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10 College Search Websites that You Should Check Out

As a higher education consultant, these college search websites are incredible resources that should definitely be taken advantage of. Websites such as the College Board's BigFuture Tookit, Niche, and the U.S. Department of Education's College Navigator offer tools and data that are invaluable for professionals in this field. BigFuture allows users to filter colleges by location, majors, and other criteria, making it easier to match students with their ideal institutions. Niche provides detailed reviews and rankings based on student feedback, offering insights into campus life and academics. College Navigator, on the other hand, is a rich source of official data on institutions, including financial aid information and graduation rates. These are just some of the resources that you should be using to help your students get into their schools of best fit!


College Board's BigFuture is an invaluable resource that requires no registration and offers a comprehensive and user-friendly platform for you to navigate the college selection process with your students. When dealing with test-optional colleges, BigFuture lets you access insights into the test scores of accepted students. Even if your students aren't required to submit their scores, understanding the range can help you assess their chances of admission. If any of your students end up on a waitlist, BigFuture offers waitlist statistics directly on the college's profile, helping you manage their expectations realistically.


For those students who have taken AP or CLEP exams, BigFuture is a fantastic tool for finding colleges that offer credit or placement for these tests. Since the College Board administers both exams, it makes sense that they'd facilitate this search, helping you identify institutions where your students' AP work will pay off in terms of college credits. Additionally, BigFuture stands out for its ability to help you find colleges offering financial aid for international students. This feature is especially useful if you're assisting students from abroad in their quest to study in the U.S.


College Navigator is backed by the U.S. Department of Education's commitment to providing detailed data on the state of education in the United States, including critical insights into adult education, literacy, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. College Navigator taps into a wealth of official statistics and research to offer a comprehensive view of how well educational institutions are performing.


You have access to data from longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys that offer a deep dive into student progress through school and their transition into the workforce, giving you a clear picture of educational outcomes across the board. The site is also a resource for understanding the effectiveness of various education improvements, supported by rigorous testing of new approaches for boosting education outcomes for all students. With College Navigator, you can leverage the results of large-scale evaluations of federal education programs and policies, including those focusing on teacher preparation, school improvement initiatives, and school choice programs


College Insight is perfect for those who are more scientifically oriented and prefer a data-driven approach to college searches. You begin by selecting a particular college, diving into a topic of interest, or by creating custom tables to compare institutions across a wide range of metrics according to your preferences.


College Insight boasts an extensive database that covers economic and racial diversity of student bodies, along with detailed statistics on debt and financial aid. This wealth of information allows for a granular comparison of colleges, offering a side-by-side view in a straightforward table format. You can pick a "focus" school for detailed analysis and then select one or more "comparison" schools to see how they stack up against each other based on solid, objective data.


While the site's comprehensive data might be daunting for those less inclined towards statistical analysis, it's an invaluable resource for those of you seeking to compare school stats without having to create an account. College Insight offers insights into college affordability, student debt, as well as the economic and racial diversity of campuses. It provides detailed profiles and research-level data for over 13,000 U.S. colleges and universities, encompassing over 400 variables for academic years dating back to 2000-01, sourced from various data collections.


Niche is an exceptionally user-friendly and versatile college search website that stands out for its comprehensive filters that allow you to tailor the college search process to fit your clients' unique needs and aspirations. Whether you're looking for colleges with Direct Admissions, aiming to engage with a fun College Quiz, or focusing on institutions recognized for Best Value, Best Student Life, or even Top Party Schools, Niche has got you covered.


Beyond these initial categories, Niche delves deeper, offering filters for Best Colleges overall, Best Academics, Best Professors, and those Hardest to Get Into, alongside specific Best Programs in fields ranging from Accounting/Finance to Communications, Biology, and much more. This level of detail extends to student life as well, with rankings on the Most Diverse, Most Liberal, and Most Conservative campuses, not to mention insights into the Social Scene, Greek Life, and Top Party Schools.


For those concerned with campus facilities, Niche provides rankings on the Best Campuses, College Dorms, College Food, and even Best Locations and Safest Campuses. Athletics is another area where Niche shines, offering insights into College Athletics and the best institutions for Student Athletes.


