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What are your favorite websites for researching colleges?

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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

http://www.commondataset.org/

 

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
 
College Confidential
 
The College Board’s Big Future
 
CollegeData.com
 
CollegeResults.org
 
USNews - the biggest player in school rankings, for better or worse
 
Search.university
 
 
Niche.com (also listed under student reviews)
 
Educated Quest
 
Creation Colleges
 
College Transitions Dataverse
 
 
 
 
Federal Government Websites
Where you can explore, without being marketed to! 
 
College Scorecard
 
College Navigator
 
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.
 
Unigo
 
Niche
 
Students Review
 
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

 

College Results
 
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

https://projects.pro...a.org/colleges/

 

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
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Here is my master list.... happy hunting!
 
Some Popular College Search Engines
 
College Confidential
 
The College Board’s Big Future
 
CollegeData.com
 
CollegeResults.org
 
USNews - the biggest player in school rankings, for better or worse
 
Federal Government Websites
Where you can explore, without being marketed to! 
 
College Scorecard
 
College Navigator
 
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

 

College Results
 
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"
Edited by JanetC
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I'll put in another plug for the College Data site linked above.  I was pretty college research savvy.  I'd never heard of this site until an admissions counselor suggested it to me several years ago.  It's far and above been my favorite ever since.

 

:)

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Thanks so so much, Janet C. It occurs to me that we do not have a sticky/pinned master thread for this subforum. Maybe your list be the start of that.

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Wow, this thread should really be pinned. Or at least Janet's post.

I agree, and I will see if we can get that done. We could keep adding to it. Since I am planning to hang around on this board for at least four more years, I could maintain it :)

 

I am also in the midst of helping DS21 search for grad schools...another eye-opening project. So we could have a grad school section, too.

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I researched the schools ds applied to extensively and in the end felt like I had a pretty good read on admissions and financial aid. All admissions decisions/ FA awards were what I expected (or in case of FA in a range I expected).

 

I used the College Data and Big Future almost exclusively for that info. Big Future for my first glance at admissions data and FA but College Data when I wanted to dig a little more.

Edited by teachermom2834
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It's not the same as College Navigator, since ALL the raw data is available. Added to the list.

 

I find ipeds to be the most useful:

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Eta: I guess this is the same as the College Navigator listed above. (???)

 

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I am so glad OP asked this question as I'm starting down the high school path with my oldest. I'm doubly glad this thread was pinned. My search skills are stuck somewhere under the rubble in the Library of Alexandria and I would never be able to find it again. Such good information.

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I just heard from another poster about parchment.com

 

I'm feeling a little reluctant to set up yet another online account with personal details. Would love feedback if anyone has found it helpful.

 

About Parchment: http://www.parchment.com/company/

 

College Admission Tools: http://www.parchment.com/features/college-admission-tools

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Wow. I was aware and/or have used most sites on Janet's list except for Rugg's Recommendation. I'll be looking forward to perusing that site someday.

 

Two tools:

 

1.http://www.educatedquest.com/

 

This site gives detailed college coverage in a report format, downloadable in PDF.  Not all colleges are there and I can't find a master list so you just have to search in the search box but many of the colleges he selects to visit and write about are selective colleges. It's fun descriptive reading, a change from looking at "lists."

 

2. Common Data Sets

 

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. This is my favorite tool because ALL the numerical information that I want to know about the school is there. Not as useful if you still haven't narrowed your list of colleges down.

 

Edited by kiso1
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Find Schools for Low-Income Students

 

Debt By Degrees

https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/

 

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!

 

https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/

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A site for side by side comparisons of schools

 

Startclass.com

 

Mostly IPEDS data, including multiyear trends, and they also include stats like How cold are them winters? Does the football team win?

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Niche is more than just a student site

"The Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni."

 

https://www.niche.com/colleges/rankings/

 

It has a lot of information to help narrow your search versus most of the general sites listed above.

Don't get hung up with their numerical ordering but I think their letter grades are fairly good.

================================================

 

[i don't think their college majors rankings are very good - then again I have yet to find anything in this specific search area outside of top 25 rankings]

 

 

Edited by MarkT
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Great topic!

 

There is already a great list but let me add another site.  Noodle.com

 

Noodle.com:  You do have to have a user name and password.  I just use my FB account info that transfers.  There is a ton of great info for colleges and high schools (I use the college section).  I like that it shows the breakdown of students, what students say about the college, what the college is known for, etc.  It's an overall good source for any college you are looking at.  

