Undergraduate Information Sources That are Not Websites

of one

Undergraduate Information Sources That are Not Websites

Five top information sources for prospective students and parents when learning about undergraduate colleges are highly recommended books, social media, college newspapers, alumni/current students, and campus tours.


  • GreatSchools published a list in 2018 of the top five books for college admission information. We are including this as a "top" information source because GreatSchools is a reputable site with expertise in the field of education. According to their website, they are "the leading national nonprofit empowering parents to unlock educational opportunities for their children. We provide school information and parenting resources to help millions of American families choose the right school, support learning at home, and guide their children to great futures."
  • "Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting into College" was written by three academic experts, one of which is a former college admissions advisor.
  • "The Best 381 Colleges, 2017 Edition: Everything You Need to Make the Right College Choice" provides entertaining profiles and is a fun read. There is now a 2018 version out as well.
  • "Colleges that Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges" focuses on schools that are known for fostering personal growth in students.
  • "Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania" discusses why students have more options than they think for school.
  • "Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016" is a best-seller with information on the personalities of over 300 colleges, as well as tips from students. A 2020 version of the guide is also available.


  • According to The College Board, social media (slide 2) is a great way to learn about colleges. We are including this as a "top" information source because The College Board is a not-for-profit organization that helps students gain admission to college. The organization is in charge of college admissions tests such as the SAT and ACT.
  • Social media feeds can be a great way to learn about life on campus. University of Michigan Instagram, Duke University Facebook, and Harvard Twitter are just three examples of universities doing a great job on social media.


  • According to The College Board, reading college newspapers (slide 9) can provide great insight into the activities and important events on campus. You can also see the "level of student thinking and writing on campus."
  • It is likely that what is included in college newspapers will provide a window into what is important to the college community as a whole.
  • We are including this as a "top" information for the same reasons described for The College Board above.
  • Some examples of the top college newspapers can be found in this article from BestColleges.


  • Again recommended by The College Board, current and former students (slide 10) are one of the best resources for learning about colleges. This strategy was also recommended by College Explorer.
  • Prospective students can find contact information for alumni using online resources and then contact them by email asking for feedback. Additionally, some colleges even offer online chat rooms where current, past, and potential students can mingle.


  • Campus Explorer recommends campus visits as one of the top ways to learn about a school. We are including this as a "top" information source because in addition to being recommended by Campus Explorer, The College Board also recommended several options that required a campus visit, such as visiting an academic department (slide 4), visiting the library (slide 7), and exploring dining options (slide 8). Finally, a study published in Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly in January 2018 found that college visits were the most important part of the college recruitment process.
  • Campus visits give prospective students the opportunity to talk with both college officials and students. Getting these multiple perspectives is invaluable.
  • College Raptor gives several tips to make the most of a campus visit including spending the night, eating in the cafeteria, explore the community, talk to students, sit in on a class, check out campus bulletin boards, and take notes/photos.