SURVEY: Help Us Build a Better College Search Tool

We want to hear from you! What resources, information, and tools are most helpful for researching schools and building your college list? Your input is key to help us create a better way to find and keep track of colleges. Please take this quick survey–and feel free to share the link with other students, parents, and counselors!

Take the survey here: Help us build a better way to search for colleges.

Instead of trying to “build a better college search tool” why doesn’t CC just hire @AustenNut to keep giving excellent suggestions?


Resources not listed in “Have you used any of the following resources when researching colleges? (Check all that apply)” that are likely to be useful are:

College Navigator: College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics

College Scorecard:

Major accreditation listings such as:


I wanted to find out how you calculate college acceptance rates? You are showing that Cal Poly Slo accepted 18,008 students in 2022 but they only accepted 6,200 out of around 65,000 applicants. The school in total only has around 21,000 kids so there is no way they accepted 18000 new students. Thank you for any insight.

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CPSLO’s common data set at , section C1 says the following for entering 2022 frosh admission:

  • 58,944 applied
  • 17,885 admitted / accepted
  • 5,111 enrolled / matriculated

Avoid confusing admitted / accepted with enrolled / matriculated.

Admission rate was 17,885 / 58,944 = 30.3%. However, since CPSLO admits by major, different majors could have different admission rates, and different strengths of applicant and admit pools.

Yield rate was 5,111 / 17,885 = 28.6%. Again, there could be variation by major. In addition, yield rates are generally lower at the higher end (in college admission credentials) part of the admit pool than in the “barely admitted” part of the admit pool.


How about common fit variables like Location (region); Environment (rural, urban, suburban); and School Size (<3000, 3000-10000, 10000+)?


@fiftyfifty1 is very kind, but I am just a random person who likes researching, and don’t have some of the very specific knowledgeable expertise that some others (like @aquapt) have about an array of particular programs at schools.

I will note part of my researching techniques, though, which might help in the development of a better college search tool.

I usually start with College Navigator (linked by @ucbalumnus in post 3). That can help in finding schools by: size, major, location, admissions rate, etc.

One of the time-consuming parts of looking in College Navigator at the majors is looking to see the number of students in a major, because this can denote relative strength in a department (either by percentage or number of students) as well as whether there would be sufficient coursework in the major (or whether there are so few students in the major that the major could be at risk of being eliminated or having slim offerings). This is one of the ways that some of the under-the-radar schools I mention pop up in my suggestions.

As probably an even better indicator of the strength of the department is looking at the institutions that produce students who go on to earn doctorates (Baccalaureate origins of doctoral recipients). If a student is producing a fair percentage of students who earn doctorates, then the strength of the department is probably adequate or good (or better). This is another way of finding “hidden gems.”

So I’d love a tool that would cross-reference the availability of the major along with aspects to take a guess at the strength of the major (described above).

If this could then be combined with percentage of students in Greek life (Greek Life Participation on College Campuses), as well a tool looking at class sizes (for instance, if a person is okay with whatever percentage of classes of more than 50, or 10%, or 2%, or 0%, etc). If the tool could at least provide the percentages on class sizes for informational purposes, that’d be great, but being able to narrow down the number of options by classes under 20 (or 30, etc) or over 50 would be fabulous. (For partial inspiration: Class Size and Student-to-Faculty-Ratio – College Transitions, but more robust for the utopian search tool.)

The accreditation sites are very important as well, especially for engineering, architecture, etc. Having a way to select an engineering major and then also select ABET-accredited for that major would be super. (Perhaps listing ABET-accredited Chemical Engineering as a choice vs. Chemical Engineering, the latter of which would pull anything in IPEDS as offering the major, or NAAB-accredited architecture, etc.)

Added to that would be great to have a function that would indicate whether a school offers merit aid or not, and pulling from the data what percentage of students receive merit aid and the average amount of merit aid received (similar to this Merit Aid by Institution – College Transitions). Combining all of this into a potentially average post-merit aid calculator would be awesome. For instance, a person would enter their budget (say, $45k). If a school’s merit aid tables or average merit aid would get the price down to the budget, then the school would pop up. Alternatively, if there was a thing about what a school’s maximum merit aid possible is, so that students could know whether a school could ever meet budget based purely on merit aid.

Also, there would be a caveat or special language about how at most colleges, the listed fees are sticker prices, and that students/families should run NPCs and that for non-elite schools, that even non-exemplary students can receive merit aid. That way, it can help break down part of the asymmetrical imbalance of information between families and colleges.


Amen!! So helpful!! AustenNut is so generous and helpful!!

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When researching and building a college list, valuable resources include college websites, search engines, guidebooks, virtual campus tours, forums, admission events, guidance counselors, blogs, and podcasts. These sources provide information on academics, admission requirements, campus life, and student experiences. It’s important to consider multiple factors, such as location, majors, size, cost, and personal preferences, to create a well-rounded college list.

Without my glasses, I read “wire” instead of “hire”.

So, as a closet trekkie, I had this picture flash in front of my mind of @AustenNut all wired up, deep inside the CC “Cube”, just like the Borg queen, pushing out college search information directly into Cyberspace, directing actions of students lightyears away. :wink:


These are the recommendations of @AustenNut; resistance is futile!

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I’m not a Trekkie so I heard that in a Dalek’s voice… Resistance is futile.

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Can you look back to the old college search tool CC had (circa 2015)? I found that to be a useful tool.