Boatloads of College Information
The single most effective tool in creating my college list has been the information provided about each college. This information helped me to narrow down my list from 24 schools to 13, a much more realistic and manageable college list.
A few of the best information features…
THE FISKE GUIDE
I read the Fiske Guide for each school on my list, and ultimately this guide is what led me to eliminate schools from my list. The Fiske Guide rates academics, social life, quality of life, and expense on a scale of 1-5. For me, this was very helpful, as it is a great way to measure academic rigor. Also, the Fiske Guide lists the strongest programs of the school. This is crucial in finding the right school, and played a large role in building my list. As I hope to major in biochemistry or something of that nature, I created a list primarily of schools that have strong science programs. Another aspect of the Fiske Guide that I used to my advantage was the listing of overlap schools. This list helped me to find several schools, all with the specific criteria I was looking for. For example, I went to visit Williams College and absolutely loved it, however, everything about it was exactly what I thought I didn’t want. So, my list at the time did not include the qualities I loved about Williams. Using the overlap feature on the Fiske Guide, I was able to find more schools that shared the same qualities as Williams: Amherst, Brown, Middlebury, Stanford and Yale. Four of these overlap schools ended up on my list. Surprisingly, the three or four paragraphs written about each college provide a lot of insight into what the school is like. The Fiske Guide is honest, and includes the opinions of real students, so you really get a sense for the strengths and weaknesses of the school. A college description usually includes information about what students do for fun, both on and off campus, how heavy the workload is, sports, food, and any traditions or facts unique to the school.
THE CSQ SUMMARY
This is another favorite feature of mine. This tool allows me to compare my test scores (both SAT and ACT) to those of each college. It is provided in a clear graphic that easily gives me an idea of where I stand compared to other students. Of course, college admissions are based on far more than test scores, but it gives me an idea of whether or not a school is at all realistic. Here is what a CSQ Summary looks like for both ACT and SAT:
THE ESSAY TAB
This feature is probably one of the best features in Guided Path, and is becoming increasingly important as application season gets closer. This button provides any essay questions required for the school, including both common app and supplemental questions, and includes word limits and a link to the essay page so you can easily double check the questions. This summer as I have begun writing college essays, this feature has become very handy, because I can see how much work I need to do at a glance. It is a great tool to stay organized and to stay ahead. Here’s a peek at what the essay tab looks like:
Also, when you finish an essay, you can click the check mark on the left side of the row so you know you have completed the essay and can move on. I know that is a very small feature, but it is extremely satisfying to check off an essay.
Check out the link in the upper left hand corner that reads “College Essay Guy: Tips for Writing GREAT Essays”. This link has some great tips on how to improve your writing, and also recommends many exercises to inspire some new ideas.