If you're planing to study in a foreign country, these sites will help you make the transition.

Yup, it's that time of year again.

Oh, come on - surely you've noticed. It's a few months before the autumn term begins in colleges across the world, and all the pretty girls in the neighbourhood are muttering darkly to themselves about "university admissions" and "I-20s". Soon, they'll be fleeing the country for cooler climes, hoping to find fame, riches and everlasting love on the other side of the globe. Little do they realize that it's almost impossible to run away from themselves...

Why do we care?

Well, to be quite truthful, we don't.

We may not be rich, but we're certainly famous - and we have no intention of giving up our hard-won notoriety without a fight. However, it did provide us with a gentle introduction to this edition of The HITG Report [that's H-I-T-G, spelt aitch-ay-tee-gee], in which we explore some of the sites that those gorgeous - though fickle - young women might like to bookmark before they step into the airplane that will whisk them far, far away. Take a look - and remember, as Mark Twain famously remarked, that you should never let school get in the way of your education!

Petersons http://www.petersons.com

Developed by the publishers of the very popular "Peterson's Guide To Colleges", Petersons on the Web contains a listing of all colleges in the United States. The site reflects the same professionalism that comes across in their book - a clear demarcation for the various categories of colleges on the first page itself, further classified by location, academic area and professional degree. A search facility allows you to quickly find colleges or courses by keyword, and the site also allows you to download useful software for tests, subscribe to a newsletter, and even automate your admissions process.

Kaplan.com http://www.kaplan.com

Positioning themselves as career guidance counselors, the Kaplan Web site is excellent for people who have to prepare for the plethora of examinations needed prior to entry into the hallowed portals of MIT and Harvard. The site offers online preparation for a wide range of exams, the most common ones being SAT, GRE and GRE.

The site also offers career-centric links for different fields of education - law, medicine, accounting and engineering links are included. Users can also participate in message boards, where online counselors and other nervous grads and undergrads share their experiences. The site has an online shop for books and multimedia, and also comes with a "Kaplan Gets You In And Pays Your Way!" online sweepstakes, which offers you the chance to win a cool $25,000 to finance your education. Boy...that should keep you well-stocked with alcohol and drugs throughout your stay in college!

GetEducated.com http://www.geteducated.com

This bare-bones site, maintained by "one of America's leading distance learning consulting firms", is a virtual treasure trove of information for people interested in learning at home, away from the buzz of the school. The GetEducated site offers in-depth consultancy services for executives interested in distance learning, and also allows you to examine various colleges and long-distance courses.

While you're at it, subscribe to the Virtual University Gazette, a monthly electronic newsletter for distance learning professionals working at the adult and post-secondary education and training levels. VUG is issued free via e-mail the first of each month, and each issue includes news of new distance learning programs in both the academic and corporate sectors, as well as job opportunities and links to hot spots in the virtual university movement. Archives of past information and news are also available.

The GRE Web site http://www.gre.org

The official site for the GRE is maintained by Educational Testing Service [ETS], the agency vested with the authority to conduct the examination and collect a king's ransom in fees from hopeful undergraduates. An extensive site with links to information on different aspects of the GRE, each section includes detailed FAQs about the examination, along with information about dates, registration procedure, fees and testing centres. Links to related sites help you to achieve your goal of joining an American university, and the site also contains sample test papers.

http://www.collegeispossible.org/

Now here's a neat site which acts as a guide for people interested in joining colleges in the United States. Neatly categorized into sections, the site offers information on the various application procedures required, together with estimated expenses. Claiming to be built by "the colleges of America", it has extensive links to official university Web sites, their admissions and financial calendars, and information for international students. Also included: a vast database of colleges ranging from small private colleges to large state universities, with a list of pros and cons for each.

http://www.collegegate.com/

Ask any college applicant, and he will tell you that writing the essay is akin to a nightmare come true. And so, in order to relieve you of those sleepless nights, Collegegate's "Harvard-educated" editors will screen your essay, offer critiques and proofing, and also provide superior editing that goes a long way in helping you fulfill your dream of joining the best universities in the world.

The site also has free sample essays designed to give you some idea of the quality of their professional skills, together with other resources like essay writing tips, chat rooms, admissions stores, and a powerful college search engine.

http://www.allcampus.com

A simple directory which provides an alphabetical listing of all colleges. Ask for a listing based on name or geographical location, and the site will oblige with a neat list customized to your requirements. Each entry includes extensive information on the college, together with a link to the official Web sites.

Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com

If you're planning to spend time in a foreign country, you'd better get up to speed on the local culture and climate. And Lonely Planet, publisher of the popular guidebooks by the same name, offers detailed information on every single country in the world on its Web site - browse through information on transport, entertainment, lodging, food and drink, and places of interest, together with some very useful traveller's tips and estimates of living expenses. Photographs are included.

Currency converter http://www.xe.net/ucc/

Need to know just how much that fancy college degree is actually going to cost? Take a look at this currency converter, which lets you convert from one currency to another at standard exchange rates. A word of warning: make sure you're sitting down first!

Time zone converter http://www.ouiweb.com/src/pub/scripts/time/gmt.html

Feeling homesick? Feel like calling Mummy? Well, she's not going to be too pleased if you wake her up in the middle of the night only to whine about the local food. So do yourself - and Mummy - a favour and visit this site first.

That's about all we have time for this week. Those of you planning an extended stay abroad - what can we say but good riddance. The rest of you - we'll see you again in two weeks. Till next time...stay healthy!

This article was first published on 05 May 2000.