Admission News

How to Measure One College against Another

Written by CB Experts

Fall!—beautiful colors and squash–and time for the college application process to begin in earnest.

Are you looking, perhaps frantically, for the right colleges to put on your list to apply to? Well, here are some tips for strategizing that choice.

The tried and true way to sort colleges is with the U.S.News & World Report college rankings. But, are these rankings a true measure? They offer a lot of data, but many times it is the wrong input. For example, these rankings are usually more a measure o f institutional wealth than quality. Private schools spend about $2,000 per recruit while public universities spend about $400 per recruit. Which will get the most bang for the buck? And, which will have the best value?

The question should not be so much about which is the best school as which is the best school for me!

Schools are often chosen through the advice of admissions professionals and college counselors. Perhaps the better input should come from what students want and are influenced by.

From a survey at done by Steve Cohen of there are several influences and wants expressed by students

Parents influence students the most—not friends, and parents far outweigh the influence of coaches, teachers, or guidance counselors. Parents are interested in two things—cost and prestige.

Students choose colleges based on location. About 58% will attend a school within one to two hours from their home, while only 24 % will go further away than 250 miles from home to school.

Students are highly influenced by their gut which is best felt on an actual tour of a campus. Most students visit between one and four campuses. The next best thing is the college website.

Only 36% of students apply to small colleges, even though about 39% of students say they want small classes. (It seems to us a small campus just might not have an overload of applicants and be a good place to apply this fall.)

We here at College Basics would love to hear from you applicants out there.

• What strikes you about a college?
• What captures your attention?
• What are factors that you think will influence your final decision about attending a college?

Please write in in our comment section!

About the author

CB Experts

Content created by retired College Admissions consultants.