With this new edition, The Insider's Guide to the Colleges has been, for 41 years, the most relied-upon resource for high school students looking for honest reports on colleges straight from the college students themselves. Having interviewed hundreds of their peers on more than 330 campuses and by getting the inside scoop on everything from the nightlife and professors to the newest dorms and wildest student organizations, the reporters at the Yale Daily News have created the most candid college guide ever. In addition to the in-depth profiles, this edition has been updated to include:
* Essential statistics for every school, from acceptance rates to popular majors
* A "College Finder" to help students zero in on the perfect school
* All-new FYI sections with student opinions and outrageous advice
The Insider's Guide to the Colleges cuts through the glossy Web sites and brochures to uncover the things that matter most to students, and by staying on top of trends, it gives both students and their parents the straightforward information they need to choose the school that's right for them.
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About the Author
The Yale Daily News is produced by undergraduate students at Yale University. It is based in New Haven, Connecticut.
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The Insider's Guide to the Colleges 41st Edition 2015
By Staff of the Yale Daily News
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 The Yale Daily New Publishing Company, Inc.
All rights reserved.
How to Use This Book
How We Select the Colleges
One of the most difficult questions we wrestle with here at The Insider's Guide is which schools to include in the upcoming edition. From more than 2,000 four-year institutions nationwide, we only cover slightly over 300 colleges. We examine a number of criteria in deciding which colleges to select, but our first priority is always the quality of academics offered by the institution. Another key factor in our decision is the desire to offer a diversity of options in The Insider's Guide. Thus, we have included schools from all 50 states as well as several top institutions in Canada. In our school choices, we have also taken into account the range of extracurricular options available to students, including publications, teams, and ethnic organizations. Each year we review our list of schools, research potential additions, and try to include new colleges that have not been featured in the past. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and the most comprehensive insider information.
We have made a point to review the largest state-affiliated institutions because of the significant number of students who apply to and matriculate at their states' schools. These universities tend to offer a particularly wide range of opportunities. We have also made every effort to include a broad cross section of smaller colleges because of the unique education they offer. Many of these schools are liberal arts colleges, generally clustered in the Northeast, offering a broad but personalized education. To add to the diversity of schools reviewed by The Insider's Guide, we have also included selections from the most prominent technical schools and creative and performing arts schools. These institutions provide specialized education, combining general knowledge with a concentration in a particular field. The sampling of schools in this category is by no means comprehensive, and we encourage students interested in specialized institutions to explore their options more deeply through additional research.
In sum, this book covers the colleges we believe to be among the most noteworthy in both the United States and Canada. This selection does not imply in any way that you cannot get a good education at a school not listed in the Guide. We strongly encourage students to use strategies discussed within this book to explore the wide variety of schools that we did not have space to include here, including community colleges, state schools, international schools, and professional schools. In addition, it's not guaranteed that you will have a blissful four years if you attend one of the schools we feature! Rather, we believe that every school in the Guide offers students the raw materials for constructing an excellent education.
It's All Up to You
Now that you have picked up a copy of The Insider's Guide, it's up to you how to use it. A few dedicated readers scrutinize the book from start to finish, determined to gain the most complete understanding of the college process and the schools that are out there. Others flip through the Guide for only a few minutes to look at FYIs from schools that interest them or to read funny quotes taken from nearby colleges. Another good strategy is to use the College Finder, Editors' Choice lists, and statistics that begin each article to learn more about colleges that you may not have heard of before. It might be worthwhile to read up on colleges that you wouldn't initially consider — you just may find yourself intrigued by the student perspectives. Take advantage of the opening features of the book — they are designed to help you zero in on schools that meet your search criteria. You can also explore these beginning sections to learn what is unique and important about schools you are already considering. We encourage all these approaches. Above all, we hope that the Guide is fun to read, educational, and a useful aid in helping to make the college selection process less stressful.
While our Editors' Choice lists use a mix of statistics and subjectivity to provide an alternative perspective on the schools we include, we have avoided the temptation to pigeonhole the colleges with some kind of catchall rating system, or worse, to numerically rank them from first to last. Our reason is that the "best" college for one person may come near the bottom of the list for another. Each student has his or her own particular set of wants and needs, so it would be impossible for us to objectively rank the schools from "best" to "worst." Whereas most rankings focus solely on academic factors, the college experience is a balance of academics, social life, extracurricular activities, and much more.
