The Bottom Line
- College rankings for a wide range of categories
- Subjective and objective data on colleges
- Lots of fun quotes from college students
- Useful details about admissions criteria and costs
- Student quotations sometimes reinforce school stereotypes
- Inclusion and rankings can be manipulated by college response efforts
- $22.99 may be a stretch for some applicants
- Publisher: Random House, Inc.
- 864 Pages
- 373 Colleges Included
- Rankings Based on 122,000 Student Ratings
- Top Picks for 15 Popular Undergraduate Majors
- Top 20 Lists for 62 Categories
- Financial Aid Ratings and List of Best Value Schools
- $22.99 but often discounted (click the "Compare Prices" button)
Guide Review - Princeton Review's The Best 376 Colleges, 2012 Edition
The large book contains many features that prospective students may find valuable: top picks for popular undergraduate majors; rankings for 62 categories related to academics and student life; quotations from enrolled students for each of the 376 schools; and numerical data related to admissions criteria and financial aid.
All in all, I'm a fan of The Best 376 Colleges, but students should recognize the limitations of this book (and any guidebook for that matter). The beauty of the book is also a potential problem--student feedback is obviously subjective, so it can both capture the personality of a school as well as distort reality. The choice of quotations can sometimes reinforce the stereotypes surrounding a college. Also, 376 may seem like a lot of colleges, but it is just a small fraction of the many excellent institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Still, I always enjoy the top 20 lists. Categories cover a spectrum of topics: best and worst professors, most conservative and liberal politics, most and least alcohol consumption, most and least beautiful campus, and so on. The subjective data truly is important when choosing a school, and The Best 376 Colleges is certainly a useful book to have access to when developing a short list of schools.