Edited: Now that this thread is pinned, I will try to keep it updated here in the first post. I started the thread as a request for a list of favorite websites for researching colleges. All the credit for getting this list going belongs to JanetC - you can see her excellent and comprehensive reply after this post. Feel free to reply to the thread with additional resources.
Please be aware that many of these sites require that you make an account. And, of course, use your discretion about providing personal data. I have not personally used all of these sites.
Common Data Set Initiative
These documents are the latest information that you can obtain from each school. All colleges/unis are required to produce them so if you do a google search with the school's name and CDS then you'll have access to the latest info. Not as useful if you still haven't narrowed your list of colleges down.
Searching for Colleges
The College Board’s Big Future
USNews - the biggest player in school rankings, for better or worse
Niche.com (also listed under student reviews)
Federal Government Websites
Where you can explore, without being marketed to!
IPEDS - Access to all the government's raw data, going back years
Student Review Websites
As with all online reviews, use these with a grain of salt.
Find a school for a Given Major
Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges
Most college search engines can give you list of schools that offer an English major, but how do you tell which schools have really good English departments? There are also lists of the best English departments in the country, but what if your test scores are not in the elite? Rugg’s Recommendations tries to fill this information gap.
This resource offers manageable-sized lists of schools that are good for a particular major, sorted by how easy or hard the schools are to get into.
It does not list all the schools out there, or all the majors at all the schools it does cover. But, for the schools that it covers (and there are plenty of them), it points out which departments are among the best of its peers.
Good Schools for Ordinary Kids
The 50/50 College List by Michelle Kretzschmar
This is a list of schools you can get into… and get out of...
In order to be included in this list, the school must accept 50% or more of applicants and graduate 50% or more of its students in four years (private schools) or five years (public schools).
You won’t find Harvard here, nor will you find schools that take your money and provide little value. It's a first cut at finding the best of the middle, for kids who are not superstars. And, there are lots of choices here.
Find Another School "Like this One"
If you have one college that you like, you can build out your list by finding schools that are similar.
Chronicle of Higher Education: Who Does Your College Think Its Peers Are?
Colleges state in their IPEDS data which other institutions they consider their peers/competitors. This web page visualizes that data. The bubbles aren’t all that helpful to me, but maybe they will be fun to you?
Enter your school in the text box, then to the right of the bubbles you will see lists showing:
- Colleges your school believes are its peers
- Colleges that believe they are your college’s peer
- Colleges that fit both of the above categories
This website will find schools in a similar category and steer you towards options with better graduation rates. Not quite as precise a match as the site above, but interesting if you need a still-wider net of schools to research.
Search for the school you want alternatives to in the search box, and open the page for the school. Then, in the second yellow bar at the top of the page, choose the tab marked “Similar Colleges"
Find Schools for Low-Income Students
Debt By Degrees
Ranks colleges according to aid given to low-income students.
Be aware that on this site the "net price for students with family income over $110K" really means "students with income over $110K who qualified for federal financial aid." Most families at this income level do not qualify for Pell grants and subsidized loans, so these are all unusual families (such as where the kid was in foster care, unusual number of siblings in college, etc). Do not use this site to estimate prices for wealthier families!
Edited by Penguin, 13 October 2017 - 08:33 AM.