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"Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013" (808 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 some 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 merely as "moderately" expensive, whoa!). 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 (the college of my youngest): "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 turned off by GW's urban campus and instead charmed by American's idyllic campus, hence AU. The descriptions of the school my son attended are also on point.

When my daughter was simply looking to get basic information, she did not spend a lot of time with this book. As she narrowed her choices, she did read up more on her pool of colleges in this book. Bottom line: if you are at the very beginning of your college search, this is not the book to start with. For that I might instead suggest "The Complete Book of Colleges" issued by the Princeton Review. The "Fisk Guide to Colleges" is instead more helpful to get a second (or third) opinion once your child has narrowed down his/her selection of colleges of interest (assuming of course it made the cut of 300).
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on August 9, 2012
A friend recommended this book to aid the college search with our son. It is well-organized and packed with information. My son has NOT been interested in the college process, but he actually started paging through this book and got pulled into comparing things like the male/female ratio and quality of life ratings at different schools. It's a start!
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on August 6, 2012
The Fiske guide is very helpful in both the information that is given and the organization of each college review. The comments by students give a different perspective than the other guides. Although the Best Value list is helpful, I wish there was a sort function associated with the Fiske Guide. (Perhaps there is an on-line guide that I haven't found yet.) Despite the large number of schools in the guide, it is not complete. Still, it's the best of those college guides I have read.
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on August 25, 2013
I only wish that Fiske would start publishing this online, even if the price were the same. Because the book is so thick, it's a bit difficult for students to use. I don't understand why they wouldn't publish a book like this where students are only looking for a few different schools anyway...
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on February 11, 2013
We have oodles of college look books having been through this process a time or two and this is by far the best guide. It was suggested by a family member and I didn't think it could be any better than what we already had ... But it is. It's clear, easy to follow structured format is great but the most helpful part amazingly, is the anecdotal commentary from actual students. A terrific resource!
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on February 23, 2013
The overall guide on academics, quality of life was very helpful for my daughter. She was able to eliminate some colleges that once held her interest just based on the Fiske review. Highly recommend. Easy to use, comparative information between colleges is also useful.
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on April 29, 2013
This book has a lot of schools throughout the country reviewed in depth. However, it skims over one of the largest school systems, the California State University system. I was thoroughly disappointed as that was the only system I was interested in reading about for the college application process.
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on October 14, 2012
We got so much out of using the guide for our older child four years ago,I immediately bought an updated version for this year's search.
At the front of the book is a self-survey, that really helps a student figure out what they are looking for in a college. I took our daughter's remarks and helped her by finding colleges in the guide pages, matching her answers to the very helpful summary information and icons for each school entry. We were able to hand the book back and forth this way, so the task was not too overwhelming for just one person.
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on April 11, 2013
I purchased this book for an online program I am enrolled in for College Counseling. This will be useful for me to use as I assist high school students with their college search and application process.
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on July 8, 2013
Third son to go through this process, and it has always been a help to have this lying around the house for them (and me) to peruse, start conversations with. There are places online to look through colleges, but having something in print is helpful, sometimes easier to use, and for us was good to sparking and sustaining conversations, exploring interests.
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