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Making a Choice
A few words about guides ...

There are objective guides and subjective guides. There are special interest guides and there are lists created by specific criteria. Be sure you know the source of the information, what criteria the authors are using to judge colleges and whether there's a profit motive behind what you're reading. All of these factors make a difference in how the information is presented. (Take a look at's favorite guides.)

Usually, if you take the time to read the introduction and the backs of the books, you'll gain some understanding of the source. For example, The ISI Guide to Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth About America's 100 Top Schools has an introduction written by William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education under President Reagan. The back of the book has endorsements by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Medved and John Silber, chancellor of Boston University. All are well known for their conservative politics. Therefore, when you browse through the descriptions of the colleges, understand the filter used in gathering the information - in this case, the authors were looking for schools with conservative values as positive and diverging views as less than positive.

Examples of annual rankings are the popular US News and World Report lists. Rankings always use a formula of criteria the people involved have created in order to judge the colleges. The criteria used by US News and World Report are specific and controversial. Check them out. Are the factors US News uses to select the colleges factors that are important to you or not? Can this help you choose a college?

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