Finding colleges that aren't the typical BS counselor recommendation

I do too, that is the problem. But that doesn’t mean it has to be an hour’s drive. From here, there is a big difference between flying to FL and flying to CA. We are just starting the process and without a “career focus” it’s been quite challenging to narrow it down.

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What kinds of schools are you thinking of? Arts & Science? Business? Engineering? Education? Health Sciences? Nursing? Big? Small? Urban? Rural?

You mentioned that he’d like to play hoops. Div I? D II? D III?

Preference for geography? If not East Coast, then where?

State school? Private?


In my son’s class of 150, the kids went to 123 (or something like that) different schools, so I don’t think they were all being directed to the same places. With that said, there were a few schools that attracted a ton of interest. All were urban and bigger, so I think anonymity was feeling very attractive after BS life!

Check out the book, Colleges that Change Lives: 40 schools that will change the way you think about colleges, by Loren Pope. It discusses some great hidden gems, separated by region.


I kinda like this source-

They have a book, too, that profiles many schools, but you can get lots of “best of” lists to get you started. I like them because they approach it from a return on investment angle - so slightly different than USNWR. They also don’t rank, so much as list.

If you are interested in a particular geographical area or state, niche does rankings that way. Also by major and many other ways to sort. As always, take rankings with a grain of salt.

If you want to chase merit scholarships, there is a fantastic thread on the big board from a parent (username Kevin something) whose daughter attended a bs, but he didn’t think the counselors there could give him the help he needed to find affordable schools.

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Also, try Selingo who wrote who gets in and why. He talks about “buyers” and “sellers”.

On average, sellers admit less than 20% of applicants, while colleges as a whole admit two-thirds. When sellers make an offer, nearly 45% of students accept, compared with a quarter for buyers. And only 7% of the financial aid sellers give out to students is a merit-based discount, compared with nearly one-third of aid at buyers.

He’s got a free download here to sort by his criteria:

buyers sellers


In an ideal reality, yes. The many responses in this thread may help you feel otherwise, or at least understand better why this is not the case for some. It certainly helped me understand (including the reality that I have the privilege of being able to approach college location for my kids without geographic limit).

It’s perfectly obvious why some consider location, @DroidsLookingFor, and not always for financial reasons. :wink:


Why should location be irrelevant? It is a big part of the college experience. Some kids want to stay close to home, some want to go far away. Some want to be in a big city, some like beautiful campus in the middle of nowhere. Some want winter, so don’t. It is a very easy way to narrow down the list if you have location preferences. And size of the school preferences.

Also IME few kids are looking for very specific academic programs that can only be found at a few places. Many still have no idea, or will change their major once or twice while there. A large chunk already plans on grad school. I think location (all aspects of it) as well as the social scene/environment can make a big difference in your college experience and ought to be considered.


I think we are agreeing — what I meant is that college selection should not be limited by location as the “perfect” college may not be in your backyard, so we took location for (both BS and) college off the criteria list. We would have flown or driven to the ends of the earth for either. (And a huge thank you to those local parents who stood in the gap for us when it wasn’t feasible for our son to travel across the country to be home over every break.)


May I make a suggestion :golf:

Location, Location, Location?

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Probably this thread:

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Here are some suggestions - places we have been, places I have played.

  • Lewis & Clark College
  • University of Washington
  • Davidson College
  • Rhodes College
  • Boise State
  • St Olaf College
  • Carleton College
  • Reed College
  • Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff)
  • Trinity University - San Antonio, TX
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of British Columbia
  • SCAD (if you want to study art, design, restoration)
  • College of Charleston
  • University of The South
  • Oxford College of Emory University
  • Rollins College

Ann Arbor is truly a fantastic college town (#1 in my book, #2 on the list). Our years there were magical, and I would give my left arm to do it all over again.

Go Blue!

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Nice to see the UMich course move up a bit in the rankings. Walked a lot of rounds there.

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DS knew what he wanted to study, what locations he was agreeable to live in, size of college he would be comfortable at and what type of social life emphasis he’d be comfortable with. He both went through Fiske’s guide and either SCOIR or KickStart (or both) and plugged these factors in. It gave him plenty of options. Then, he did the research for each school individually.

He applied to 8 schools. No Ivies. He even said last night (after learning that several kids with lesser stats got in to several) that he just didn’t want to be in an Ivy-type school. Several of the schools he applied to were “outliers” to the school’s normal list.

There are several “college finder” sites on the internet. They also have “if you’re interested in this school…”suggestions. Plus, the CC can work with a preliminary list and make even more suggestions or give feedback with the BS’s track record with the schools on the prelim list. It worked for us.


Just throwing this out there… Roanoke College in Salem VA… it is a small private LAC, very similar in feel to our BS. DS declined it the first time around, despite a VERY generous merit offer. Now, looking to transfer from his larger, very impersonal, very disappointing state school, Roanoke has offered him SIGNIFICANT merit aid, again, this time for a college GPA that was not stellar… I continue to be amazed at how they can afford to do it. But it is worth a look for a certain type of student looking for very generous merit aid, and a 2000 student, small college town feel.