Even so, some may wonder why we don't rate the colleges solely on the basis of academic quality. We think that attempting to come up with such a ranking is both impossible and undesirable. There are too many variables — from the many factors that contribute to the quality of a department and school as a whole to the articulateness and accessibility of the professor who happens to be your academic advisor. Furthermore, it's useless to try to compare a college of 2,000 students with a university of 10,000 (or a university of 10,000 with a state school of 40,000 for that matter) on any basis other than individual preference. Despite these reasons not to, some reportedly reputable sources such as national magazines often insist on publishing numerical rankings of colleges. We advise you not to take these lists too seriously. Oftentimes the determining factor in the rankings is a statistic such as "percent of alumni who donate money," something that means very little to most college applicants.
For over 40 years, The Insider's Guide has been dedicated to the belief that the best rankers of schools are students themselves, not magazine writers. Our goal, therefore, is to help you train your eye so you can select the college that is best for you. Remember, we may describe, explain, interpret, and report — but in the end, the choice is always yours.CHAPTER 2
Applying to college can seem as intimidating as reading through this thick book, but neither should be a chore. In the spring of your sophomore year of high school, your Aunt Doris, whom you have not seen in seven years, pinches your cheek and asks you where you are going to college. "How the heck should I know," you think to yourself. That fall, your mom tells you that the girl down the street with the 4.0 grade point average is taking the SAT prep course for the fifth time to see if she can get a perfect score and win thousands in scholarship money. You reply that you are late for school. You keep ducking the subject, but the hints come with increasing regularity. Not only has dinnertime become your family's "let's talk about Lauren's college options" hour, but friends at school are already beginning to leaf through college catalogs. Soon you find the guidance counselor's office crowded with your wide-eyed peers, and it's clear they aren't asking for love advice. Panicking, you decide to make an appointment with the counselor yourself.
When you first talk to your counselor, preferably in the early part of your junior year, you may not yet feel completely comfortable in high school, let alone prepared to think about college. The entire prospect seems far away, but choosing the right school for you takes a good amount of thought and organization — and a visit to your counselor is a solid start. You may even be wondering if college is the path you want to take after high school. And you're not alone. A good number of people choose to take a year or two off to work or travel before pursuing a college education.
One important resource in making a decision about any post-graduation plans is your counselor. College counselors have a wealth of information and experience from which to draw, and they can help you lay out a plan for whatever direction you wish to take. If you decide that college is your next step, you will have a lot of options. Although many schools are surveyed in this book, we have not included professional schools or community colleges, all of which also offer a wide variety of opportunities. With research of your own and the aid of your counselor, you should be able to find a school that will give you what you're looking for.
In your hunt for the best college, it is wise to do a little exploring of your own before sitting down with your counselor. Counselors can be invaluable advisors and confidants throughout the college admissions process, but sometimes counselors inadvertently limit your search by only recommending noncompetitive schools, or, conversely, by assuring you that you'll get into whichever school you want. A few may even try to dissuade you from applying to colleges that you are seriously considering. These cases aren't common, but they do happen. Regardless of your counselor's perspective, it is best if you already have an idea of what you are looking for, as it will help both you and your advisor sort out all the options. You can refer back to these initial goals as you learn more. In the end, always follow your instincts.
As you begin to wade through the piles of brochures, ask yourself questions. What factors about a school make a difference to you? What do you want in a college? A strong science department? A Californian landscape? A small student body? A great social life? Although each college is a mix of different features, it is wise to place your academic needs first. Check out the general academic quality of the school, as well as what kind of programs they offer. Please note: since many students change their majors repeatedly before finally settling down, it's a good idea to look for schools with programs in a number of areas that interest you.
Of course, it's impossible to think of all the angles from which you should approach your college search. You can't predict what your interests will be three or four years from now, or what things will prove most important to you at the college you attend. After all, those realizations are a big part of what the college experience is all about. But by taking a hard look at yourself now, and proceeding thoughtfully, you can be confident that you are investigating the right colleges for the right reasons.
As you begin the search, schools will start to seek you out as well. In the early winter of your junior year, you'll receive your PSAT scores, and unless you request otherwise, your mailbox will soon become inundated with letters from colleges around the country. The College Search Service of the College Board provides these schools with the names and addresses of students who show promise, and the schools crank out thousands of form letters to send, and often to students with backgrounds that they feel are underrepresented in their student population.
While sorting through these masses of glossy brochures, you'll probably notice that most of them contain lofty quotes and pictures of a diverse, frolicking student body. One of the best ways to find out if these ideals are actually truths is to visit the college. But before that, you can verify some of what you read by comparing it to nationally published articles and statistics. You will probably find the colleges that most interest you through your own research, and many of these schools wait for you to contact them before they send information. In that case, create a form letter that briefly expresses your interest in the college and requests materials. You'll get your name on their mailing lists, and they'll appreciate the fact that you took the initiative.
