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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
"The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2012" (943 pages) is a curious book. It brings an assessment of about 300 colleges and universities, but it never really explains how these places are actually selected from the 2000+ of colleges and universities out there, otehr than some general statements in the introduction. I am most familiar with colleges in DC (where my youngest is going, and where I went myself) and Ohio (where I live, and where my oldest attended college), and while I perused some of the other chapters (they are listed state by state), I read the DC and Ohio chapters very carefully. First the good: the assessment of the colleges in DC seem right on target. I asked my daughter about some of the statements made in here about her particular college, and she agreed with them (I attended the same place, 25+ years ago). As for the Ohio chapter, the listing of Antioch College, which closed its doors for undergraduate students due to financial problems in June, 2008, has FINALLY been deleted. The Ohio chapter lists 13 colleges, including such institutions as as Ohio U and Bowling Green State U. The review on the Ohio college my son attended seems on point. But inexplicably, Xavier University (a fine Jesuit college here in Cincinnati) is left out of the book. Wow.

The book prides itself on providing "insider" information from students, and from that perspective it seems to do well. It also gives you some very brief and basic statistical info on what ACT and SAT scores need for the school, and how many are accepted and then actually enter. Beware of the real numbers, though: the tuition and room and board numbers for the school where my youngest is going in DC seems AT LEAST 2 or 3 years old, if you can believe it. That said, this is not a book for HS students looking to start their college search (check out instead the recently released 2012 Fiske Guide to Colleges, or the soon to released Princeton Review's 2012 Complete Guide to Colleges). If anything, this book might be helpful AFTER they have narrowed down their choices and then looking for some further insight. An alternative college search/guidance book I would recommend in a heartbeat over this (or any other book, for that matter) would be the Princeton Review's 2012 edition of "376 Best Colleges" (just released).
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 23, 2011
Every year, America's "best and brightest" high school graduates head off for college. Five year later, the MAJORITY are not "college graduates", they are "college dropouts". The students who dropped out enrolled at the WRONG college.

Most of the high school students I've known chose a college based upon where their friends are going, where their parents went, or which "Big State University" had a winning football team or "Final Four" basketball team last year. The majority of students who enroll at "Big State University" never gave serious thought to attending a private college, due in part to financial concerns.

"The Insider's Guide" provides details on the strong financial aid programs at private colleges that reduces the net cost of a private education to an amount that is similar or LESS than the cost of attending "Big State U". The fact is, a top high school graduate can get the financial aid they need to attend a private college.

The "Insider's Guide" does a good job of describing the personality of each college. Colleges such as Baylor and BYU provide a comfortable environment for students from conservative backgrounds, students for whom even dancing involves moral issues. But, the typical student who is happy at UC-Santa Cruz would be miserable at BYU or Baylor. The school's personality needs to match the student's personality.

The weakness of the "Insider's Guide" is that it is limited to only about 300 colleges. And, half of those colleges are in the northeast and midwest. That means few colleges are listed for less populated parts of the USA, such as New Mexico, North Dakota, and Montana.

Although only a small number of colleges were selected, they were selected with care. I worked at a college in Michigan. The faculty of my college were eager to enroll their own children at a high quality college that would prepare them for medical school, law school, or for a PhD program. The four colleges in Michigan that were most highly esteemed by college faculty were Albion, Alma, Hope, and Kalamazoo College. All four are including in the "Insider's Guide".

The Guide also includes about thirty or forty colleges that are generally considered to be mediocre. The Guide wanted to include colleges in all parts of the USA, and in some states, the best college is second tier or third tier when compared with the best colleges in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, or Ohio...the states where every village seems to have a good college.

The "Insider's Guide" points out the strongest programs of each college. The colleges that are strongest in the traditional liberal arts are often weak in engineering and technical fields. Likewise, some of the best colleges for engineering would be a miserable place to major in history. This book helps students find the schools that match their interests and goals.

The fact that the MAJORITY of America's college students never earn a degree is a tragic waste of both talent and resources. Matching students to the best college for their personality, values, and interests dramatically increases the odds they will earn a degree. The "Insider's Guide" is an essential resource to students to the RIGHT college so that they may thrive and be successful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2012
I know everyone's experience in college is unique and publishing a book about what each college is really like is tough, but even taking this into account I found this book disappointing. I remember a similar book about colleges when I was looking at schools (a loooong time ago) that I thought was quite helpful and candid. This book feels written by committee, with an eye to the legal consequences of saying anything at all critical or even straightforward. The result feels like a bland recitation of each school's well-known hackneyed reputation. I don't feel like I really learned much from it. Although dated and covering fewer schools, I found "Student's Guide to Colleges" far more enlightening.
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on August 13, 2012
This book is a great supplement for more nuts and bolts guides that focus on more of "just the facts." This is a subjective review book, based on interviews/feedback from students, but based on my knowledge of many of the schools from experience or from people I know, it is usually pretty consistent in providing at least a reasonable perspective as to the "culture" of the school, to help a high school student narrow down or identify other schools he or she may not have thought of previously. I think it is worth purchasing, and when combined with the great online resources available and something like the Princeton Top Colleges guide, your student has a nice base for college search resources.
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on December 23, 2012
Tells it like it is from the mouths of those who actually go there. Not trying to sell the school, rather gives a realistic picture!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2012
Purchased as a gift for a younger relative. It has been perfect for her pre-college questions and process. I bought this as a part of a group of books for this purpose.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Great book for my son who is "thinking" about certain schools, I have not looked at the book but my son has and said it had some very helpful information
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