Updating the category hierarchy


We will be re-arraigning the category hierarchy to making finding and starting discussions easier for new users. We will also be monitoring the site to make sure the changes are minimally disruptive.


In the two decade history of the College Confidential forums, we’ve added a lot of categories as the scope of the forums has increased. We’ve also changed platforms several times. At one point there were 6 layers of hierarchy. In the last move, we collapsed that down to 2-layers.

I’ve interviewed new users and found that the category hierarchy is a barrier to using the site as a reader or contributor. The default view can be overwhelming. By changing the order of categories in our test system, we’ve found it’s easier to understand what College Confidential has to offer.

What’s changing?

Our strategy is to:

  1. Move active categories up.
  2. Build a progression that matches the college admission journey.
  3. Consolidate related categories that have low activity.
  4. Highlight categories that are core to the mission of helping students and their families achieve their education goals.

Here’s what it looks like on the test system:

Please post your feedback below

I’ve tested the new hierarchy with students new to the forums. While everyone agreed the new structure is an improvement, I got differing opinions on how it can be further improved. None of these changes are set in stone and your feedback can help us build a more usable hierarchy.

When will the changes happen?

Because these changes are potentially disruptive, I’m going to be making them in the evening over the next few days. Since there are a large number of new users coming to the site now to see the results of regular decision, we’d like to improve the site as quickly as possible.

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@CC_Jon , perhaps it would be good to have an easily accessible FAQ. There are some questions that come up over and over again, often in the College Admissions forum. Maybe ask long time users for a rundown of the most common questions so that people can quickly find an answer instead of starting a new thread, multiple times each application cycle.

This would be a good example: Teacher Letters of Rec- Does 1 have to be STEM?

As would this: Is it ok to accept multiple offers?

And this: Is a C grade enough to get my offer rescinded?

I actually am not sure if we have an FAQ section. (Edit, there is an FAQ section in the Community Forum, but it isn’t about admissions, etc…, but rather, pertains to CC issues specifically.)

Also, this is low priority, but I think a dedicated Travel subforum would be great! I’ve noticed a BIG increase in people asking for travel advice (myself included) that is unrelated to college visits, etc…

Overall, there is a lot of collective wisdom and experience from generally likeminded people here on CC. There are so many posts now about travel that they kind of hog attention from other topics in the Parent Cafe.


I actually like that the travel stuff is in the Parent Cafe , along with many other topics. A dedicated travel forum could be something that people might miss or not think to look for.


Maybe, or once people know it’s here, it might give TripAdvisor a run for the money. In fact, I posted today in the parent cafe because I think people here are better informed!:grinning:


A FAQ would be great!

I agree, a FAQ would be good.

CC is so good with pop ups :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:, have you thought of making a pop up for new users to prompt them to change their name? They can click on “do not show me this again” if applicable.

The order in the test system surprises me. I would move College Search & Selection to the top, followed by Parents Lounge, then Student Lounge, then Chance Me/Match Me then AMA.

Be consistent. Either call them Parents Lounge and Student Lounge or Parents Forum and Student Forum.

Can you create a sub category under Parents Lounge for travel? I see a lot of leisure travel posts but I would love to see a section for college trip reports. For example, “Trip report of CA colleges over Spring Break.”


I’m assuming we aren’t seeing all of the categories on the sample above @CC_Jon

I don’t see financial aid and scholarships. I think that’s an important one…and maybe new user students don’t want to see this…but what about new user parents?

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Ah I see financial aid has been changed to “Paying for College”.

That seems good…


Am I the only one who thinks the Alphabetical List ought to be the first thing users see? A browser that takes users directly to an individual college forum would be nice. But in the absence of that, the Alphabetical List should be given more prominence.

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As long as there is still a way to access “Latest Topics” I am fine. I use that almost exclusively at this point.


You can always hit G and L keys at the same time to go to Latest topics (when you are already on CC)! There are many shortcuts like that, but I’m not sure where they are all listed @CC_Jon?

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It’s an option at the bottom of the “hamburger” menu:

Screenshot 2023-03-07 at 7.59.19 AM

If you already know about keyboard shortcuts, you can also use ? to get the list of shortcuts.

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I think this is an excellent idea! When I showed students the updated hierarchy one noticed the FAQ category and got excited about it. (It was one of several times someone got excited about a category that we’ve had for a long time, but was harder to find in the previous hierarchy.) I assumed they were mostly interested in how to use the CC site, but as the conversation continued, it also became clear that the whole process of applying to college could use a FAQ.

Between posts on the forum and our article archive, I suspect the common questions have been answered many times over. So it will be great to have an FAQ specifically for the college admissions process.

I’ve started a thread to collect those questions:

General travel is a bit outside of our mission. We’ve been thinking about how to get more information about what people might do when they visit a campus. (See the campusvisits tag.) It might also be helpful to have more information for study-abroad travel. In other words, travel that relates in one way or another to education. (I’m not sure that “spring break”-type travel information makes sense for us, for instance.)

I could see value in a general travel tag that would cover both campus visits and other sorts of travel. Campus visits would be hosted in the specific school forums, but other sorts of travel could be posted in other categories, including the Parent Cafe.

It was actually @Lindagaf that proposed a dedicated general Travel Forum, not me. I am fine with general travel related stuff not related to college travel/issues remaining in the Parent Cafe (where that is already happening).

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Ok…so I have been looking at the new name “Paying for College”. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve seen very few new posts since the name change.

Also, if you are going to have a subcategory for FAFSA, why not one for CSS Profile…or maybe change the FAFSA one to “Financial Aid application Forms”

The way that category reads now…it looks like the only things addressed are the subcategories…and there is quite a but more to know about financial aid than the FAFSA and those scholarship subcategories.

Also, something about college loans needs to be in there.

Please review this.



I have noticed a drop off in questions about financial aid over the last couple years. I agree that the questions have slowed to a trickle since the name change. I prefer the category title to have something to do with “financial aid.” I hesitate to suggest subcategories, because I don’t know what people are looking for. I’m not sure what kind of data exists that would help identify the broader subcategories. My guesses are things like financial aid forms, financial aid awards, scholarships … but it’s hard for me to recommend what would be best for someone with no clue who is searching for information. I feel like I know too much to be helpful with that. But I definitely think that removing financial aid from the category name is an issue.


I saw a post in the Say it Here thread that someone was searching for the financial aid forum and couldn’t find it and finally realized that the title had been changed.

Is there a way to maybe do a blue banner for announcing the name changes?


That was me!

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