Appily, formerly known as Cappex, is a standout tool that can significantly streamline your process of helping students find their perfect college match. This site makes it easy for you to compare schools, calculate admission chances, financial aid, and understand if a school aligns well with a student's preferences. By creating a profile, Appily tailors its recommendations based on what matters most to your clients, incorporating student reviews to add personal insights to the hard data.


Moreover, Appily doesn't just stop at helping students find their ideal colleges; it guides them all the way through to the application process. Each favorite school on a student's list comes with a direct link to the institution's website, facilitating the application process. Beyond college search, Appily offers features for planning campus visits, taking virtual tours, and searching for scholarships.


With over 3 million students registered annually, access to profiles of more than 4,000 colleges, and information on scholarships worth $44 million, Appily is a powerful resource that can save you and your clients approximately 26 hours of research and decision-making time. 


College Confidential is a great resource with over 22 million forum posts spanning thousands of topics. You can dive into 3,800+ in-depth profiles of colleges and universities to uncover admission stats and valuable insights on student life, academics, and costs.


College Confidential also boasts over 10,000 articles filled with admissions tips, insider advice on searching for schools, and support for college essays and test prep. A unique feature, "Chance Me and Match Me," enables you to connect with real people for personalized insights on college chances and application strategies, enhancing the advisory services you provide.


The community aspect is a standout, offering free essay help to transform good essays into great ones with feedback from experienced readers. Furthermore, the site tackles the crucial topic of financing education, providing information on saving, financial aid, and budgeting. The platform's preference system allows for detailed customization in over 20 categories, including location and majors, helping match your clients with schools that best fit their needs and aspirations, out of a database of over 4,500 schools, including international options.


Unigo offers access to over 3.6 million scholarships and grants, combined with 650k college reviews, stats, and more, to help students finance their education. The website boasts a modern design and features a plethora of reviews in both written and video formats, providing real student perspectives on various aspects of campus life. Schools are rated on a scale of 1-10 across different factors, including campus safety, political activity, arts culture, Greek life, and intellectual life.


Each college profile on Unigo is detailed, including financial aid and admissions statistics, a built-in map of the surrounding area, and statistics on student life like the number of campus organizations and Greek houses. You'll find it easy to make a list of schools and compare them across different metrics, such as tuition and selectivity, aiding in a more informed decision-making process. The Unigo College Match allows you to match your students to the right schools based on a Return on Education score and other crucial factors like personality fit, academics, and geography


Fastweb is a resource you'll want to recommend for students navigating college financing. Primarily focused on scholarship searches, Fastweb also offers tools to help students find colleges that align with their interests and needs. Setting up an account is free and allows users to locate colleges and scholarships tailored to their specific criteria. The site also has a number of blog articles offering advice on scholarships and college planning, making it a comprehensive resource for your students.


Upon creating a profile, students are matched instantly with scholarships that fit their unique strengths, interests, and skills. Fastweb continually updates scholarship matches, increasing the chances of finding funding opportunities. By filtering through the list and applying for scholarships, students can secure financial support for their college education. 


College Results (CR) is unique in its comprehensive aggregation of publicly available data, providing a one-stop shop for key information on a wide range of colleges and universities. There are detailed insights into graduation rates over different periods, as well as breakdowns by race/ethnicity and gender.


Moreover, CR's peer group functionality distinguishes it from other college search websites. By constructing peer groups of similar colleges, it offers a meaningful context for comparing graduation rates, allowing users to see how a selected institution stacks up against comparable ones serving similar student demographics. This feature is invaluable for making informed decisions, whether you're advising students and families, conducting policy research, or helping institutions benchmark their performance.


CollegeData is a free-to-use college search tool and scholarship database, courtesy of 1st Financial Bank, that can significantly enhance your advisory services. You can create a profile for your clients and build a list of potential colleges based on selected criteria, including student body size, type of institution (private or public), selectivity, graduation rate, availability of merit aid, and sports programs. Once an account is created, you gain access to additional tools, such as a financial aid comparison feature that simplifies the process of comparing financial aid offers from various schools.


A standout feature of CollegeData is its financial aid tracker. This tool provides a detailed look at the financial aid packages different colleges have awarded in the past, breaking down how much was need-based versus merit-based. This feature, along with the ability to search and compare over 2,000 colleges by name or personal preferences—such as location, size, cost, acceptance rate, majors, and more—makes CollegeData an invaluable resource.



If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at contact@lumiere.education to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!


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