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Princeton Review's The Best 376 Colleges, 2012 Edition

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The Best 376 Colleges

The Best 376 Colleges

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The Bottom Line

The Best 376 Colleges is definitely a useful book for prospective college students as long as they realize that many great schools aren't included, and that some of the student quotations in the book distort reality on occasion. That said, the book does a good job trying to capture the personalities of 376 well-regarded colleges and universities.
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  • 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

Princeton Review's The Best 376 Colleges, 2012 Edition is one of the more popular college guidebooks on the market. As the title states, the book covers 376 colleges. It uses a mix of subjective survey information from 122,000 students as well as objective information on costs, financial aid and admissions criteria. The result is a book that gives prospective applicants the important data they need for determining what schools are a match, reach or safety, as well as input from matriculated students to help capture a school's true personality.

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.

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