A Glimpse Into The Academic Atmosphere
Reading student reviews and comments from actual students can help you get a sense of the culture of the school. You can also learn about other colleges that may interest you by looking at their ranking pages, news related to the school that isn’t on the schools website, social groups (some schools have Facebook groups which are rich in information or in LinkedIn).
You can find several online resources for student reviews of colleges, but I find that College Prowler (www.collegeprowler.com which now is owned by Niche) is the easiest to read and navigate. College Prowler allows you to scroll through hundreds of students’ comments about what life on campus is really like. Because these student reviews are unfiltered , be prepare to read a lot about things like the dining halls, on-campus parking, and whether girls and guys are looking good. These might not be the most important things to consider when compared to your major and minor priorities list, but it never hurts to hear what real students think about the “quality” of life on campus.
College Confidential (www.collegeconfidential.com) is another popular site that offers student reviews and parents the chance to share their experiences and impressions in an online community and discussions forum. Admissions experts also weigh in to offer accurate information and stop false rumors from spreading. A particularly interesting feature on College Confidential is the “Campus Vibe” section where students and parents can post videos from campus tours. You can learn a lot from other students who are struggling to find the information session on campus or prepping for an on-campus interview.
(An Example of A Generic Student Review Video; PWI vs HBCU)
RateMyProfessors (www.ratemyprofessors.com) is an excellent resource that gives you an idea of the best and worst college professors and the general education structure and quality at the school you are interested in. RateMyProfessors allow student reviews on their professors performance and the ability to add professors that did not make the list. Often times the student reviews leave real helpful information such as the amount of homework that is given to the students, regularity of pop quizzes, whether or not a professor is extra strict on handing in late paper work etc.
To be fair, you shouldn’t base your entire impression of a college on books or websites that offer student reviews. These student reviews can be misleading and faulty because they are not necessarily representative of all students on the campus. Students with more extreme views-both positive and negative-maybe more likely to leave a review on a website fill out form in the student center. Plus, these student reviews are just opinions that you might not always agree with. Some of my favorite books or restaurants have received mixed online reviews. Do not completely eliminate a college that fits all your major and minor priorities list just because you read a couple of negative student reviews. It may still be worth visiting the campus so that you can form an impression with your own eyes.