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Students in New York City and California can now use computer databases to "tour" local colleges and learn about opportunities in postsecondary education.

In New York City, the College Town Center of the nonprofit Job and Career Center opened this month. There, students can obtain information about the city's 87 colleges and universities by using i.b.m. Infowindow "touch-screen" computers that contain information about school location, size, tuition, financial aid, and unusual programs.

Promotional videos of the various institutions also are on hand to allow prospective students to inspect campuses, dormitories, and other facilities without leaving the room.

The center is a project of the Association for a Better New York, the Samuel and May Rudin Foundation, and the New York State Department of Education and Labor.

A similar but more complex project was recently put into operation by the California State University System.

The California State University Profiles in Educational Resources Network includes data on degree programs, financial aid, college costs, and sevices for students at the state's 19 public postsecondary institutions.

C-super-net, as the system is called, also contains a system of electronic mailboxes for university administrators, in which users are encouraged to leave questions or messages.

Officials said that more than 200 people had used the system since it went into operation this fall.

The university system also is encouraging high-school guidance counselors to publicize the network's telephone numbers in order to increase use.

Karen J. Billings, a former precollegiate mathematics teacher and author of a book about computers in education, has been named the K-12 marketing manager for the Claris Corporation, a subsidiary of Apple Computer Inc.

Ms. Billings, a graduate of Columbia University's Teachers College, is the author of An Evaluation Handbook for Computer Education Programs and co-author of four books on math and computer science.

Ms. Billings was selected because of her 20 years of experience in the precollegiate field, her backgound as a teacher of computer science, and her experience as director of sales in the education market for Logo Computer Systems Inc., according to a company statement.

Claris, based in Mountain View, Calif., specializes in developing educational software for Apple II and Macintosh computers.

The company began shipping products under its own name last January. It currently is on the verge of becoming an independent company.--pw

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