Students who are on the college hunt typically use a wide variety of tools in their searches, combining tips from school counselors and family members with online reviews. But much of the college search process is moving to the platform that students carry with them at all times – the smartphone. To pinpoint a few apps that students might find helpful during the search process, College Confidential asked over a dozen high school juniors to test a wide variety of phone apps.
Following you’ll find the five apps they found the most helpful, listed in alphabetical order.
College Hunch: A few aspects of this app appealed to our reviewers, several of whom said they really liked the PayScale return-on-investment rank that the app offers. “Some colleges look too expensive but if you can see the return on investment and average salary of graduates like this app shows, it can help put those costs into perspective,” said reviewer Paul. Other testers pointed to the "notable alumni" listing as being helpful, so they could see who in their field graduated from that school. Another key feature was the "compare" function, which provides a side-by-side look at two different schools so you can see factors such as acceptance rate, average SAT and GPA, and other elements between different institutions.
College Prep: Our testers were pleased about the fact that this app allowed them to parse the analytical data to a very detailed level. “You can search by major and preferred location, and then when the list of colleges comes up, you can sort by a variety of filters, including ‘salary after attending,’” said reviewer Dana. You can then compare schools within your selected criteria and see the details of each. Our tester Madison pointed to the "admissions requirements checklist" as being helpful. “It keeps you on task with things like the number of math, foreign language, etc., classes that the schools on your list require, the events coming up, and even your own assignments due in high school so you can stay on schedule with the application timeline,” she said.
Scoir: This app offers a quick snapshot of the average ACT/SAT scores, gender and ethnic diversity of admitted students -- and even the most common states where each school’s students went to high school. It also lists the most popular majors and costs for different colleges. Our tester Jacob said he likes how the app lets users feel like they’re actually on the campus of each school. “The overview shows the stats, the ‘wall’ shows pictures from the campus, and you can use the ‘notebook’ feature to take notes (or photos) of that school so your entire experience with that school is right in the app,” he said. “When I visited Vanderbilt, I used the app and marked it as a ‘reach’ school so now I can go back to it as I keep my running college list up to date.” If you go to the "more" page, you can tap "visits and deadlines" to stay on top of key important dates. It also offers links to the Common and Coalition Applications and can take you to the registration pages for the ACT and SAT.
The College Fair: This app was particularly beloved by our reviewers who don’t yet have their future career paths set in stone. “The most helpful feature was when I typed in my major,” said Alexa. “Over 250 schools came up that fit the major, and then I was able to add filters to that. I could sort by tuition, acceptance rate, location and some other criteria.” If you aren’t sure of which major you want to pursue, you can tell the app which field you want to go into, and then it will list several jobs in that industry. Once you click the position you'd like, you get a lot of information, like what education level is required, the median salary, projected job growth, skills needed and other facts. “I bookmarked a career as a budget analyst as being appealing, then the app listed several recommended majors for me,” said our reviewer Ben. “If you tap one of those majors, you can then see the schools that offer it, which you can filter based on your preferences.”
Editor's Note: College Confidential, its parent Roadtrip Nation, and The College Fair app are all part of the Strada Education Network.
ZeeMee: What our testers found interesting about this app is that it links to an entire community of other students. “If I add Boston College to my list, it will show me the other students who are interested in that school – there were 969 of them,” said our reviewer Sam. “If I click a person's name, I can see where else they applied and even send them a message or follow them if I'm interested in connecting.” Once students are accepted somewhere, they can upload their acceptance letters and then communicate with the other accepted students to chat about the school, find a roommate, etc. Some students add videos and other interactive features. “It's a good way to connect and to see who else is interested in the same schools as you, their majors, and whether they got in,” Sam said.