The foundation of this book was a website the editors began when they were college students themselves. They were curious as to what college students would say about their various schools if given a chance to freely respond. An online survey quickly received over 30,000 responses as college students rushed to give their honest answers about life at their schools. From these results, months of campus visits and further research came this Students’ Guide to Colleges- the Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools.
The top 100 schools, although a subjective list, were selected
through intensive research and study. They include large, well-known schools such as Harvard and Penn State, smaller schools
such as Bowdoin and Sarah Lawrence, and lesser-known schools like Macalester or Pitzer. Schools are all sizes,
in all parts of the country, public and private. Indexes in the beginning of the book supply lists of the schools broken down into categories for size, location, diversity, social life and others. The prologue also includes useful advice for seniors looking into school from students who have gone through the process.
Each school is initially rated on its selectivity, size, nightlife, politics and diversity;
location and cost are also listed. A blurb from the school itself leads the way. But then things get interesting. For each school, two or three students give their in-depth, no-holds-barred opinion of fellow students, professors,
the social scene and activities, diversity on campus and academics. While two or
three students seems a small percentage from which to form a valid impression, the editors assure us in the prologue that each student is giving an opinion that matches those of the majority of his classmates. With the honesty of youth, these opinions are, in most cases, stated bluntly and thoroughly.
The format is easy to follow; its consistency is one of its strengths. It is easy to compare and contrast each school within the various categories. For instance, it
is no surprise that heavy drinking is the main social activity for a very large number of the schools. But it
is the discussion of the acceptance, or lack of acceptance, of non-drinkers that
is different. ”If you don’t like to drink, or aren’t able to tolerate drunken
people every weekend don’t bother with Colby. You just aren’t tough enough.”
Students also frankly discuss whether diversity is a fact or just lip-service in university brochures. The reviews evaluate the reputation of their school
against the reality and include pointed paragraphs on “what admissions office won’t tell you.” A behind-the-scenes look at college campuses today by some of our brightest, articulate youth.
This book came to this reviewer, as the parent of a senior, at the perfect time. It includes information vital for any student looking into a college education. It
is written in a style both students and their parents will appreciate. The book’s ease of use, its in-depth, unique information and honest outlook should make it a required part of every high school guidance office’s shelf.