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The Best 371 Colleges, 2010 Edition (College Admissions Guides) Paperback – July 28, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: College Admissions Guides (Book 371)
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Review; Original edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375429387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375429385
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.7 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,382,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 5, 2009
The Princetown Review publishes a number of college search-related books, including the "Complete Book of Colleges" and this one. This book is essentially a distilled version of the "Complete Book", and frankly a lot more useful (but for people completely new to the college-searching process, definitely check that out too).

"The Best 371 Colleges (2010 Edition)" (832 pages) is similar to last year's edition. After holding the number of best colleges at 368 last year (remember this book started off in 1992 with the best 350), this time there are 5 new "best" colleges and 2 that didn't make the cut anymore, and so now we have 371 (if the inflation of "best" colleges continues, I surmise we'll get to 400 eventually). Those 5 new colleges are Angelo State University, Green Mountain College, Marywood University, Stonehill College, and the University of Charleston. There is a fun-to-browse 62 lists of best/worst, such as "Most Beautiful Campus", "Students Study the Most", "Party Schools", and "Most Politically Active Students" (my daughter is attending the No.2 ranked school on that list, it was ranked No.1 last year, so yes these rankings change from year to year).

The best feature of this guide remains the 2 page layout for each of the colleges, with in-depth information on campus life, academic selectivity (the number of applicants, how many were accepted, and of those how many actually decided to attend), up-to-date tuition and room/board costs (I checked the numbers of the college that my daughter is now attending, and they are accurate), etc.
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This book has good info on SAT scores and GPA's and college costs. It gives insight into the admissions philosophies of the colleges. It gives very heavy emphasis to students' views of the feel and social/party aspects of the schools, and many schools end up sounding alike - I would say over half of them in this book feature comments like 'hard liquor is popular on campus', 'social life is dominated by frats', etc. That is certainly good info to have.

The major shortcoming of this book, as I see it, is that it says virtually nothing substantive about the college's actual academic programs and requirements. My son is looking at Ivy League schools, and there is no info in this book about the differences in core requirements between the different Ivy League schools. It wasn't until we were on the student tour at Princeton that we learned that Princeton has a required senior thesis that averages, according to our guide, 80 pages, and that, because of this, virtually no student double majors. This same guide informed us about Columbia's Core Curriculum, heavily based on the Classics, that every student must take. Brown, he told us, is the most flexible Ivy, and has no core requirements. Well, for my son, anyway, all that was vital information and it mattered a lot more to him than some subjective student comments such as 'Everyone likes the Tigers' or 'All the students here are really friendly.'

The info we were seeking is all available online, at each college's website, of course. But it sure would be nice if college guide book writers would actually do a bit more work and write some substantive information about the academic requirements of each school.
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We used the last edition for our son and found it to be very well designed with information for both parents and kids. This edition has lived in our daughter's room as she combs through it. With all the access information right at the top of the page contacting the schools is made easy. Also the student's point of view area rings true. It is a good buy.
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In taking a Human Development course we learned that schools modify information, including graduation rates, to make them look better. I was very disappointed that this book listed schools like California State Universities which have very low graduation rates. I will not buy this book again. It is disappointing that some schools suppress complaints and problems and that the people who advertise do not check what is really happening at a college.
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Princeton Review makes it both fun and full of information. This appeals to the 17 year olds searching for a direction and for the adults wanting to get the real deal. Don't be turned off by the "real deal" about the social life. This information comes from students and that is all I am going to say.
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Princeton review gives a quality assessment of its college ranking and is pretty accurate based on my personal trips to some of these. one important stat that most resources lack is the 4 yr garduation rate - and most colleges don't report it accurately.
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My daughter and I have found this and the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2010, 26E the two most useful books to help her narrow down her choices. We started off on the [..] website (also useful--and free) to find colleges that offered her major. We used some of the statistics on that site to further narrow it down. More than half of the colleges left were in this or Fiske (there is a lot of overlap--not many in one book but not the other, at least for the colleges on her list). This book gave much more "real life" information than the dry statistics on the college board website. My daughter chose to eliminate colleges where life revolved around football and/or the Greek system (which could be a plus for other students--the book doesn't make any moral judgments!) It includes the academic atmosphere: easy, hard, lots of red tape, large or small classes, cold and distant profs vs. enthusiastic profs who interact with students. It also gives a bit of feel for the types of students you are likely to find: political leanings, preppies, jocks, nerds, hippies, etc. Whatever a student's preferences in these areas, they will be able to get a better feel for which colleges may be worth a visit and which ones they almost certainly won't like. I would add though, that only students looking at more selective schools are likely to find many of interest here. Judging from the schools we browsed, it seems to start (selectivity-wise) around the big state universities and go up to the top Ivy League schools.
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