By Eric Garneau
When it comes to a major life decision like where to go to college, almost everyone could use a little help. Our nominees below take that task very seriously. Two are old pros at the game, and one's a young upstart looking to change things up by infusing some social media into the ranking process, but all offer invaluable information to prospective college students and their parents. Which is your favorite? Read up on our nominees below, then come back here to vote for the winner!
Probably the biggest name in college rankings, U.S. News began to compile and rate lists of schools starting in 1983 (though the publication itself existed for decades prior). The U.S. News rankings are nothing if not exhaustive; each school gets its own page that details almost everything about campus you might need to know, from student demographics to costs to selectivity. Rankings are divided based on school types, such as national universities, liberal arts colleges and regional colleges. U.S. News also ranks graduate schools, high schools and even universities around the world.
Princeton Review has been ranking colleges just a bit longer than U.S. News and has just as much expertise in the field. It offers roughly the same services as its above competitor, but with a bit of a twist - Princeton Review looks a little more closely at the on-campus student experience than does U.S. News. While 'Student Life' takes up just a brief section of a U.S. News profile, Princeton Review breaks that down into a number of ranked categories, including 'town life,' 'extracurriculars,' 'social scene' and even 'politics,' wherein it spotlights the most politically active schools both in conservative and liberal philosophies. However, the Review doesn't go as in-depth into other categories, like school history or admissions data. Its site also offers users the ability to generate a personalized list of top ten schools based on user preferences and information such as region, majors offered and high school GPA.
The newcomer in the realm of college rankings, Unigo was founded but three years ago. Its mission is basically the same as the above two contenders, but with an important difference - instead of employing unseen list-makers, its content is generated by students, college counselors and other site users. Each school has its own page complete with a bevy of information, including tuition prices, campus pictures and a brief summary of what students can expect there. Schools are also ranked by users on nine different categories relating to campus life, such as accessibility of professors, safety and even 'drug culture.' Site users have a chance to ask and answer questions from other students. All the while the site emphasizes three core goals: finding a college, making it in and being able to pay for it.
All three nominees give students powerful information, but only one can win. Support your favorite, and don't forget to get the word out and vote on Facebook by October 21st!
Not on Facebook? We've also got a SurveyMonkey to help you vote for your favorite education tools and resources.