5 minutes to submit an honest review of NUIG on www.thecampusadvisor.com!”