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The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2013: Students on Campus Tell You What You Really Want to Know Paperback – Jul 3 2012
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“Savvy parents and students hold this book to be a must-read.” ―New York Daily News
“As intimate as a late-night chat in a dorm room.” ―The Atlantic Monthly
“Invaluable in choosing and getting into a college.” ―Chicago Tribune
“Student-written profiles in The Insider's Guide...are lively and informative and strike the tone of a college pal offering advice.” ―Rolling Stone
“Who better to tell prospective students about life at college than current students?” ―Boston Herald
About the Author
The Yale Daily News is produced by the undergraduates at Yale University. It has been serving the university and New Haven, CT since 1878.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Does it deliver on the cover's promise? Does it "tell you what you really want to know?" That's harder to judge, for the essays vary significantly in quality and aim at students, not parents. Access to beer is a recurring topic. Prospective students might find the book most useful prior to a campus visit.
This and other college guides fail to do innovative work that would help consumers better compare schools. Such work requires going beyond the Common Data Set and pushing schools to reveal information that they'd prefer to hide or downplay. So what's missing? What do I really want to know?
What are my chances of being unable to enroll in specific courses? Colleges have computerized their course selection process and should be able to provide detailed data on which courses are difficult or next to impossible to enroll in. The Amherst College essay notes: "Some students, however, are frustrated by the difficulties of registering for courses taught by Amherst's 'celebrity professors' ..." Too bad there aren't some overall statistics. This issue is probably more critical at large state universities where one reads that students often have to tack on a fifth year because they had difficulty in getting the courses they wanted.
What's the campus security situation? The Clery Act forced colleges to report on campus crime. As the recent scandals at Penn State and Amherst have shown, college administrations view crime as a PR nightmare and have a natural inclination to underreport. Guidebook editors would provide a valuable service to push for better reporting and to publicize those statistics that do exist. You won't find them in this and other guidebooks. A savvy student or parent can learn about campus crime by using "clery" when searching college websites. Maybe the links to these reports can be added to the summary data section.
How do a college's students perform on the standardized exams for professional school? Some students begin undergraduate school intending to continue their education afterwards in law, medical, business or graduate school. No guidebooks provide any information on how a college's students perform on the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE. Savvy students or parents might ask about these scores during a campus visit, but don't expect an answer. Again the guidebook industry could perform a valuable service by pushing for these data.
The book prides itself on providing "insider" information from students, and from that perspective it seems to do well. It also gives you some very brief and basic statistical info on what ACT and SAT scores need for the school, and how many are accepted and then actually enter. Beware of the real numbers, though: the tuition and room and board numbers for the school where my youngest is in DC seems AT LEAST two years old, if you can believe it. That said, this is not a book for HS students looking to start their college search (check out instead the recently released 2013 Fiske Guide to Colleges, or the Princeton Review's 2013 Complete Guide to Colleges). If anything, this book might be helpful AFTER they have narrowed down their choices and then looking for some further insight. An alternative college search/guidance book I would recommend in a heartbeat over this (or any other book, for that matter) would be the Princeton Review's 2013 edition of "377 Best Colleges", which is the best college-shopping boon, bar none.