It’s easy to hard to find information on colleges, its hard to sort out what’s good info from what’s bad. I am constantly sending emails to people about tools to support college search and learning about what tools are good and which aren’t. So I’m going to try to compile my favorite things in this post.
This will include all the things I think you should read and use to help you understand the higher education landscape and related industries. This is essentially the listicle form of this post with additional things added in each section. I’ll update it as I remember.
College Admissions Is Impossible!
The popular narrative that many hear is that is impossible to get into college. That’s a lie that focuses on just a few popular big brand colleges. Here are a few resources to help you understand and unlearn that.
- This fun subversive site that gives some perspective on colleges that reject most students.
- Andy Borst explores on Twitter an NYT article
- You know I have a Twitter Thread
- My article in Word In Black: Is College Still Worth It
- In this post I discuss good and bad on college access reporting.
What about GPA
- Georgia Tech on Instagram about GPA
- Andy Borst thread on GPA
- Jeannine Lelond on TikTok about GPA
Ratings can be useful but rankings are generally terrible. As my friend James Murphy says “College rankings are not science. They are an argument about what should be valued in colleges. They are an argument about which colleges should occupy our attention and get our support.”
- Until Twitter dies you’ll find my best work there, this is my thread on rankings.
- I wrote an article on rankings in The Chronicle of Higher Ed
- Here are a few videos: College Guidance Network, CGN 2
- Podcast: Gladwell podcast in which he deconstructs the US News rankings
- Rankings I like better:
- Third Way’s Economic Mobility
- ERN’s Social Mobility Elevators
- Washington Monthy’s College Guide and Ranking
- NYT’s Build your own ranking (it has issues but its better than many)
Testing and Test Optional
Some good resources to understand testing and test optional.
- Andy Borst, UIUC admissions, on Twitter about test optional
- Me in Word in Black exploring test optional with input from college admissions, college counselor, and a parent.
- Fairtest maintains the most update database of testing policies.
- This article by Chris Quintana (a reporter worth reading – many aren’t).
Paying for college, Financial Aid, and Merit Aid
Resources for cost of and paying for college.
- Ron Lieber is one of few NYT writers I can recommend about college costs. Here he writes about merit aid, PLUS loans, and early decision.
- Jon Boeckenstedt, High Muckety Muck at Oregon State U, has a great blog about all things college. It’s generally focused on those in the profession but the data is useful. This post shows you how deceptive college lists prices are. Private College and University Tuition Discount Rates, 2010, 2014, and 2018
- Eric Hoover about CSS Profile
College Informational Search Engines
Unlike list builder sites, which focus on “can you get in”, these help you figure out “is this school right for me.” These sites will help you find data about colleges, a lot of the data comes from IPEDs or CDS but different sites select different data to display and prioritize different information.
- College Scorecard, great tool for looking at data on earnings
- College Results Online, explores graduation rates and other outcomes with a lens on equity and race
- Common Data Set – Most colleges have their CDS postsed on their website, just google the school name and CDS.
- Money magazine rankings let’s you give various factors your own weight.
- Data USA, great tool for looking at lots of data on schools with nice text explanations of the data
College Admissions Staff/Offices On Social
- Georgia Tech’s blog is kinda amazing. It’s thoughtful, fun and informative.
- Rick Clark is a great person to follow and listen to. He understands the quest for highly rejective schools but doesn’t lean into the crazy. Twitter and Georgia Tech blog.
- Jeannine Lalonde of UVA is on all the platforms Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. If you can ignore her obsession with her dog, you’ll learn a lot about admissions in general and UVA particularly. My favorite post is this one about GPA.
- Jon Boeckenstedt from Orgeon State is a treasure trove of data. check out higher ed data stories . . . here is one on merit aid/discount rates
- Andy Borst, of UIUC, his office puts out great info. Check out page 19.
Independent College Counselors
Some independent counselors are experts in the field, some are used car salesmen, some are parents who once got their kid into a “good school.” It’s hard to tell who’s who. Everyone claims experise and lists fancy colleges supposed previous clients were admitted to. If you decide you need more personalized help than your own school’s college office can give, make sure you do your research or you might end up being charged $1.5M. These folks below are some people I like in the industry
- Jenn the Tutor (VA). A brand. A force. Mission driven.
- Shereem Herndon-Brown (GA). Co-author of The Black Family’s Guide to College
- Mark Moody (CA). Super especially knowledgeable when it comes to working with independent school families and international applicants.
- Keith Wilkerson (PA) College Thoughts
- Stacey Cunitz (PA) Blue Moon Education. Look at her site her whole vibe is “talk you off the edge”
- Bell Curves – I used to own it and so I trust their people. I wrote first few versions of their materials and trained many of their teachers.
- Keith Wilkerson (PA) College Thoughts
- Compass Prep has a great guide to testing.
- Some of the guys to trained me to teach SAT are still tutoring at InspiricaPros