College Search Book Review
This perennial best seller is a quick-and-easy guide to learning some "inside" subjective opinions about hundreds of American colleges and universities. I've been a fan of this book as a college search tool for many years. Why? Well, I like the quotes gathered from real students at the various colleges. Princeton Review distributes thousands of questionnaires across the country and then compiles student responses into this book. The subjectivity is refreshing. For example, there's a "Survey Says" section in each school profile that's a kind of "What's Hot" and "What's Not" summary of the school's high-profile issues. It's a kind of opinionated snapshot of student attitudes about the school and surrounding community. There are also quick snapshot ratings of academic quality, financial aid, quality of life, and admissions difficulty. The relative weighting and importance of application factors is also detailed for each college.
As with any source of compiled information, though, be sure to double-check key data that are important to your decision making process. Errors and outdated information have been known to pop up from time to time in this book. One of the more amusing sections contains rankings of schools by various categories such as professor accessibility, good food, partying, admissions difficulty, and so on. Granted, these rankings are highly subjective, but they make for interesting comparisons. In the majority of cases, however, I have found the evaluations to be broadly accurate. That's the advantage of guidebooks. They can help a student narrow his or her candidate field, as long as just one book is not the single source of information.
Reviewed by Dave Berry