Relive the Past, at Classmates.com
Jun 7, 2007
School carries special memories for many people and some have been known to contact former school mates whenever possible in order to reminisce about days gone by and share some personal moments relating to the past. For many, getting in touch is as simple as calling or e-mailing old friends that have been in ones contact list since graduation. But for others, reliving old times isnt so simple because there is no way to find former classmates. Thanks to the internet, this problem is slowly becoming a thing of the past and one web site designed exactly for this purpose is Classmates.com, a web service for keeping in touch with former high school and college chums.
What Does This Service Offer?:
Classmates.com helps members stay connected with services like:
My Communities- Here, you can quickly look up high school information and college information for each of the schools you attended.
Message Center- Send and receive e-mail messages from former high school and college friends.
My Profile- This is where you setup/store your personal information. Besides revealing where you live, your marital status, and other info, you have the opportunity to share some opinions on your lifestyle, what you thought about high school, and other personal facts.
My Network- This allows you to establish a network of friends and associates, invite new members to the site, and search for members.
Cost to Join:
Classmates.com offers several levels of membership. Basic membership is free and involves stating a few basic facts about yourself (where you went to school, year you graduated, etc.). There are many questions that can be answered, but most of them are optional and there is no need to respond if you dont want to.
Beyond the free membership, Classmates.com offers a Gold membership for a cost of about $30 per year. This level of membership allows members the chance to access all of the personal information for any other member in the site; send e-mail messages; post to message boards; and discover what other members have visited your profile and left their name. If you would like to organize a class reunion through Classmates.com, you will need Gold membership. The other basic services are offered free of charge.
Classmates.com is a service I have been using for several years and its one of many sites that I visit every month or two, just to see if anything interesting has taken place or if anyone new from my high school or college has joined the site.
I first learned about Classmates.com the same way most people do: via an e-mail invitation to join as a free member. Since it was free, I went ahead and joined Classmates.com, filling out the profile and answering several questions about my high school and my present life. I continued to get e-mail messages from Classmates.com over the years, trying to get me to sign up for Gold membership and tempting me to upgrade by pointing out the many benefits. I resisted increasing my membership beyond the free level, but continued to logon periodically anyway, just out of curiosity.
Today, I still use Classmates.com and I still revisit the site about once every month. I generally use the site as a means to find out about former school mates and what they have made of their lives since high school. It is often very entertaining to read the profiles of people whom you knew in high school and find out what they have been doing (or not doing, in many cases) since they received their diploma. Most profiles dont reveal anything shocking and most people seem to be doing little out of the ordinary. Still, it is fun to read the profiles of some- especially those expected to be very successful- and discover exactly what they have accomplished since graduation.
One thing about Classmates.com that many find frustrating is the fact that you have to upgrade your membership if you want to partake in all of the services. This is true, to an extent, and the teaser e-mails that Classmates.com sends out do tend to get annoying after a while. The e-mail will tell you, for example, that other people have visited your profile but if you click the link to see who has visited, it will take you to another page where you are politely informed that you can take advantage of this service if you agree to relinquish your free membership and upgrade to a paid membership instead. I understand the point of this (to make money), but it still gets frustrating.
However, all does not cost money at Classmates.com. The site has undergone a few changes over the years and one major change is what free members are allowed to see. In the early days, members were only allowed a few basic services and there were strategically placed teasers throughout the site. If you wanted to read someones profile, for example, you were only allowed to see the answers to the first few questions. If you wanted to see someones picture, you were stopped and told you had to upgrade to Gold status. But many of these restrictions are gone now, and it is possible to read a members full profile- as well as see photos- all with the basic membership.
Besides the pressure to upgrade to Gold membership, Classmates.com has a few other annoyances. One is the timeliness of the information. If I lookup, say, a survey for the members of my class, there is a good chance it was a survey posted many years ago. Classmates.com continues to show this old, outdated information and the only way it will disappear is if enough new surveys pop up to take its place. If your high school or college has a large number of active members, then there is a good chance this information will be more or less up to date. But if your schools members arent very active or if your school was small, there is a good chance some of the information presented is many years old.
Teachers can also join Classmates.com and share some of their own personal information for students to read. My high school has only one teacher who has stepped forward and bared his soul, and from taking a quick look around to other high schools, it looks like teachers are not as willing as students to join Classmates.com and share their past. The same is true with colleges: teachers and staff can join the site, but most of them elect not to. By the way, the college feature is a more recent addition to Classmates.com. In the early days, Classmates.com was a service specifically for finding old high school friends, organizing reunions, etc. Today, the same services are available for colleges and universities. This was a change for the better, because it widens the information available and gives students a way to connect to former classmates on all levels.
Overall, Classmates.com is a mildly entertaining web site that allows members a means to connect with old friends, discover what people are doing, and look up information on reunions. The navigation of the site is a little awkward at times (it often takes several attempts and much effort to find simple things) and I get annoyed at the constant reminders to upgrade to Gold membership. But this is still a site worth joining for anyone who is curios about their high school and/or college friends and wants to know who lives where and what people have done since walking down the aisle in cap and gown. The basic services are free, and it gives people a way to connect with old classmates they havent seen or heard from in ages.
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