With the influx of so much information on the internet, it becomes just a chore to sort through which college search websites are truly original and insightful. In constructing a college list, there are many elements that come into play for the student/family. You are pulling different decision inputs together that combine not only the college academic and social match for the student, but also take into play financial affordability for the family.
In reality, creating a college list can come from so many sources, including college visits, athletic recruitment, career interests, religious ties, etc. However, websites can provide a way to sift information so as to construct or refine a list. Here are some of our favorites:
www.collegexpress.com: CollegeXPress was inspired by Steven Antonoff, author of The College Finder, a guide used by many independent college planners to help them to create college lists for their students/families. Want to find a list of colleges with programs in computer animation? No problem. Along with the more traditional lists of every type, you will find schools to study dance, theatre, ceramics, and just about anything you can imagine. The website has useful general college and scholarship search functions, but the distinguishing feature is its robust lists of colleges by every imaginable category. Lists include “The Top 20 Wired Colleges,” and “Colleges with Great Course Offerings in Marine Biology.” My recommendation? Just explore.
www.scholarshipstats.com: This is a useful website for athletes who are interested in identifying which colleges offer scholarships in which sports and how many scholarships each of these colleges offer. Are you an aspiring triathlete? This is a budding sport, especially for collegiate women, and there an increasing number of schools offering scholarships.
www.collegedata.com: This website has many functions, including a general college search. My favorite function on this website is the “money matters” option, which is a drill-down option when you do a search on a particular college. For example, if you choose Swarthmore College, you can pick the “money matters” option, and find that 100% of the financial need of a student/family was supplied by the college, with an average award of $45,907, of which $44,256 was need-based gift (or grant money that you don’t have to pay back). Wow, what a generous college, if you have financial need! On the other hand, if you do a search on Case Western Reserve University, you will find that 31% of those students didn’t qualify for financial aid, but that Case Western gave these students an average of $23,376 in merit-based gift (grant money that you don’t have to pay back). This is an excellent STEM school (science, technology, engineering, medicine) school for students/families who don’t qualify for aid, but yet don’t want to absorb the full cost of college.
These websites are valuable tools that can help you create your college list. Nothing replaces the actual college visits, however. When you actually get a real feel for the college, you will know if it belongs on your list. Good luck!