Audience: Students, educators, parents
Focus: Detailed college and university profiles
Big Picture: This may be one of the best college search sites out there. More than 4,000 comprehensive school profiles are listed, each laid out in a simple, clean, and elegant format. The fairly generic homepage is not cluttered with anything to distract from its powerful search engine—select a few criteria and immediately get a list of colleges with information like school costs, financial aid stats, a location map, average earnings after college, and more. The site also provides a few ready-made lists of colleges to choose from (think two-year colleges with highest earnings after graduation), as well as some financial aid links and info.
Big Challenge Solved: One of the best ways to compare colleges is by using averages, and College Scorecard excels in providing them—each listing contains things like average cost, graduation rate, and career earnings, packaged as easy-to-read infographics.
Must-Use: Scroll down to Check Out These Schools to find four searches already completed for you—clicking on any of them takes you to a list of colleges hosted on the Department of Education’s blog page, which is worth exploring in and of itself.
Most Unique Tool: If you’re interested in statistics or data research, or are just curious how the site gathered so much information, the College Scorecard Data section gives you access to all its raw data and the methodology behind collecting it.
Best Middle-School Student Tool: Clicking on one of the Check Out These Schools lists will take users to the Department of Education’s blog—here, students can type “middle school” into the search field for a list of articles that pertain to their unique college-prep needs.
Best High-School Student Tool: The Types of Financial Aid link kicks users out to the Federal Student Aid website for either a quick or in-depth look at government aid prospects—and the “Types of Federal Student Aid” video is brief, essential viewing.
Protip: Decide what are the most important things you want to know about any college before coming to the site—since there’s no way to save your searches, you’ll want to use pen and paper (or screen capture) to make notes for later reference.