CINCINNATI - When it comes to choosing a college, the choices can be overwhelming.
Now, help is as close as the click of an icon.
A new CD-ROM called CollegeView, from a Cincinnatibased company of the same name, provides basic text information and virtual tours of 3,550 accredited two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States.
"There is no where else to get all the information in one place," said 18-year-old Jamie Bard, who used the software to help her decide on Ohio State University.
Many universities already use the Internet as a recruiting tool. Schools such as the University of Oregon and Pennsylvania State offer their own Web sites and allow students to visit their schools electronically.
But the $35 CD-ROM allows students to personalize their searches by entering criteria important to them. Brad Collett, 18, said the specifics he selected led him to the University of Tennessee, which he will attend in the fall.
CollegeView uses audio and video presentations to provide information about an institution's academic reputation, student body, campus life, athletics and cost.
Mr. Collett said he cut out traditional college search methods in favor of the CD-ROM. "I have done no college searching outside of CollegeView," he said.
Michael Conner, vice president of marketing and creative services for CollegeView, said that his product helps narrow the search, but doesn't do all the legwork.
"You're still going to need to visit the college, but you'll have basic information when you go," he said.
Computers, through the Internet and software like CollegeView, reach more students than college catalogs and allow more valued information to reach them the way they prefer, said Anne Ferguson, director of guidance at Hathaway Brown School in Ohio.
"This is the future staring us in the face," Ms. Ferguson said.