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Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012 Paperback – July 1, 2011

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I'm a fan of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Each profiled school is described by a well-crafted 1,000 to 2,500 word essay that draws on information from students, administrators, and independent research. The book is pleasingly readable with concise side boxes containing numerical data on SAT scores, retention rates, acceptance rates, and so on.

Don't expect a ton of objective data in the Fiske Guide to Colleges. The lover of numbers would do better with the U.S. News and World Report Ultimate College Guide or Peterson's Four-Year Colleges. That said, numbers rarely tell the story of a school effectively. The essays in the Fiske Guide employ both subjective and objective information to capture the real "feel" of a school. Since picking the perfect college is more about a personality match than anything numerical, Fiske's efforts to capture the personalities of the schools should be applauded. " -

"Any prospective college student should certainly purchase a copy of this book. Fiske's Guide to College 2008 will become your virtual bible as you begin and progress through the difficult and often overwhelming college admissions process." -

"The guide is notable as much for its focus on each school's personality and quality of life as for its statistical data and admissions information. " - AP column Financial Bookshelf

"This guidebook makes an excellent effort to give students good, relative info for school-to-school comparisons." - Newsday

This is the encyclopedia of colleges. It covers the most competitive 300 colleges in the U.S., including SAT ranges, size of the student body, most popular majors, class size, information on the surrounding area, student life and crossover colleges. There is also a wonderful intro section that lists "best colleges" by area of study, like business, theatre or engineering. If you only buy one college book, this should be it.

About the Author

Edward B. Fiske served for 17 years as education editor of the New York Times, where he realized that college-bound students and their families needed better information on which to base their educational choices. He is also the author of the Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.


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Product Details

  • Series: Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks; 28 edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402209622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402209628
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.3 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012" (848 pages) is a curious college-guidance/search book in my opinion. It lists the "best and most interesting" colleges in the country, about 300 out of 2,200 four year colleges in the US (and even a couple of Canadian and British schools) are written up. According to the introduction, they were selected on the basis of academic quality, geographic diversity, a balance of public and private schools, and schools that are currently popular for certain programs (engineering and technical schools, religious emphasis, etc.). Being from Ohio, I look at the list of 12 schools that "made the cut" and inexplicably Xavier University (a fine Jesuit college here in Cincinnati) is left out of the book. Huh? While the descriptions give a good flavor of a particular college, there are essentials missing, such as the exact tuition/room/board (there is only a general 1 to 4 star rating on how expensive a college is, and even those are misleading, for example American University is listed as "moderately" expensive). Also not helpful in my opinion is that the colleges are presented alphabetically, rather than by state, since most kids look at colleges in a particular state (usually their home state), although there is an index by state.

On the other hand, the descriptions of the schools are oftentimes right on point. Check the first sentence on American University (where my youngest one is going): "If the odds to enter Georgetown are against you and you can't see yourself on GW's highly urban campus, welcome to American University." That is EXACTLY what happened to my daughter: not admitted to Georgetown, admitted to GW and AU, but not at all charmed by GW's urban campus, hence she's at American. The descriptions of the school my son attended are also on point.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul K. Stauffer on July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good college guide, among the best available. I have a 2010 edition and looked forward to the updated 2012 edition, as my daughter is a Senior in high school. The overall write-ups tend to emphasize the positive, with minor coverage of the negatives. The guide has helpful summary ratings on three categories. 1. Academics, 2. Social, and 3. Quality of Life. It can range from 1 to 6 in each category. Some of the ratings seem to be off, but generally they get it right.

Make sure you read the parents and student pledges at the back of the book. They are helpful, true, and amusing.

I was a bit disappointed that some of the info is not accurate. Some things I found wrong or puzzling:

1. Goucher College criticism that says the library closes at 6PM on Saturday. That was true in the old library from a few years ago. It is open 24/7.

2. Reference to Towson State in the Goucher College review: Towson University is the name of the school, as it has been since 1997. You would think the editors would pick up this name change, since it was 13 years ago.

3. University of Maryland not listed for strong music programs from large universities. Not only is MD strong in music, they have the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, which is among the largest and nicest facilities on the East Coast. Big omission.

I am taking off one star for its inaccuracies. Also, Kindle edition is highly needed! This book is too thick to cart around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Treebranch on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The qualitative information in Fiske seemed a useful supplement to the more thorough statistical data available through U.S. News the first time I bought it in 2008, even though I had doubts about the reliability of its very small sampling of opinions. However, for all the colleges we looked up in the 2012 edition, the commentary is virtually unchanged from the one four years ago. Thus, it's not worth buying more than once unless you check beforehand to make sure there's been major updating.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By samenjoe on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Fiske guide is not a bad place to browse colleges, but inaccuracies in those places we happen to know makes one wonder if descriptions of places we don't know are also inaccurate. One example: the entry on UCSB does not mention the recent surge in Nobel prize winning faculty (or other prestigious awards), barely mentions the very original and selective College of Creative Studies ("the Graduate school for Undergrads", especially excellent in Physics), and appears to simply have reprinted old descriptions of the school as the surf-and-party school on the beach. That may well have been true 15 or 20 years ago but things have changed a lot since then. Generally speaking, the recent sea changes in the entire UC system (mostly bad trends due to state defunding) are not adequately addressed.
Another annoying feature is the order--one reader said schools should be arranged by state, and it would probably make more sense. One often has to go to the index to find schools because the order is not consistent. Canadian and British schools are hard to find at best, and there are some strange omissions--where are Oxford and Cambridge for example?
Lastly, our copy was defective, with about 70 pages in the second third of the book printed upside down and scrambled, which made it really difficult to use. There didn't seem to be a way to get a replacement copy.
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