I’m asked frequently what are the best websites to research colleges. I want to start by saying that there is a wealth of information available at the tip of our fingers, literally. More statistics than you could ever want or digest, comments by students who attend a college or university of their thoughts on a variety of topics related to their school, as well as information from the colleges themselves.
Below is a list of Signature College Counseling’s top picks, which includes the websites we use most frequently for our research.
When you go to the College Data website, you simply just type in the name of the college or university you want to research and a wealth of information will appear. On the OVERVIEW tab, the school’s stats are listed, such as size, admissions possibility, mid SAT and ACT information, and cost. There are 5 other tabs that house more specific information as you may want to delve even further into this school’s data. The FINANCIALS tab is especially of interest to many families as this lists average merit and financial aid awarded and the percentage of students receiving this aid. Keep in mind that these are just averages and will vary by student and their specific credentials, academic and financial as an example. This website is a great starting point for researching the colleges in which you are interested.
College Scorecard website. This is a government website that was developed in 2015 to assist students and families in understanding the landscape for the colleges they are considering. You can search for a specific school or conduct research to find schools that meet certain criteria (location, major, degree, graduation rate, to name a few.) This website also outlines the average salary range for those students that have graduated, and speaks to the demographics of a school’s student body as well as average annual net cost, amongst other statistics.
The College Navigator website offers similar types of information as other college search websites but in a more condensed fashion. You can search for one college in particular or a series of schools that meet certain criteria. Once you select a school from the list, you will see all the data available on that school on a single page – everything from an overview of the school, as in number of students, public or private institution, and student to faculty ratio to the types of degrees they offer. As you delve further down the page, you can extract tuition, financial aid, programs/majors, net price, enrollment, admissions, retention and graduation rates and varsity sports offered. This website proves a clean and concise way to research and view a college’s information.
The Niche website has not only plenty of statistical information associated with each school, but it also provides a window into the overall “grade” that has been issued from Niche, which is comprised of academics, diversity, athletics and value, to name a few. In addition to the expected stats you would expect to find as you research, you can also read reviews that students attending that college have written. What I would caution you of is not to always believe the written word. Look for trends.
Similar to Niche, the Unigo website also offers a wealth of information in addition to your basic statistics for a college. Specific questions are responded to, such as how politically active are the students, are there intellectual conversations, and do you feel safe on campus, to name just a few. The responses are in percentage terms. You can also read reviews from existing students. Along with Niche, this is a website I provide my students to assist them in doing their research for the colleges I have selected for them.
Campus Tours, You Visit, Campus Reel
Campus Tours website, You Visit website, Campus Reel website. I highly recommend that you include these three websites in your research. They allow you to take a virtual tour of almost any college that you can imagine on almost any topic you can imagine! I like my students to take a virtual tour from one of these sites aside from the one that may be provided on the college’s website since they seem to be more real rather than produced. Delve into this and enjoy learning about any school that is on your radar!
Do Your Research to Help Understand Which Colleges Fit You Best
So now that you are completely overwhelmed by the information that is accessible to you, I want you to know that although the above can provide you with a window into each of the colleges you are researching, you still need to do the work to understand which schools are a best fit for you, socially, academically, financially and emotionally. None of the above websites will be able to decipher that for you. They can provide information to assist you in making your decision, but much of the information you are looking at online are averages and perceptions of others, which may, or may not, be yours. This is probably the most important decision you will make to date in your life so be sure to give it its due diligence when working towards the college you will eventually attend. Enjoy the journey!
Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.
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