Tech site offers free Internet domains to college students

Students on Boston campuses are eligible to claim free Internet domains, offered to showcase students’ accomplishments and help them build a personal brand with Namecheap for Education, a product of

As of Sept. 8, students can create a free “.me” website – or a “.com” or “.link” site at a discounted price – to develop their online presence, said Namecheap Head of Product Teddy Worcester.

“Internet freedom and privacy is at the core of our culture,” Worcester said in an email. “A domain name is a really important component to building a personal brand. Setting up an email and site on a personal domain goes a really long way in a job search or really any professional endeavor. And best of all, it’s free, so it won’t break the bank.”

Richard Kirkendall founded NameCheap in 2001, Worcester said. Its new service for students came as a result of attending college hackathons, or collaborative programming events, where Kirkendall and his associates first introduced the idea of offering a free URL.

“Last year, we started mentoring students at hackathons all over the U.S. Our free domains were a huge hit at every event,” he said. “We realized that no one is really making it easy for students to get online and setup a website on a personal domain. We were really excited to make this happen.”

Alex Wheeler, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of MakeBU, a hackathon club, said there is no reason for a student not to have a personal site and an online presence.

“College students already have enough expenses as it is, so being able to register a free domain name is epic,” he said in an email. “Every time you choose to spend your money on something, you make a decision to support a certain company, which is actually a big statement. I’d much rather see students supporting a company like Namecheap, which continually shows support for the student hacker community.”

Wheeler has been using Namecheap since January 2014, after meeting the Namecheap team at various hackathons, he said.

“Most of the members of MakeBU do know about Namecheap, but many probably don’t know about Namecheap Education. This is definitely something we need to get the word out about,” he said. “They are huge supporters of the student hacker community. Namecheap has a team at all of the major hackathons, and [they] have no problem setting up student developers with free domain names.”

Dr. Margrit Betke, a computer science professor in CAS, said it is important for students to have an online presence.

“I encourage my graduate and undergraduate students to have a professional webpage through Boston University,” she said in an email.

Several students said having their own Internet domains would be useful to their education, their careers and their social lives.

Jennifer Valentovic, a freshman in CAS, said this new service would be useful for students in today’s technological culture.

“As an English major, the free domain could be useful to post my own work and promote myself to publishing companies,” she said. “It’s important to have an online presence because of the amount that is done online. Even with school, you have to know how to use Blackboard and submit assignments. A lot of the clubs communicate through Facebook and e-mail. Without that presence and knowledge, you can never get ahead.”

Nirmita Doshi, a CAS junior, said this free domain gives students an important opportunity.

“It’s easier for students who want to host their own site but may not have the financial means to do so,” she said. “An online presence is important because whenever you go somewhere for a job interview, the first thing they’ll do is look you up on the Internet and see how you present yourself. Tumblr and blogs don’t come off as professional as having your own domain.”

Miguel Ochoterena, a freshman in the College of General Studies, said students should take advantage of Namecheap’s service.

“It’s cool, convenient and helpful,” he said. “The website seems a lot easier and accessible because people our age don’t want to go to a person or place to find out information on how to build their resumes or have an online presence. There’s a bigger sense of independence.”


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