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Spreadsheet to compare schools?

CinderellieCinderellie Registered User Posts: 29 New Member
Have any of you developed a spreadsheet to compare schools and their programs? What types of headers did you use? What was important for you to include?

Son is a rising B-average junior interested in Education (who likes sports -- soccer, lacrosse, but not good enough for college ball), so we have lots of options, but I was curious as to what others of you are using to evaluate schools and programs.

Here were my starting headers:
location - rural, suburbs, urban
student # (big or small school)
% who get in (from CollegeBoard.com)
SAT range

What else would you suggest?

Post edited by Cinderellie on

Replies to: Spreadsheet to compare schools?

  • saint_paulsaint_paul Registered User Posts: 469 Member
    Our school printed out a neat little spreadsheet to use for comparing schools. Here's the categories:

    1. Academic program and atmosphere
    2. Student-faculty ratio
    3. Access to professors outside of class
    4. Faculty teaching reputation
    5. Opportunities for independent study
    6. Opportunities for international study
    7. Opportunities for internships
    8. Academic counseling
    9. Campus layout
    10. Academic facilities (classrooms, labs, and prc rooms)
    11. Availability of computers/interest
    12. Library, or research areas
    13. Cultural facilities (concert halls, theatres, etc.)
    14. Opportunities for visiting lecturers
    15. Opportunities for artists and performers
    16. Personal counseling availability
    17. Recreational facilities (pools, gyms, tracks)
    18. Student health facilities
    19. Location of campus and surrounding area
    20. Size of student population
    21. Part-time work availability
    22. Clubs, sports, and campus activities
    23. Housing availability and options
    24. Social life/entertainment
    25. Food

    Obviously a lot of these might not be that important, so I'd also include:

    26. Tuition and misc. costs
    27. College's reputation (historically female/black/so on)
    28. Political influence (ultra liberal, ultra conservative)
    29. Financial aid availability
    30. Campus safety
    31. Geographic location (climate, long distance)
    32. Standardized test averages, typical student profile
    34. Retention rate
    35. Rankings and list (both official and unofficial) for academics, social life, so on
    39. Religious affiliation

    I think that covers most of the basics. Good luck!
  • JyankeesSS2JyankeesSS2 Registered User Posts: 2,021 Senior Member
    Where would you find all of that information...like accessibility to profs outside class, opportunities for artists/performers etc.
  • lil_killer129lil_killer129 Registered User Posts: 4,706 Senior Member
    their [college] website?
  • larationalistlarationalist Registered User Posts: 916 Member
    anytime you rely on their website, you end up getting the same super-positive answer from all of them.

    Mine is much simpler- location, cost, degree offered, admissions requirements, and a two general columns where I list whatever positives and negatives I'm aware of. Of course, mine is a list of grad schools, so it's already been pared down considerably from what most undergrads would have.
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
    distance from home (use mapquest)
    US News rank
    peer assessment score
    student-faculty ratio
    SAT 75th percentile
    percent in top 10% of class
    percent of classes under 50
    graduation rate
    Gourman rank of your major if available
    US News rank of your major if available
    professors accessible rating from Princeton Review
    professors interesting rating from Princeton Review
    urban-suburban-small town-rural (assign numerical score)
    avarage amount of institutional grant divided by cost of attendance (IPEDS)
    personal appeal score ("feel", "intangibles")
    quality of life rating from Princeton Review
    academics rating from Princeton Review
    size of school
    region of country
    LAC or University
    proportion of undergraduates

    You can assign weights to these scores based on their importance to you and calculate a single index score for your own personal subjective rating system. Be sure to take into account the size of the number and "direction" of the scoring with pluses and minuses for the weights. For example, "distance from home" might be weighted minus point two. Or, perhaps there is an optimal distance from home, like 100 miles. You might have to play around with the weights until it starts to make sense.

    If a particular factor has an optimal level for you, you can weight the factor by how far it is from optimal. Say an SAT 75th percentile of 1300 is optimal for you. Then you could give 1300 the highest weight and decrease the weight in proportion to difference from 1300.

    It is an interesting and fun exercise. It can be done in Excel with formulas.
  • Mary.loves.youMary.loves.you Registered User Posts: 497 Member
    collegehelp, that's exactly what I did.
    I like Excel formulas... very useful. =]
  • JyankeesSS2JyankeesSS2 Registered User Posts: 2,021 Senior Member
    How do you do excel formulas exactly? Is there a simple way?
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
    you type in the cell where you want the calculation to go, using the cell designations from the spreadsheet

    example: the data for aardvark college is in row 4
    column C through N are for the various factors e.g. column C might have average SAT, column d might have distance from home, and so on

    You type in the cell where you want the final score to go say row 4 column P

    Your personal, subjective rating will print in that cell. Then you can sort the entire spreadsheet by any of the data columns to see how the schools rank. Be sure to highlight the entire spreadsheet before you sort.

    You can copy and paste the formulas to the cells below for each college so you only have to type the formula once. Excel automatically changes the row designations for you. It's fun.
  • JyankeesSS2JyankeesSS2 Registered User Posts: 2,021 Senior Member
    hey, thanks I got it now
  • ReninDetroitReninDetroit Registered User Posts: 1,093 Senior Member
    I got sick of using 'feelings' to evaluate colleges (it wasn't working for me), so I created a more objective spreadsheet and it helped a lot.

    My categories were based on what I wanted in a college. I used:

    -Availability and quality of theatre program (major, minor and EC involvement) - 15 points
    -Availability and quality of public policy program - 10 points
    -Availability and quality of interdisciplinary humanities study - 10 points
    -Location (10 points)
    -Housing (10 points)
    -Dining and availability of vegetarian/vegan fare (5 points)
    -Academic reputation/perceived quality of education (5 points)
    -Bonus (up to 5 points; in here I gave Brown 5 extra because the campus felt so perfect, and I gave W&M 5 extra points because it would be free for me).

    The top 5, based on this, were Brown, W&M, Bowdoin, Emory, and University of Chicago.
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
    In post #9 above, the weights should do several things:
    (1) they should reflect the importance you place on that factor
    (2) they should adjust the direction of the factor by using plus or minus. For example, say distance from home is a negative for you. You want to be close to home. In this case, you would assign a negative weight (minus) so the higher the mileage the lower the score.
    (3) they should adjust the number to a scale that is comparable to other factors. For example, say student teacher ratio is 20 to 1 and SAT 75th percentile is 2000. You can start out with a weight of 10 for student faculty ratio and a weight of .1 (point one) for SAT.
    20 times 10 = 200
    2000 times .1 = 200
    Now they are on a comparable scale to begin with. Next step is to adjust for the direction. A high number for student faculty ratio is a bad thing so you assign a negative weight (-10). High SAT is a good thing so you assign a positive weight (+.1). Finally, decide how important the factor is to you. Say that SAT is five times as important as student faculty ratio. So, you increase the weight for SAT by a factor of 5 (+.5).

    This piece of your formula would therefore be
    "(s/f ratio times -10) plus (SAT 75th percentile times .5)"

    You might have to go through some trial and error until it starts making sense.
  • JyankeesSS2JyankeesSS2 Registered User Posts: 2,021 Senior Member
    Is there any way to copy/paste these into the cells so that I don't have to change them every time. It gets somewhat annoying going through 20 of the little formulas just to change the number to the current row, is there an easier way?
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
    highlight the cell with the formula, then click copy, then highlight the column of cells to which you want to copy that formula, then click enter

    excel will will automatically adjust the formula for each row
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