 

Thanks for this topic.  

Jim

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I am using USNEWS.  My DD is using Niche.  I have also spent a (very) little time on CollegeConfidential.

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On 4/28/2018 at 11:29 AM, JanetC said:

Startclass is no more and needs to be removed from the list. 

Done. Thank you for the update. I have an 11th grader and am spending lots of time on these sites at the moment ?

 

Edited by Penguin

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This is a great list! Many thanks for posting it. Has anyone ordered the PDF from Rugg's? Is it really, really worth the $25? Is it updated often?

My son is a freshman this year and wants to major in biology with the long-term plans of becoming a herpetologist. We live in Georgia. In terms of our bigger universities, UGA is notoriously very unfriendly towards homeschoolers (of course that's where he thinks he wants to go). Georgia Tech is very homeschool friendly but he isn't interested...yet. I've been piddling around for the last 6 months trying to figure out some schools for him to look over that have great biology departments. It's not as easy as I thought it'd be.

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Rugg's is really good for

(1) Kids who are willing/able to travel out of state (if you're limiting your list to in-state, this is overkill)

(2) Kids who are not "top students" (if you're National Merit, lists of "top" schools are available for free from a bunch of sites)

(3) Kids who have a pretty good idea of what they're interested in majoring in (There are no descriptions, just lists of majors and recommendations of colleges by selectivity, all other research has to be done elsewhere)

It gets updated yearly, but I used the same version for two kids two years apart. I would say using a version 2 or three years old is fine. Since your child is a freshman, start with free lists, and consider buying Rugg's when you have a sophomore or junior.

http://www.collegetransitions.com/dataverse/top-colleges-biochemistry

http://www.collegetransitions.com/dataverse/top-colleges-biology

http://www.collegetransitions.com/dataverse/top-colleges-biomedical-engineering

http://www.collegetransitions.com/dataverse/top-colleges-environmental-science

The price of Rugg's does not include free updates. It is a go-to resource for high school guidance counselors who need to make quick recommendations for lots of kids each year. The cost is on par with a round of college admissions testing so it's pretty reasonable considering the work it takes to maintain it.

Edited by JanetC
added enviornmental science major list
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This is more specialized info, but below are past threads on specific colleges from TWTM College Board.
(original poster and date of thread creation are also listed for easier searching, in case the board goes wonky again and links get broken)

Canadian Colleges
Campus visit report: U of Toronto/St. George’s campus (downtown) — July 10 2018, dmmetler
Campus visit report: York UU-Keele Campus (Toronto) — July 10 2018, dmmetler

_________________

US Colleges

colleges that offer all-online degrees
Online universities - can we make a list -- Jan 20 2019, Æthylthryth the Texan

suggest colleges to look at that meet specific parameters
Any input on this random list of schools?
(James Madison, East Carolina, Toledo, Cincinnati, Towson, Fordham) — July 6 2017, plansrme
Thoughts on these colleges: Eckerd, Cornell College, Macalaster, Lawrence, Earlham, Wooster — Mar 12 2018, Halcyon

Looking for a small, intellectual liberal arts school, average SAT score — July 17 2017, lisabees
Any colleges that are somewhat highly selective and not a party school and strong in STEM and Humanities? — Oct 20 2017, NoPlaceLikeHome

Are there any selective schools that offer *merit* aid?
— July 17 2017, madteaparty
Small colleges in warmer climates with good merit aid — Jan 24 2018, Kassia

Which of the WUE school should we look at for Geology? — Aug 1 2017, Greta
Colleges in the South for quirky, nerdy kids — July 31 2018, kokotg
College recommendations? (affordable, conservative/Christian LAC) — Dec 13 2017, bluebonnet girl

suggest colleges to look at that are located in a specific state
Public/private universities in California: reviews/opinions please
— July 10 2017, mirabillis
Homeschool applications in Georgia — Aug 16 2017, amathis229
If you are familiar with colleges in Oregon — Nov 2 2016, Greta
College suggestions in South Texas — Nov 1 2017, Rockhopper
Colleges in VA that offer great financial aid to lower income families? — Oct 12 2017, OnMyOwn

