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Now You Can Compare Colleges the Way You Want to Compare Them
The problem is that the websites often have the data you’re interested in but it’s not searchable in the way you want or can’t be easily be exported into a useful format for you.
You could enter the data yourself into a spreadsheet for each school. Or if you’re lucky, the website will let you export comparison data for four schools but you don’t get to choose what data is used in the comparison.
The frustrating part is that you know the data has to be out there somewhere since so many of the websites seem to be using the same information. And you’re starting to feel there’s some sort of conspiracy to keep you from analyzing the information the way you want to.
Well, you’re right.Not about the conspiracy part (as far as I know) but that the data exists part.
At least 80% of the data on all the different college search sites can be found in one source–The Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is what drives the College Navigator and CollegeResults.org websites.
Use the Data to get Answers for the Questions You Want to Ask
Imagine what you could do if you had all the data for over 1500 colleges already entered into a spreadsheet ready for you to sort and search as you see fit?
Instead of being stuck with predefined size categories, you could decide that your ideal school size is between 4,500 and 6,000 undergraduates. Then you could eliminate all the colleges where the 75th percent SAT Math score was over 700.
And maybe you have a theory about the relationship between the arts and sciences on campus and only want colleges where at least 3.0% of the degrees awarded were in biology and the visual and performing arts.
Oh, you also only want schools where the average net price for families with incomes between 75,001 and $110,00 is less than $20,000. And that would get you a list of 29 colleges.
Want to see what schools have at least a 50% graduation rate, more than 5,000 students, 40% or better acceptance rate, and at least a 600 75th percentile for the SAT CR? You would get 93 colleges with the 5 year graduation rate and 45 colleges with the four-year graduation rate.
Yes, you would get to choose to use the financially significant four-year graduation rate as opposed to the commonly used six-year rate.
How many college search sites let you search by graduation rates?
Interested in colleges with January terms in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, or Wisconsin? There are 15.
Looking for potential merit aid at small, traditional student body colleges? There are 52 colleges with less than 3000 full-time undergraduates, less than 10% part-time students, less than a 610 for the 75th percentile SAT CR, and at least a 40% four-year graduation rate.
Wouldn’t you rather be analyzing information than doing data entry for every college that might be interesting?
Wouldn’t a spreadsheet that had information on over 200 variables for over 1500 colleges be a great place to start your search?
Such a spreadsheet exists. It has information on the 1567 four-year colleges in the United States that have at least 500 full-time undergraduates and are not for-profit institutions (public and not-for profit colleges only.)
“When I filtered our choices, we chose schools with retention rates over 75%, admission rate over 50%, and ACT 75th percentile that was at least 1 point less than her ACT score because we want to focus on schools where we have the greatest chance for scholarship. We also considered size and location. Once we had our 30 or more schools, we started eliminating the ones where full time faculty was less than 50% and where % of part time students was more than 20%. Then we noticed the % dorms for population and eliminated the ones that had less than 40% dorms available for its students because she’s looking for a tight knit student body and where living on campus is more the norm than the exception.
I think the spreadsheet is a real time saver for people like me who like spreadsheets and is trying to make a decision based more on facts than on emotion. Some schools on her list are from a pure emotion decision, but the spreadsheet helped point out some things that caused us to change our mind about like a school that had more than 40% part time students and the school she thought she liked until she saw that only 32% of the faculty were full time.”
It contains 235 columns of data including:
Just think how long it would take you to find and enter the data for 20 schools that you want to compare. Of course, you would have had to spent some time to get down to the 20 to begin with by searching on some of the same data you now want to compare.
You can now have your own set of data for your college search.
So what’s the catch?
No catch but there are two things that you need to know.
The data is from IPEDS not the Common Data Set (CDS) used by US News College Rankings and the College Board.
So it won’t include breakdowns of admissions by SAT scores or GPA. It won’t include information on average amount of financial need met, percentage of classes by class size, or the percentage of students participating in Greek organizations.
That data is unique to the CDS. Of course, recently some of it has crossed the realm of uniqueness to fiction but that’s another story.
That’s why I started off by saying that about 80% of the data is readily available which brings me to the second thing you should know about this data.
You don’t have to buy it from me.
You can download it yourself for free at the IPEDS website. I even show you how to do it on my website.
However, I promise that even with step by step instructions, it will take six to ten hours to get all the variables I have into a nicely formatted spreadsheet. And that’s assuming that you do it right the first time
So how much is your time worth?
That’s less than the average application fee for two colleges. And if you’re only applying to three colleges, don’t you want to make sure they’re three where you’ll get in, be happy, and maybe even get some merit money?
Think about how much time and money you are going to spend in applying to colleges.
You have to prep and take college entrance exams, write essays, possibly travel for interviews, request letters of recommendation, and pay application fees. Wouldn’t it make sense to also invest in finding the best colleges for you to apply to?
For $42, start searching and ranking colleges by the factors most important to you.
Best of all, if you are not happy with the spreadsheet for any reason, let me know within 60 days and I’ll refund your money, no questions asked.
For less than the cost of an AP Exam, you could spend your time comparing colleges instead of entering college data.
The spreadsheet is in Microsoft Excel 2007 format which requires Mac Excel 2011 to run on an apple. It includes the following variables:
Cost of Attendance