The Observer’s guide to college research

Alissa Li

Senior Winson Yeung looks at Find The Best to research colleges.

By Alissa Li, Observations Editor

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Once students graduate from their “underclassmen” status, they are suddenly burdened with a lot more stress. Not only do they have to worry about keeping their GPA afloat, they need to start researching the next step of their lives: college.

As seniors are busy worrying about submitting their applications, juniors are just starting. Where do they begin? There are a plethora of sites and resources, yet it seems so difficult to find the one school, or multiple schools, that click.

The Observer has taken the time to present to juniors, ambitious underclassman and procrastinating seniors with a couple of sites that may help in this arduous process.

US News College Rankings

This is a resource to use carefully. These lists are helpful in finding colleges, yet many students use this to put Top 50 schools on their lists. While using this site, ask yourself: do you want to go to a liberal arts school, where classes are smaller and students can receive more individual attention? Or do you want to go to a large, research-based university, where there are more opportunities at hand? US News and Report has lists for both those categories. However, students should take caution. These lists should not strictly define what schools make the list or don’t. This site should mainly be used for finding colleges you may or may not heard of, not to see which school has the higher ranking.

College Confidential

This forum-based site is filled with everything college. Any questions dealing with college can be asked on this site. Not only can you ask questions and have other more experienced people answer you, you can also read others’ questions on the site. The site also offers articles and tips on writing college essays, FAQ answers for college admissions and helpful information on financial aid. For the fun side of colleges, College Confidential additionally has student reviews on the schools and pictures or videos featuring each college.

College Prowler

College Prowler is mainly for non-academic parts of college life. It offers students’ opinions on each different aspect of the school, including but not limited to night life, dorms, food, athletics and academics. However, like US News and Report, the reviews and rankings are not supposed to strictly define your list just by judging which school has the best food or night life. They are there mainly to give you an idea of the atmosphere and feeling of a school if you do not have the opportunity to visit.

Find the Best

Though this site does have rankings like many other sites, its most useful aspect is the information and statistics it provides on each school. It provides information ranging from the diversity of the student body to how generous financial aid packages are. Checking out this site can give you an idea of the school through numbers. The engine also allows students to compare different schools. Students can compare the statistics and numbers of each school to see their strengths and differences.

Naviance

Though students do not receive this account until spring of junior year, this is one of the most valuable college research resources. Naviance is geared towards Churchill students, meaning that the statistics you see on the sight are relevant to previous CHS students who applied to certain colleges. The site offers more than just average GPA and SAT scores. It reveals acceptance rates, lowest accepted test scores, average accepted test scores and many more. However, students should not feel too affected by the statistics. Though your scores may not match with the school’s scores, it should not be cut from your list. Naviance can help you determine an equal distribution of reach, match, and safety schools on your list.

Though researching colleges can be a daunting task, these sites may alleviate the stress. Students should keep in mind that there are more colleges than just Harvard, Princeton and Yale. However, it is never a negative thing to be ambitious. As long as students research thoroughly, they are bound to find somewhere they may call both school and home.