_________________

specific colleges

Brown - Brown University — Dec 8 2017, Dotwithaperiod
Carnegie Mellon - Financial aid at Univ of Michigan or Carnegie Mellon — April 6 2017, littlebug42
Christendom - Christendom College — Aug 8 2017, AngryBircher17
Corban - Thoughts on Corban University — Aug 14 2017, charlotteb
Full Sail - Full Sail University — July 29 2018, Paradox5
Grove City - Grove City College? — Dec 12 2017, Tiramisu

Indiana/Bloomington:
Indiana University/Bloomington — Apr 10 2018, Lanny

Indiana University? Also, can anyone speak to child not really wanting to be far [away], but wanting a good program? — May 30 2017, Chris in VA
Miami (in Ohio) - Miami University in Ohio — June 13 2018, Kassia
MIT - Standford/MIT parents — Sept 30 2017, Lilaclady
Norwich - Norwich University? — Sep 19 2015, Margaret in CO

Ozarks - College of the Ozarks aka Hard Work U — Jan 8, 2015, BlsdMama
Sewanee - Sewanee? — Apr 28 2018, dmmetler
Stanford - Standford/MIT parents — Sept 30 2017, Lilaclady
Tulane - Anyone with a child at Tulane? — Aug 28 2017, jpinAL

U of Alabama - University of Alabama in Huntsville — Feb 28 2018, NotEnoughTime
U of Cincinnati - Does anyone know about UCincinnati? — Mar 22 2018, cave canem
U of S. Florida - University of South Florida??? — Dec 27 2017, teachermom2834
U of Mass - U Mass — and acceptance of homeschoolers — Jan 28 2018, GoodGrief
U of Michigan - Financial aid at Univ of Michigan or Carnegie Mellon — April 6 2017, littlebug42
U of Regina - Anybody have info about University of Regina, esp. in regards to LGBT and accommodations? — Aug 7 2017, AngieW in Texas

Ursinus - Ursinus College — Aug 9 2017, Grantmom
Wheaton - Wheaton Conservatory — Oct 12 2017, Seasider
Wooster - Any boards with kids at College of Wooster? — Aug 29 2017, prim*rose

Edited by Lori D.
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On 8/19/2018 at 3:22 PM, ShepCarlin said:

This is a great list! Many thanks for posting it. Has anyone ordered the PDF from Rugg's? Is it really, really worth the $25? Is it updated often?

My son is a freshman this year and wants to major in biology with the long-term plans of becoming a herpetologist. We live in Georgia. In terms of our bigger universities, UGA is notoriously very unfriendly towards homeschoolers (of course that's where he thinks he wants to go). Georgia Tech is very homeschool friendly but he isn't interested...yet. I've been piddling around for the last 6 months trying to figure out some schools for him to look over that have great biology departments. It's not as easy as I thought it'd be.

 

Reach out to Demmetler.  Her dd has been very active in the herpetologist field and she can probably give you some good suggestions.  

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I just found this piece of research and thought it was really interesting.  It parses the undergraduate origin of US trained science and engineering doctorates over about a ten year period.  

https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13323/

The list is a couple years old, but I think can still give some interesting info.  If you keep reading down the page, it has additional tables that sort schools based on PhDs relative to the size of the undergraduate school to give a bit of an efficiency rating.  In other words, if a small school has outsized results in sending people on to earn a PhD.

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On 10/1/2018 at 1:55 PM, Sebastian (a lady) said:

I just found this piece of research and thought it was really interesting.  It parses the undergraduate origin of US trained science and engineering doctorates over about a ten year period.  

https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13323/

The list is a couple years old, but I think can still give some interesting info.  If you keep reading down the page, it has additional tables that sort schools based on PhDs relative to the size of the undergraduate school to give a bit of an efficiency rating.  In other words, if a small school has outsized results in sending people on to earn a PhD.

 

The article is 2013, and the data is 2011, so more than just a couple years.

The current Survey of Earned Doctorates data is available here https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/ids/sed

It's not easy to navigate, but it's there!

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On 11/21/2018 at 7:34 AM, JanetC said:

 

The article is 2013, and the data is 2011, so more than just a couple years.

The current Survey of Earned Doctorates data is available here https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/ids/sed

It's not easy to navigate, but it's there!

Definitely not phone friendly, but thanks for the link. I can't wait to dig into this.

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