- Paperback: 828 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc; 33 edition (1 July 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402260679
- ISBN-13: 978-1402260674
- Product Dimensions: 21 x 4.4 x 26.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,37,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fiske Guide to Colleges 2017 Paperback – 1 Jul 2016
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About the Author
Edward B. Fiske is the founder and editor of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. A former Education Editor of the New York Times, Fiske is known around the world for his award-winning writing on topics ranging from trends in American higher education to school reform in Southeast Asia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The guide was established in 1982 when, covering higher education for the Times, Fiske sensed the need for a publication that would help students and parents navigate the increasingly complex college admissions scene. The guide, an annual publication, immediately became a standard part of college admissions literature and it is now the country's best-selling college guide.
Fiske has teamed up with his wife, Helen F. Ladd, a professor at Duke University, on several major international research projects regarding the development of education in various countries. Together, they are co-editors of the Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy, the official handbook of the American Education Finance Association. Fiske's journalistic travels have taken him to more than 60 countries on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, UNESCO and the Asia Society.
Born in Philadelphia, Fiske graduated from Wesleyan University summa cum laude, and received master's degrees in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary and in political science from Columbia University. He is a regular contributor to the International Herald-Tribune. In addition to the New York Times, his articles and book reviews have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Los Angeles Times, and other national publications.
A resident of Durham, North Carolina, Fiske serves on a number of boards of non-profit organizations working for access to college and international understanding. He is also a founding member of the board of the Central Park School for Children, a charter school in Durham.
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According to the introduction, these colleges were selected on the basis of academic quality, geographic diversity, a balance of public and private schools, and schools that are currently popular for certain programs (engineering and technical schools, religious emphasis, etc.). Being from Ohio, I look at the list of 13 schools that "made the cut" and inexplicably Xavier University (a very fine Jesuit college here in Cincinnati) is left out of the book (but Xavier of Louisiana somehow did make the cut). Huh? While the descriptions give a good flavor of a particular college, there are essentials missing, such as the exact tuition/room/board (there is only a general 1 to 4 star rating on how expensive a college is, and even those are misleading, for example American University (the school of my youngest) is listed merely as "moderately" expensive for a private school (defined as "$41-46K for tuition"), way, way off the mark! For the record, AU full-time undergrad tuition is $49K for 2017-18 and add another $14-16K for room/board and other miscellaneous fees. Also not helpful in my opinion is that the colleges are presented alphabetically, rather than by state, since most kids look at colleges in a particular state (usually their home state), although there is an index by state.
On the other hand, the descriptions of the schools are oftentimes right on point. Check the first sentence on American University (the college of my youngest): "If the odds to enter Georgetown are against you and you can't see yourself on GW's highly urban campus, welcome to American University." That is EXACTLY what happened to my daughter: not admitted to Georgetown, admitted to GW and AU, but turned off by GW's urban campus and instead charmed by American's idyllic campus, hence AU. The descriptions of the school my son attended here in Ohio are also on point.
When my daughter was simply looking to get basic information, she did not spend a lot of time with this book. As she narrowed her choices, she did read up more on her pool of colleges in this book. Bottom line: if you are at the very beginning of your college search, this is not the book to start with. For that I might instead suggest "The Complete Book of Colleges" issued by the Princeton Review, "College Handbook" issued by CollegeBoard, or "Barron's Profiles of American Colleges". On the other hand, The "Fisk Guide to Colleges" (which really should be titled "Fiske Guide to Select Colleges" or something like that) is instead more appropriate/helpful to get a second (or third) opinion once your child has narrowed down his/her selection of colleges of interest (assuming of course it made the Fiske cut of 300).
I've been using the Fiske guide to Colleges with my students for over 10 years now. Although it's not my favorite college guide (that honor goes to Princeton Review's College Guide The Best 380 Colleges, 2016 Edition (College Admissions Guides)), the Fiske guide is still helpful and worth checking out for its unique perspectives.
However, be forewarned that the Fiske guide is not exactly an unbiased, realistic source of information. If you're looking for honest criticism of colleges as well as glowing praise, then don't bother looking here--it makes every college look great. Yes, student interviews are included, but they are overwhelmingly positive--it's almost as if these entries are extensions of the admissions department from each school. The most negative kind of comments you can find are those such as "classes are demanding" and "this school is for people who want to make a lot of money after college."
If you're like me, then as a college-bound student (or the parent of one) you don't just want to read the good news about your prospective schools, but the bad news too. If the dining hall food is lousy, the dorms are dreadful, or the town is not college-friendly, then this is something we deserve to know, rather than have glossed over in a sea of overblown praise. Look elsewhere for this type of critical information.
Here are the statistics provided by the Fiske guide:
Website, Location, Public/Private, Total Enrollment, Undergraduates, % Male/Female, SAT Ranges, ACT Ranges, % Financial Aid, % Pell Grant, Expense (they use categories, but why not just provide an exact full tuition cost?), % Student Loans, Average Debt (again categorized instead of a dollar amount), Phi Betta Kappa (Yes/No), # Applicants, % Accepted, % Enrolled, % Grad in 6 Years, % Returning Freshmen, Academics (rating), Social (rating), Quality of Life (rating), Admissions Phone #, Email Address, List of Strong Programs, Application Requirements.
I wish you the best of luck with your college search!