How Dinosaurs picked a college

Posted: February 15, 2015

Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a prospective college student would have to comb through file drawers full of viewbooks and brochures from colleges to decide which college to attend. If T. Rexie was lucky, his counselor had been in business a good long while and had accumulated lots of this kind of information from many colleges near and far. Some of it might be out of date, but at least you could see what the campus was like at some point in the Jurassic. If Rexie wasn’t lucky, the files mostly had information from schools within a day’s drive of the high school, and maybe some of the famous ones: Harvard, Stanford, Yale. He’d spend his study hall looking at pictures of smiling blonde aspiring actresses on the cover of brochures from UCLA.

Next, Rexie would haul the Big Book of College Majors off the shelf in the counseling office, guess what major might be related to something he wanted to do, look it up and find a list of colleges that offered that major. Then he would go back to the files to look up the schools on the list. Rexie loves files!

Luckily, you are not a dinosaur! The internet abounds with great resources for finding college information. If you have no idea where to start, the place to go is Big Future. Run by the College Board (the lovely people who bring you the SAT, PSAT and AP tests), Big Future is a searchable database of all 3,000+ institutions of higher learning in the US, plus some from other countries. You can narrow down your list by geographic region, major, price, standardized test scores and even which extracurricular activities you want to participate in at college. Big Future also has lots of videos and articles about applying to, paying for and succeeding in college.

If you already have an idea what colleges you want to learn about, try a site like Niche (formerly College Prowler), College Confidential or All of these sites feature student reviews of their schools as well as the more usual bits of info (majors, location, etc.). Just keep in mind that student reviews are probably biased one way or the other, and a "featured" school probably paid the site to put their entry at the top of your list. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't use these sites; you should. Just be a savvy consumer of information here, just like you are on the rest of the internet.

Check the Resources tab to find more of these great options for your college search. Or, if you're old school, you could still try this.

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