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Finding A College | Comparing Colleges | May 2012

College Comparison: How to Effectively Compare Colleges

By Taylor Cotter | StudentAdvisor.com Staff

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College comparison is not an apples-to-apples process. If, like many incoming high school seniors, you’re planning to spend this summer touring colleges and beginning to fill out applications, you’re probably overwhelmed about how different colleges can be. Sure, every college has a decent library and a gym and an expensive bookstore – but for the most part, each college will be totally different than the one you saw before it.

When I was comparing colleges on my visits, I had to keep a list with me at all times. College comparisons can involve tuition, facilities, demographics and more. Tuitions at the schools I visited varied from cents to tens of thousands of dollars, and though most of the schools I looked at were urban, their enrollments varied significantly. Pictured is a college comparison of five schools to which I applied - something I definitely wish I had when I was touring schools in 2007!

Before you set out on a college road trip, compare your schools on the StudentAdvisor Compare Colleges tool. Just click "Download" to export your list and print out what your colleges look like side-by-side. Add your own notes while you’re going through your tour - when all quads start to look the same and tour guides start to sound more like salespeople, take a look at the facts that matter most on the Compare Colleges. 

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Even though College Compare is a great and necessary tool while visiting colleges this summer, there are some important things about making a college comparison that the StudentAdvisor College Compare doesn’t address. Add a few extra rows to your College Compare printout and take some notes on these things that you experience on campus:

  • Food options – are there dining halls? Do you pay by-meal or by-item? Do any local restaurants take the meal plan?
  • Residential life – is housing guaranteed all four years? If not, how much are rent prices in the area? Do apartments come furnished?
  • Student groups – how many student groups are there? Do they offer the groups that you’re most interested in joining?
  • Major – what specifically would you be majoring in? What are the required courses for the major?
  • Internships – how often do students intern while in college? Does the school help students obtain internships?
  • Job placement rate – how many students have jobs upon graduation? How many students go to graduate school?

What are you waiting for? Compare schools now!

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