Navigating the college application process can feel overwhelming, with a seemingly endless checklist of things to do. It’s also easy to get lost in information overload. A quick google search can lead to thousands of results and so much advice that you feel just as confused as you did when you started.
To make things easier, I’ve scoured the internet to narrow down five of the best websites (outside of College Ninja, of course, haha! 😉 to help you save money, make decisions, and get into your dream school.
College is a HUGE investment of both time and money. Before you invest in anything, especially something so significant, it’s essential to know details and insightful statistics to figure out if the investment is right for you. College Navigator is a vast federal database that includes a multitude of statistics on individual colleges and universities.
While the layout isn’t beautiful, it is very user-friendly, and the information is top-notch. You can search for schools by geographic location, public versus private, tuition & fees, SAT scores, and other key factors. Once you’ve clicked on a school, you can find basic information alongside more in-depth information, like it’s like retention and graduation rates, outcome measures, and demographics.
A particularly helpful statistic is the “net price” numbers for each school. Net Price is the estimated amount of money that families will actually pay at a school based on their income. For example, the average net price for a family with an income between $75,000 and $110,000 at Vanderbilt University is $15,085, versus the net price with same income at the University of Tennessee is $25,164. That is surprising to most people given that the sticker price of Vanderbilt is over $70,000, while the University of Tennessee in-state price is much less expensive, at $31,500. Families with an income of around $100K might assume Vanderbilt is too expensive, only to realize it may be cheaper for them than their local state school.
2. Big Future
The College Board’s Bright Future platform is an excellent one-stop-shop with many powerful tools for everything from your college search to finding scholarships to picking a major. Their college search tool operates like a matchmaking service with many filters to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in a school. You can then save your chosen schools to your account.
Their scholarship search is also straightforward and robust, providing nearly 6 billion dollars in listings. There is even a career and college major search to help you decide on the right path. This website is very comprehensive and a great place to start narrowing down your direction.
Khan Academy offers comprehensive SAT prep for free! They’ve partnered with The College Board to give students tailored test-prep based on a diagnostic exam or your previous SAT or PSAT scores. The site provides eight full-length practice tests, thousands of practice questions, videos, lessons, and test-taking strategies. This nonprofit delivers incredible value to students.
Cappex is another comprehensive college search website. It boasts having every college and scholarship listed on its site, with over 11 billion dollars in scholarships and 3000+ college profiles. It also has unique tools like the “What Are My Chances?” and “Fit Score” tools to better help you chose the right college for you. They have a strong track record, claiming to have helped over 11 million students navigate college admissions.
5. Common App
You’ve probably already heard about the Common App through your school counselor, but when talking about college admissions, it must be mentioned. The Common App is a platform that allows you to apply for multiple colleges using one application. Over 800 colleges accept the form, and more than 1 million students use the site annually. It can save you a significant amount of time by eliminating the need to repeat standard details in multiple applications.
Unigo is another comprehensive college admission website, providing college and scholarship search functions. A unique draw of this website is that they also offer over 650k college reviews, giving students unadorned insights into schools they may not find on other platforms. One challenge is that less well-known schools don’t have nearly as many reviews as more popular schools, making it less useful for students seeking smaller schools. With its robust scholarship search tool and unique student perspectives, it is worth a look for most students!
Niche is another powerful and comprehensive ranking and review site. It contains helpful lists that go beyond prestige. In addition to their Best Colleges ranking, their lists include Best by Major, Best by State, Best Value, Best Community College, Hardest to Get Into, among others. Once you click on a school, you can see it’s “grade” in several areas including their academics, diversity, athletics, value, campus, and party scene. You’ll also see comprehensive statistics and reviews written by users, and you can add colleges you like to a list in your account.
8. You Visit
Visiting college campuses in-person, while necessary, can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s typically smart to reserve your visits for colleges you’ve already narrowed down and are actively considering, especially if they’re far away. That’s where YouVisit can come in handy. It is a website that offers virtual campus tours, many led by students from the school. You can go on multiple campus tours from the comfort of your living room. They even offer virtual reality tours. With over 600 colleges tours available, all for free, this site provides a great way to get a solid feel for a campus before visiting in-person.
We’ll always try to guide you in the right direction, and part of that is providing you with the best tools to get you ahead in the process. We hope you’ll use these sites to decrease stress and increase success as you navigate college admissions.