82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2009
This guide is superior to every other college guide in every way. If you just want to know what tuition is, where the good party schools are, or what your total SAT needs to be, then by all means randomly pick up any of the other college guides on the market, they are all the same.
Perhaps the most important distinction is that Choosing the Right College doesn't parrot school propaganda (no where will you find official school boilerplate). Instead, the reviews are put together by independent visitors who interview students, professors, and school administrators. Further, each school profile details what academic life and student life is actually like, what academic requirements are (in most cases actually giving class names), what the cultural and political climate is (religious conservative, secular liberal, etc...), and what courses and professors (where applicable) to seek out in order to put together a genuine Core Curriculum.
The first reviewer of this book asks, "If you are interested in being forcefed an unreserved conservative criticism of some of the nation's top colleges, then look no further." I don't know if the reviewer in all her years of "college advising" and having "reviewed countless college guidebooks" in fact has children of her own. I however as a parent, do want to know ahead of time if there are co-ed bathrooms, whether LGBT clubs are permitted but ROTC is banned, whether there are "peer contraceptive counselors" (Harvard), and whether or not in four years of school if there are required courses in Western literature and US History. Are these exclusive "conservative" concerns? Ridiculous. Secondly, one CAN count all the college guide books, there are not that many. Together they do not come close to presenting a spectrum of "biases", unless of course you consider beige to be a vibrant hue. They are in fact all essentially the same bland regurgitation of filler you can find for free anywhere online. The editors of Choosing the Right College have done anyone wanting to know more about what a school is really like, regardless of their political persuasion, an invaluable service with this guide.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2009
This guide is as comprehensive as they come. Reviews all the top schools in each region of the country (over 100) and gives a concise, objective review of their social and academic settings, including interviews of actual students at each university - so you bypass the school's own propaganda about itself for the real scoop from real students. Handy lists of facts, pro's, and con's follow each review and the schools you're looking for are easy to flip to and get the scoop on. I used an earlier version of this guide for my own college search and found its review of my alma mater - even after 4 years there - to be spot-on. I recommend it now to all the high-school students I mentor - in my own community, in my family, and beyond. There are so many schools out there beyond the usual Ivy league or State school options most highschoolers are given. There is a school for every type and every goal, you just have to know where to look to get the most out of one of the biggest investments of your life - and 4 of the most important years. I'd highly recommend this guide to do just that. Good luck!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2009
My daughter is 14 and will be heading to college in a few years. I've had some grave concerns on whether college would be a good thing for her. I graduated with a Masters Degree in Business in 1976 and the quality of education I received at the California state university that I attended was marginal at best. I've worked in Human Resources for over 30 years at a very large company and found that the college that a person attended isn't really indicative of their performance on the job, whatever that job may be. I learned that early when I observed various co-workers who attended some very prestigious schools end up being excellent employees in some cases and very marginal employees in other cases. I soon began to realize that the school one attends is almost irrelevant when predicting future performance (the exceptions are, of course, colleges like MIT, or Caltech where they still have very high expectations of their students and don't compromise). Today's college graduates come to work inadequately prepared for the mandates of the job and many don't have the basic math, or writing skills to adequately perform.
I want, for my daughter, a school that will require the basics and won't require the nonsense courses that are meaningless in succeeding on the job. I would like her to obtain a good classical education. This book will be extremely helpful in finding the right school for my daughter that will prepare her for succeeding in life. My views are to keep her from the indoctrination of socialist professors and the nonsense that they teach, and to ensure that the university that she attends will allow her to utilize critical thinking and reason and will grade her on those virtues. The best professors that I ever had were those who I was unable to decipher their political leanings because they were interested in teaching the subject without the obligatory preaching that a lot of the socialist teachers believe is so important. I want an education for my daughter, not indoctrination. When one pays $25,000 - $40,000 per year for a school, the money should be well spent. This book will help in making the right decision.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
I attended 2 of the Universities reviewed in this book (undergrad and grad school) and the author captured the true essence of the Universities and what students experience....the good, the bad and the ugly. They must have talked with real students who engage in the experience at the universities. I was amazed with level of information and detail they were able to capture regarding the student co-curricular 'experience'. Some of the other college guides seem to repeat what the schools publish in their marketing materials.
Whether you are conservative, liberal or moderate, this book is an invaluable guide to let you know what you will 'be in for' when selecting a University. Reading some of the reviews, I see that a few are offended with the conservative nature of this book. For example, liberals can read this to find out where they will fit.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2009
I used the last edition of this book to help my oldest son choose a college, and I found it invaluable. Yes, the author is conservative, but even so the critiques are fairly evenhanded. I looked up some of the colleges I have experienced first hand (Oberlin, Case Western Reserve University, Cornell) and found the descriptions spot on. The guide acknowledged their strengths but didn't pull punches about their weaknesses, either. I wanted to make sure that the college my son ultimately chose would provide a good, balanced education. This book definitely helped.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2010
I was torn about this book at first. As someone who has both liberal and conservative views on certain things, I applauded some of this book's information but was equally disgusted by some of its biases. In the end, I think I am pleased with this guide's existence, since there is information that is not found in ANY other college guidebook. It even offers some valuable insight for the most staunchly liberal college-bound students. However, this book sees colleges in a very different light than most of the college books on the shelves.
