11 Best College Search Tools

11 Best College Search Tools

Deciding which college to attend is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a student. Factors such as cost, location, and reputation will play a major part in where you will ultimately spend the next four to six years of your life. But with so many college websites out there, how can you be sure that you’re getting the best information and the most accurate college rankings?

Well, you can start with our look at the 11 best college search tools. Each of these online resources is designed to refine, improve and ease your college selection process.

If you would rather start your college search with a look at the top schools, you can jump directly to our list of the best colleges and universities in the U.S., or check out the best online colleges this year.

11 Best College Search Tools

  1. College Navigator may have an old-fashioned interface, but this site has it all! Create individual school lists, generate side-by-side comparisons of your top choices, and export all of your results into a downloadable spreadsheet. The site also lets you save searches for future use, so that you do not have to start from scratch every time you add a new school to your application list.

  2. Sponsored by the US Department of Education, College Scorecard allows you to compare colleges, costs, admission rates, and other metrics to narrow down the list of schools you would like to apply to. You can even search for certification programs if you are looking for something more specific than a typical bachelor’s or associate degree.

  3. The Custom College Ranking tool from the data scientists at Influence Networks is a nimble and unique search tool that allows you to create your own college rankings based on the factors that matter most to you including affordability, student body size, location, and more. The Custom College Ranking tool is a powerful alternative to the static rankings and flawed methodologies used by many of the leading names in the college ranking sector. And it provides the user with a unique level of control over the college search process that distinguishes it from the many other ranking services in the higher education space.

  4. There’s a reason this organization has been a key player in college searches since 1900. This informative site has data on over 6,000 educational institutions, and students can use the site to send their SAT scores straight to the college of their choice. College Board’s Big Future feature also lets students create a roadmap of the future they see for themselves by selecting a potential college and a career path.

  5. Not sure where to start when searching for a college? College Insight is the place for you. Instead of being limited to searching by school, students can search a topic that interests them and the site will do the rest. College Insight utilizes students’ search information to create easy-to-use data tables for narrowing down college options based on individual criteria.

  6. Think of Cappex as a dating site, but for colleges. You can take a “fit test” to see if your dream school would be a good match for your needs, and you can add hearts to your college list to mark your favorites. Cappex uses an intuitive interface that resembles a social media site to make students feel comfortable and confident as they research college and scholarship options.

  7. Whether you are looking to pursue an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or join the military, Peterson’s has information on programs suited to your needs. The site’s Discovery Center has information on over 4,000 colleges and universities in over 20 countries.

  8. Like many other sites on this list, Unigo offers school profiles and scholarship information. What sets Unigo apart are the reviews submitted by current and former students. There are over 650,000 college reviews on the site, so prospective students can use this site to search for information about authentic experiences shared by real people.

  9. Long considered an essential resource for studying and textbook rentals, Chegg has now branched out to offer a search feature with over 6,000 colleges and universities. Students can select whether they are looking for a college in a rural or urban area, whether they would like to attend a private or public school, and many more features to generate a list of high-quality options. Chegg also provides the acceptance rates and overall academic quality ratings for each school.

  10. The name may sound like the title of a gossip column (and the site does offer some discussion threads that read like one), but College Confidential also offers a helpful college planning tool. Students can input their school of choice and use the site to estimate their chances of acceptance, build a dream school list, and get advice from real college experts through College Confidential’s library of over 10,000 articles.

  11. While this site has an excellent search feature, the best part about College Raptor is the ability to compare not only colleges, but financial aid offers. Create an individualized college savings plan, find scholarships and loans, and let College Raptor compare the colleges that offer the best financial match based on your data.

The college admissions process can be stressful. We have some important tips on how to manage the stress of the online college application process.

Another great way to look for colleges and universities is to search based on geography. Take advantage of in-state tuition discounts whether you are attending a local college online or in person by starting your search with the best schools in your state.


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