Conducting effective and accurate online research is the cornerstone to any college appraisal method. You need to make sure you do your part and get as much information as possible on institution(s) you research on. This will help you in making the right decision when you eventually analyze your list of colleges, and you have to make decisions about which colleges to keep on your list and which ones to cut!
After all, you are making a decision that can make or break the next four years of your life: A decision that will impact the rest of your life.
Therefore, please make sure your time, effort, and research reflect that.
Having said that, let's get to the fun part: There are many "tools" out there at the moment to help you with research, but my personal favorite is startclass.
It covers almost everything a person would want to know about a college. From the SAT/ACT range of a college to the type of locale and weather, and everything in between!
Once you search or bring up a university or college, a quick glance at the key facts tell you most of what you would like to know:
Admissions: The Acceptance Rate and Admissions Yield (How many people who are accepted actually attend the college/university)
Cost: I think you’re aware of what this might entail!
Aid: This is really helpful as it shows the percentage of freshmen who got aid and what the average aid and loan amount was. However, remember that international students usually make up a small portion of the freshmen class.
Graduation Rate: The Graduation Rate shows how good the college is at retaining students. A high graduation rate is correlated with students and their satisfaction with the college environment. In other words, if people don’t like a certain environment, they tend to move on. A low graduation rate might be a warning sign!
Salary: If you plan on working in the United States after graduation, then this statistic might be useful. It helps you figure out how much the average person earns after graduating. Keep in mind that this does not account for the type of the degree the person has received from the college.
Academics: How many majors are offered in the college/university. Even if you are undecided going into your first year, it is a good idea to assess the college and whether it offers degree(s) in your area(s) of interest.
Student Body: This shows you how diverse the student body is and the various ethnicities of students at the college/university. Studies have suggested that the more diverse a student body is, the more easier it is for international students to assimilate to the college's respective environment.
An example of the Student Body i.e. the "Student Demographic Profile" for a college.
Institution: This is where the deadlines of schools are shown. Also, a really great way to discover if the school offers Early Action/Early Decision!
Locale: What type of city/town the college is located in. Also shows you nearby Colleges, Rent statistics, and College Crime statistics. The environment might be insignificant to some students, but I would suggest looking into this, as an environment of a school can make/break your college experience
Startclassalso gives you information about how the university/college ranks with other websites like U.S. News or Forbes.
All in all, Startclass is one of the best tools out there for any student – domestic or international – who wants an accurate and easy way to research higher learning institutions.