If you are currently trying to narrow down your college list, you know it’s not easy deciding which schools may be best for you. You could start with one of the many ‘Best of’ publications, but they all seem to have a different algorithm for determining which colleges make their list. For example, you could use the Kiplinger comparison tool to find the best value college (lowest tuition, least debt at graduation, etc.), but those results may not be the same as the colleges included in the Princeton Review’s listing. US News also provides several college ranking reports, but its data was recently called into question when several colleges admitted to providing false admission figures. Reading all those different reports only seems to make your decision more confusing. So, where should you turn for the real skinny on colleges you may be considering? Students! That’s right, the people who have actually attended or are currently enrolled at the colleges you are considering; they’ll be able to give you the 411 on everything from campus food to the best places to hang out after class. If you want to know which colleges will be a great fit for you, check out these peer-to-peer review websites.
Everything you ever wanted to know about a campus is listed on this website. Students provide reviews on housing, food, Greek life, the local atmosphere and more. There are even campus tour videos, in case you can’t personally make it out for a visit. Students also upload photos from around the campus, giving you a visual taste of what you can expect, should you decide to enroll. Another great feature is the scholarship review section, where students post about the ease (or difficulty) of dealing with the financial aid office, and give tips on what awards may be available. Want to know how ‘hot’ the guys or girls are on campus? It’s included, too!
Unigo provides free student reviews similar to those at other peer-to-peer websites, but what makes it unique is its ability to connect you (live) with a current student. Although this service is not free, you can schedule a 30-minute session for only $29, which is usually cheaper than a campus visit. You’ll be able to review the student’s background, such as year in school, major and even his/her opinions on the college, which allows you to select the student who will provide you with the best answers to your questions. Want to know your chances of being accepted? They have a free tool for that, as well.
Why do I love CampusDiscovery.com? It doesn’t bombard you with advertising and a ton of useless tools. It has a clean look and gets right to the facts. You have access to all the typical statistics, such as incoming grade point averages and test scores, as well as your odds of being accepted. Students give their opinions about their fellow classmates, professors, and even what they love (or hate) about the campus. Current and former students are encouraged to upload photos and videos, and are entered to win $2,500 for giving their advice to others.
College Confidential is best known for its forum structure, which allows users to ask (or answer) any question they may have about college, but few may know about the site’s CampusVibe™ section. Here, you can browse reviews, photos and videos from other students who have completed a campus visit. It’s a great tool to use, especially if you are planning a visit soon. You can get tips on how to schedule tours and interviews, where to park or stay when you visit, and the ‘must see’ places to include on your trip. If you are unable to visit the campus, many of these student videos give you ample information to make an informed choice on whether to include or remove a school from your prospective list.
Although RateMyProfessors.com is not a college review site per se, it does provide valuable insights on the professors you may have to deal with on campus. Once you have narrowed down your college choices, be sure to check out the reviews of professors for those campuses, especially those within your chosen field of study. I know when I was looking for a professor for one of my general courses, it definitely came in handy. Just keep in mind that some of the students who submit bad reviews probably deserved their grade, so be sure to consider all comments before ruling out a potential professor.
Choosing a college is a big decision and should not be made lightly. Be sure to look at several factors, including cost of attendance, how long it takes to graduate, available majors, and whether the campus social scene is right for you. Don’t get caught up in the ‘name game’ either; just because a school isn’t considered part of the Ivy League doesn’t mean you won’t get a first-class education and have an amazing college experience. Do your homework, talk to others who have been there, and, if possible, take a trip to visit the campus in person. In the end, only you can decide which college is right for you.
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