Throughout this process, make sure to listen to those who know you well and often have sound advice to share — namely, your parents and elder siblings. Besides having some ideas of schools you might enjoy attending, your parents also have great insight into how your education can and will be financed. If you come to an early understanding with your family about prospective colleges and financial concerns, things will move much more smoothly down the road. But be warned — the college search can be one of the most trying times in any parent-child relationship, and some parents become more or less involved in the process than students want. The best advice we can give is to remember that calm, patient discussions are a better tactic than yelling matches.
When consulting others about your college search, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind. Every piece of advice you receive will be a reflection of someone's own life experiences, and it is likely to be highly subjective. Most adults will suggest schools located in regions they know or colleges they have visited or attended themselves. Also, opinions are often based on stereotypes that can be false, outdated, or just misleading. Still, the more people you talk to, the better perspective you will gain on the colleges you are considering. Once you have a few outside ideas, this book can give you some inside information. If you like what you have heard about a particular school, follow up with some research and find out if it's still a place that calls to you.
As you approach the time when your final college list must be made, you will probably have visited college fairs and attended various college nights. Real-life representatives from the schools are always good to meet. Talking to current college students is an even more important step, as is visiting the schools that make it to your last list. During these encounters, ask the questions that are on your mind. Be critical and observant. When it's time for the final leg of the college selection process, you'll be calm and satisfied if you know you've really looked hard into yourself and all your options.
Whether your list of schools has been set for months or fluctuates on a daily basis, college visits are a great way to narrow down your choices and prioritize your list of options. Try to plan campus visits so you'll be finished by the fall of your senior year, especially if you are considering early application programs. Additionally, aim to see as many schools that interest you as possible — there's no better way to get a feel for where you'd like to spend the next four years of your life.
When you visit a campus, try to keep in mind why you are there. You have probably already seen the college viewbook with glossy pictures of green lawns and diverse groups of students in seminar-size classes. Now is the time to find out what the campus is really like. Is the student population truly that diverse? Do people really gather and play Frisbee on plush green lawns? What do the dorms actually look like? And most importantly, do you feel comfortable there?
If you are visiting a campus for an interview, make sure you schedule one in advance. Making the decision not to interview on campus may be a good one, however. While some schools require an on-campus interview, some insiders recommend that you request an alumni interview instead. Alumni interviews tend to be more convenient and less grueling than on-campus interviews. In any case, make sure you check a school's policy regarding interviews before you arrive, and schedule your visit accordingly.
While some prefer to visit colleges over summer vacation, we think the best time to visit is during the academic year, when regular classes are in session. During the summer months very few students are on campus, so it will be much more difficult to get a feel for the student culture and vibrancy (or lack thereof). Times of unusually high stress also will not give you a good idea of what ordinary life is like. For this reason, you'll also want to avoid exam periods and vacations. During the academic year, your questions about the campus are much more likely to be answered. You'll get a feel for the type of people at the school, and you'll get an idea of what it is like to be a student living on campus. It's important to get a good sense of what your daily life will be like if you end up attending the school.
Before you look at any college, take a little time to prepare. Perhaps you will want to come up with some kind of system to evaluate the schools you will visit. Putting together a list of characteristics that are important to you will make it easier to compare one school to the next, whether they be academics, the size of the campus, or the surrounding area's vibrancy and atmosphere. Make sure you jot down some notes on the schools during and after your trips. Although colleges may seem easy to differentiate at the time, your impressions of each may blur together when you are back at home, sitting in front of 10 seemingly identical applications.
An overnight stay with undergraduates can provide you with a more inside look at campus life. Most admissions offices have students on call who are happy to show you around campus, take you to some classes and parties, and let you crash in their dorms. If you have friends there, they are good resources as well. Either way, staying with students will help you see what an undergraduate's academic and social life is really like. One student said, "I found that it didn't matter much if I stayed over or not, as long as I got to talk to students. But if you do stay over, Thursday or Friday night is the best time." Sometimes it is hard to connect with students during a single day when everybody is rushing around to classes. Try to spend a night late in the week when students will have more time for you and the nightlife will be more vibrant. It is always possible that you will end up with hosts that are difficult to relate to or socially withdrawn. Don't let a bad hosting experience completely dictate your feelings about the college — just do everything you can to get out into the student body and explore what the school has to offer.
Excerpted from The Insider's Guide to the Colleges 41st Edition 2015 by Staff of the Yale Daily News. Copyright © 2014 The Yale Daily New Publishing Company, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Book,
The College Spectrum,
Introduction for International Students,
Students with Disabilities,
Terms You Should Know,
College Finder 2015,
Insider's Packing List,
A Word About Statistics,
The Colleges Listed by State,
About the Author,