For example, the ISI believes that a college must have a true core curriculum. It also judges colleges on how differing (read: conservative) viewpoints are regarded in its student body. (Are Republicans frowned upon?) The ISI also disparages grade inflation, buffet-style academics, mixed-gender housing, politically biased classes, and fluffy majors like Gender and Sexuality Studies or African Studies. These beliefs crop up again and again in each college profile.
For a savvy student who knows what her or she wants in a college, the biased information provided on these topics becomes uniquely helpful. Every other college guide has been wiped clean of anything politically incorrect, and Choosing the Right College offers up raw, real opinions.
However, the ISI's unabashed opinions about each college often contradict each other. For example, the guide complains about Cornell University's optional housing for minorities, like a Hispanic house or an African house. ISI argues that by segregating the minorities, no one else benefits from their perspectives and it creates a repeat of separate-but-equal facilities.
Fine. It's a legitimate opinion that is backed up well. But, at the same time, the ISI mourns the end of the traditional housing system at Harvard. Now, students don't choose their houses after freshman year, but instead are randomly placed in a house. School officials state that the old system of students choosing their houses caused a segregation of minorities from the rest of the campus. The ISI, in return, complains about the end of Harvard's distinctive and venerable housing system, which completely contradicts their take on minority segregation at Cornell.
Another incongruity comes up in the Wesleyan University and Hillsdale entries. The ISI mocks Wesleyan's queer group for "indoctrinating" area high schoolers through community outreach. On the flip side, the ISI cheers on the conservative bastion of Hillsdale College for creating area high school programs that promote conservative thought and beliefs, which could be said are equally "indoctrinating".
Despite its ideological shortcomings, Choosing the Right College is a deeply valuable source for students because of its frank, no-holds-barred opinions. It offers much more insight for both liberals and conservatives than the Princeton Review's squeaky clean profiles or the breezy nothings from the Yale Daily News.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2009
This book was just what I was looking for as we searched for the right college for our daughter. We had seen all the common statistics, GPA, graduating rate, etc. What we really wanted was a look into the "soul" of the schools; the not-so-obvious "flavor" of the schools. This book gave us a deeper perspective on the schools represented in the book. My only regret is that they weren't able to include more schools.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2011
This guide is a real mixed bag. On the plus side, its reviews are so much more detailed and incisive than the generic, cliche-ridden "unbiased" guides, where virtually every school ends up sounding like every other school. This book makes real distinctions (both descriptive and ideological) among schools and seeks to defend those judgements. That is refreshing and helpful.
Yet it is really important to understand the ideological orientation of this guide and to understand that in some ways, the editors observe a very obvious double-standard. While the guide tells you up front that it is conservative and that it values freedom of speech and freedom from political correctness and shaming of students to make them agree with liberal dogma, it never recognizes that there can be conservative versions of political correctness as well. Many schools get yellow and red lights for liberal political correctness, but I've never seen a conservative school (e.g. Hillsdale, Wheaton (IL), Grove City) in this guide get a yellow or red light for having a campus orthodoxy that inhibits free thought, speech, etc. or makes those with a dissenting ideology feel less comfortable. The editors need to choose which they value more: freedom of thought and speech or conservative ideology.
This book seems very good at recognizing schools that--while generally liberal--do not make life difficult for students who are not. But it conveniently ignores that--while it is far less common--some conservative schools also impose the same kind of pressures that the guide criticizes when done on the left. However, as long as you take into account the books perspective and flaws, it is a fantastic source of fresh and detailed information--far more informative than most generic college guides.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
First, anyone familiar with this publisher (ISI Books) knows that they tend to be conservative. Not rabid, reactionary, evangelical conservative, but right-of-center nonetheless. The publisher is your first clue.
Second, I can tell you that this enormous guide is NOT a guide to conservative colleges and universities. In fact, of the 140 institutions discussed within, some of the most outspokenly liberal are included. I won't name names, but you know the ones I'm talking about.
What this book is, is exactly this: A critical discussion of our best 140 colleges and universities through a conservative lens. That's what you get. It's a book designed to peek into the underbelly of our most prestigious institutions to look and see if quality takes a back seat to politics. The big brand-name schools are all here. Some come out looking pretty darn good, others not so good.
There are no rankings or ratings of any kind in this book. The 140 institutions are divided into geographic sections, and then listed in alphabetical order. Each school includes a descriptive essay and a small group of vital admission statistics. It's the essay I want to focus on.
If you're looking for discussion of beautiful campus architecture or the local party scene, this is not your book. The author clearly is out there to find evidence of academic quality and rigor, as I've mentioned before, through a conservative lens. This author likes schools with strict academic requirements and weak speech codes. He doesn't care for, and sees the contradiction in, institutions that offer students complete academic freedom but use political indoctrination or intimidation to limit students' opinions. He is also looking for broad exposure to western civilization, which leaves some narrow-track technical schools looking pretty weak.
He has gone far to interview students and professors to provide a candid, irreverent view of each college. I think that's a good thing. Some people will think it's akin to Nazism.
So, yes, there is a bit of an agenda here, but it's hard to argue with the assessments the author makes if academic rigor is important to you. Another quick note: Books like this rely on published admission data which, in many cases, can be severely out of date. Even though this guide calls itself a "2010-2011" book, most of the vital statistics come from 2007 or 2008. That's pretty old when you consider how quickly demographics are changing in our top colleges.
The publisher offers more up-to-date information on its web site.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2009
What is important is not choosing the "best" college, according to some statistics that conceal the arbitrary choices behind the objective-looking numbers. What is important is choosing the right college for you.
Dr. Thomas Sowell
This book accomplishes its mission.