As Ivy League college consultants, we are often asked which resources to use in refining your college list. Indeed, when you are narrowing down which colleges you will eventually apply to, it’s crucial to ensure that you have good resources to guide you to the right schools for you. There are a few different kinds of resources that you should have in mind. Read on to learn about them and how they can help you develop your college list.
Subjective guides don’t use many statistics, but they can help you get a feel for how comfortable you will be at a given school. One good example is the Fiske Guide. The Fiske Guide provides essay-like two or three page summaries of each school. It includes information about the academic programs at each university, popular majors, the intellectual climate, the physical campus, accessibility of professors, athletics, the social environment and the geographic area in which the school is based, among other considerations. The staff of the Yale Daily News also publishes the Insider’s Guide to Colleges, which is a similar compilation of inside looks at colleges. As private college counselors, we recommend that our students research schools using subjective guides, as they can provide a sense of what each college is like – a very valuable tool.
Outside of considering the subjective aspects of a school, you’ll want to know specific statistics about each of your choices. You do need to be aware of application requirements, what the incoming students are like, and the selectivity of the school. The Complete Book of Colleges from the Princeton Review has a great deal of helpful data related to applicants and admissions that you will want to see in order to decide which schools are right for you. The Profile of American Colleges from Barron’s has some more detailed information about how competitive each school is and breaks their selectivity down into tiers.
Other Major Resources
There are a few other resources that don’t quite fit into the above two categories. A guide that is often used is the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. As college admissions counselors, we advise to take their rankings with a grain of salt. The rankings are far from definitive – at best, they can give an indication of the range of a college’s quality. Still, it can be a jumping off point to view a college’s reputation among its peer institutions as well as its selectivity (a pivotal factor used by U.S. News to rank the colleges).
Be sure to check out the websites of each school to which you’re thinking about applying. This primary resource, while presented from the subjective bias of the universities, offers a wealth of information about the academics as well as the social and extracurricular options available at these institutions. You can learn about admissions and course quality, but also about athletics, food, and campus life.
It’s also a great idea to make physical visits to colleges campuses. It can be difficult to get a realistic feel for a campus based solely on a university’s website. Walk around, visit the dining areas, see the classrooms, and talk to people. You can go on an official tour, try to find things out on your own, or both. Visit colleges close to you before visiting those in other geographic regions – it will give you a feel for the type of campus that meets your needs.
Hire An Ivy League College Admissions Counselor
Finally, be sure to use IvySelect College Consulting as a resource for finding the best colleges for you. As top college counselors, we have a great deal of experience helping students develop college lists, whether applying to Ivy League or other top-tier universities. We are an invaluable resource for excellent students aspiring to get into elite schools.