(This is part 9 of Comparison of Top 11 College Search Engines)
After reviewing all eleven college search engines’ ability to search on various categories (you have been paying close attention, haven’t you?), you should realize that it’s nearly impossible to compare the results. There simply isn’t enough consistency between the websites in how they allow users to define their searches. But that isn’t keeping me from trying.
So what were the final results? Let’s start by reviewing the criteria:
- 4 year institution
- Doesn’t care about private or public
- She’ll have the common northeast centric preferences of the following states: Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
- Size between 5,000-10,000 undergraduates
- Near major city since no one says put me in the boonies.
- Selectivity-medium because she knows she’s not going to get into Harvard but doesn’t want to go where they take just anybody
- Major in Business
Of the eleven college search engine websites I reviewed, I had to eliminate Unigo completely from the results since it would only allow you to search by one state at a time. I ended up using a zip code for Cappex, CollegeProwler, and College Reality Check instead of states. It was 250 miles of zip code 12508 in New York, however, College Reality Check only allowed 100 miles.
I could select for the specific size on only four websites with the rest ranging from as low as 2,000 students to as many as 15,000. Selectivity wasn’t an option on all the websites and where it was, most lacked a definition using terms such as “most” or “more” selective. Trying to select only for major cities was also very inconsistent.
But I tried to get as close to the search criteria as possible. The following table lists the number of schools found at each website.
|College Reality Check||36|
|My College Options||35|
|DIY College Search Spreadsheet||24|
Between the ten college search engines with usable results and the DIY College Search Spreadsheet, there were 176 unique schools. Not a single school showed up in all searches. The closest was the New Jersey Institute of Technology that was found in ten of the searches followed by Morgan State University and Rutgers University-Newark appearing in nine searches each. A total of 93 schools only showed up in one of the searches with another 39 appearing twice. Only 44 schools were listed three or more times.
Not only do the college search engines make it difficult to define your college search by parameters most meaningful to you, they also make it difficult to compare the results. While they may provide generous amounts of information on the individual college profiles, there is usually no way to select which information elements you want to use to compare the schools. So if you want to compare on graduation rates or financial aid, you may have to copy the information to a place where you can make the comparison yourself.*
Ultimately, you’ll probably find yourself using just one or two favorites that generally meet your needs. Just keep in mind the possible limitations so you don’t overlook schools that might provide great academic as well as financial aid opportunities.
*Except, of course, if you use the DIY College Search Spreadsheet