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College and University Information

Links to library and other resources for researching colleges and universities. Especially helpful for high students trying to select an undergraduate college.

Introduction

CAUTION: There are many books and web sites that list and rank colleges. Some are published by the colleges themselves, as a way of advertising/marketing themselves to students. Even sources that are objective use different criteria, and those particular criteria may or may not be important to you. Before you use any source, look for an introduction or "about" web page which explains how the list/ranking was compiled. Ask:

  • Where did this data come from -- from the college itself, from students enrolled at the college, or from another source?
    • Note: the college, its students, and outside sources may be biased for different reasons. 
  • How current is the information?
  • Does this book/site include every college, or only ones of a certain type?
  • Does this source focus on facts (such as majors offered, tuition, etc.), or opinions (such as the friendliness of students or the quality of food)?
  • Can I verify the information in several different sources?
  • Does this web site require me to create an account?
    • In the fine print of getting an account, does the site indicate that you will be contacted by a specific college or organization? If so, watch out -- the site is probably an advertisement, rather than an unbiased guide!
  • What aspects of a college are most important to me -- location? cost? available activities?
    • Does this book or web site provide information that really matters to me?

One way to test for accuracy and reliability is to look up the information provided for colleges near your home. How does the information compare with what you already know? Are any local colleges missing? Does the book or web site describe each college accurately?   

Advice on Researching and Comparing Colleges

Researching Colleges/Universities

Accreditation Organizations

Many employers and graduate schools prefer or require that students earn degrees from "accredited" programs. Below are the accrediting bodies for some popular college majors. 

Rankings and Ratings

Many magazines, including U.S. News and World Report and Bloomberg Business, provide yearly rankings of colleges. Typically, their web sites do not offer comprehensive lists or detailed information unless you are a paid subscriber. Below is a sampling of the variety of rankings lists that exist.