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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

Tips for researching colleges from home - Part 2

Earlier this week I provided some insight into how schools look at your academic aptitude and I provided a resource for researching schools based on your current academic profile. Now we will expand on that and add Social Fit. Why is "fit" so important? A college can have all of the academic resources you need, but if you are not in a place where you feel comfortable socially and emotionally, you are less likely to have a successful college experience. How can you get a sense of which schools to include on your list? Here are some great resources:

1) Fiske Guide to Colleges - this guide provides detailed descriptions over more than 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. It provides ratings on academics, social life and quality of life. A rating of three telephones indicates a typical college social life - four telephones would indicate that the students are a bit more social than average and five telephones clearly suggests that it is a party school. Students were selected to complete a questionnaire that assessed a variety of aspects of campus life - housing, dining, entertainment, student culture, accessibility of professors - and feedback from the questionnaire was used to create comprehensive descriptions of what life is like on the campus. While this guide is not readily available as an online resource, it is integrated online with some college planning software systems like the one I use with my clients, Guided Path. You can, however, find it in ebook format.

2) Campus Reel - this site was featured in my post about virtual tools, but I mention it here because it provides videos that were generated by students and will give you first-hand insight into life on a particular campus from the student perspective. The site allows you to search by geography, by size, and by competitiveness to help narrow down the pool.

3) Unigo lets you create a profile and generate a list of schools that match your needs. It asks questions about your academic background, your learning style and your adaptability. As you complete questions, it narrows down the schools that would be a good match.

4) CollegeXpress is a terrific resource for coming up with a list of schools that meet specific criteria like "Colleges where geek is chic" or "Colleges for the shy student" or "Colleges that build moral character." You can research all sorts of categories and learn interesting tidbits about schools that may surprise you.

5) College Scoops is a new company that is designing resources to help students plan for campus visits. You can purchase e-books on particular colleges that offer comprehensive feedback from students and parents to help you learn more about a school from people who have already been down this road before.

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