How to Find The Best College Guides

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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As a high school student applying to college, you have so much work to do that you can’t always focus on finding the best rankings lists or college guides. Even more than that, you don’t always have time to figure out which recommendations for the best college guides to trust. We believe you shouldn’t have to spend your time on finding this information either. To help you out, we’d like to break down how to find the best college guides for you.

The criteria for the best college guides

Is it rated well?

Ratings are a quick way to discover if the average student found a college guide helpful. Checking out the average rating on sites like Amazon or Goodreads can give you a lot of quick information about a college guide. They can also give you more in-depth reviews from readers.

Is it often recommended by professionals?

User ratings matter, but professional ratings may be more helpful. Find out if your college counselor recommends it, or if it’s recommended by colleges you are interested in. Note though that if a college recommends it, it may not offer the most unbiased information out there.

How current is the information?

Colleges and the college application process changes a lot. The SAT keeps changing its scoring standards, for example. While purchasing the most recent version of a guide may not be wholly necessary, it could be helpful.

How in depth is it?

So much basic information about a college is available online these days, so a guide needs to offer more than the standard website. This includes specific information about what makes each college good (professors, student opportunities, etc.), a comprehensive list of colleges to consider, and student testimonials.

Does it suit your needs?

If you’re not interested in a liberal arts college, then a guide to the best liberal arts colleges, no matter how amazing it is, will not be the best for you. Make sure a guide has the information you need before you invest your time and money into it.

Is it unbiased?

Before purchase, make sure to look at the methodology of the college guide. You want to make sure schools did not pay for their ranking or entry into the guide in any way. You’ll also want to make sure the book was not edited by members of a particular college. These are all signs of bias.

Our recommendations

Fiske Guide to Colleges

The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges

Princeton Review Guides

College Handbook

Best Colleges Guidebook

Again, the best college guides will be those that help you the most in your college search. But now you should have a better sense of what that means, and how you can go forth to find the right college guide for you.

Questions? Let us know!