If you have no idea where you want to go to college, or what you want to study, starting the process can be over-whelming. Where do you even start your college search?
You might start your college search on-line. But good old-fashioned books can still be your best resource for going through the process in an organized way and to make sense of it all. Here’s a short list of 5 books to get you started!
Yes, you can find lots of free information on the internet. But it takes a lot of time to find it. What you find can be hit or miss. And it cam be hard to understand if you read the information out of order. Books are worth their relatively low cost for organization and time!
Encyclopedia of Colleges
If your search is wide open, you need a broad index that you can keep coming back to. One where you’ll see the same information, in the same form, for every college. Be skeptical of any book who claims that they cover all the “best” colleges. Clearly, they don’t cover the same ones, so who really knows which ones are “best?”
We were lucky and both our kids knew where to start. So, since I didn’t have any personal experience, I did some Amazon research for you.
This review clued me in that in spite of the names, several of the books, such as Fiske Guides, only cover selected colleges. And their selections don’t always make sense. So I followed a trail of reviews. In spite of very few latest edition reviews (you have to follow the trail of past editions), I would start with Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges. Be sure to check the search results in the link for the latest edition.
In Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, colleges are organized by state. It describes more than 1,650 colleges, including admission requirements and procedures, tuition, fees, and financial aid sources.
You can read the most helpful review here.
Get specific when you choose a college
To get more information on specific colleges, you’ll need to turn to college web pages. But college websites can be confusing! They are all organized differently. Specific information can be hard to find.
I heard Michelle Kretzschmar speak and she has really cracked the code on how to read and navigate college websites. Creating College Lists will show you how to get the most out of college websites, find what you’re looking for, and organize the information.
Creating College Lists: Your Guide to Using College Websites to Pay Less for a Better Education – Great insight into how to get beyond the shine and fluff and get real information out of college websites.
College search – Ivy League college or elite university?
Do you want to go to an Ivy League College or an elite university? Even if you’re just thinking about going to the “top” school in your state, it’s easy to get caught up on a name and popularity. But before you wander down the ivy path, read Excellent Sheep.
Excellent Sheep – Excited about going to a big name, elite, university? Read this book first.
Consider a Liberal Arts College
Smaller colleges can be a great option. Colleges that Change Lives will get you thinking about the ways in which small liberal arts colleges can be superior to name brand colleges. It will also gives you suggestions of colleges to start your search by state.
After reading Colleges that Change Lives and the blog by the author of The College Solution, I was interested in the benefits of small, liberal arts colleges. The College Solution also focuses on how to figure out which colleges will be affordable, and more.
But ultimately I found that it wasn’t a good fit for us. I did a series of posts about exploring this option for our son.
Important Last Step!
The college search – narrowing it down
After you narrow down your college search, don’t forget the important last step. Find out if graduates can find jobs and how much they earn.