Supercharged Search


There was a time, not so long ago, when the majority of information readily available to students researching US colleges was produced by the colleges themselves. Glossy viewbooks, costing thousands of dollars and mailed to addresses purchased from ETS (Educational Testing Services), were the coin of the realm.

Then, in 1983, came US News & World Report's now-famous (and some would say infamous) annual "rankings."

And now?

The colleges still create viewbooks. US News still generates rankings.

But the amount and nature of information available to a would-be college student is vastly different from the information that was available even five years ago.

And if you know how to search, you can potentially put yourself in a position to not only make a better decision, but to make a better impression, as well.

So, what's out there?

What about school-based information from sources other than the admissions office? Student newspaper? Student blogs? Career Services Office? Financial Aid Office?

Admissions insiders' advice:
ask about first-to-second-year retention (this is also available on the College Navigator site under the "Retention and Graduation" tab of each individual school's page), remember that there are multiple schools at which you could be happy, don't hit the "submit" button at 1am in the morning or without anyone else having seen your work, take charge of your own process, try to have a little fun with it.

Your peers recommended: aims to put students in greater control over which colleges they hear from; you might want to check it out. offers live-chat and other interactive options for connecting with schools virtually.

Tailor your questions to what really matters to you. E.g. if campus life is high on your list of things to care about, ask schools about the availability of on-campus housing.

Research the stuff that would be a "deal-breaker" for you... no sense in wasting a visit if there's something about a school you KNOW you couldn't handle

Check out College Prowler or College Confidential for unfiltered, subjective information on schools... but remember that yours is the opinion that REALLY counts.

Make whittling your list down a serious goal... seeing more schools and doing more research can help you cross schools off.

Too many applications = too much money & too much time!

Find out if a school superscores the ACT here:

See a list of testing-optional schools here:

And again, just for fun, here's a UDel Musical video that made a fairly big splash when it first came out:

Here's a list of regional college information programs this fall:

Of course there's still no substitute for an actual old-fashioned in-person visit!

The NJSCA "College Open House" pages (collected according to geographic location):

New Jersey College Open Houses link:

Pennsylvania College Open Houses link:

Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia College Open Houses link::

Click on the college's link in the left column to be taken to their Open House website, if available.

Be sure to call colleges in advance to verify the date and time as some of these dates may change. Some schools request that you register before coming to an open house. Many schools besides those listed offer open houses. Call your prospective colleges and universities for their schedule. It is an excellent idea to include both open houses and college tours in your college exploration. The open house allows you to see many of the activities available on campus while the traditional college tour lets you experience the college in a more typical environment.