A College Search Engine?

This must exist.  Why don't I know about it?

January 28, 2014

If you live with a high school junior than you probably having lots of discussions about college.

"Where should we visit"?

“What sort of college is the right fit?"

"What schools can I get into?”

Lots of questions.

I’d like to think that I am a pretty informed parent when it comes to higher education.  The reality, as I am learning, is that I know about a limited number of colleges.  

I can talk to my daughter about the limited number of schools that I know about.  Places that I have visited, or know about from colleagues who I know from edtech circles.   

I can reel off the usual suspects by reputation.   Or schools that I applied to back in 1987.

I’m thinking that there are a huge number of terrific colleges and universities that would make a terrific fit for my class of 2019 daughter.  (And her class of 2021 sister).   

But I don’t know about these great schools.  I don’t have a good picture of how colleges off my mental map may have all the attributes that would make them a good fit for my kids.

Most likely my daughter’s high school guidance counselor is in possession of this expanded higher ed database.  As a parent, however, I don’t want to rely on the high school guidance counselor.  This is the professional that my daughter works with when at school.  Not someone with whom I will build a relationship.

This seems like an obvious problem that can be addressed by an online platform.  A Web site.  A college search engine.  

A simple way that a site like this could operate would be as a matching service.  You put in the name of a college that you know about, and the search returns a list of schools that are similar to the one you entered.   

If I enter “Quinnipiac”, the search engine would come back with some key info about Quinnipiac.  It would also show comparable schools across the country.  Schools that are about as selective, and ones that are a little harder and a little easier to be admitted.  Schools that are as expensive, and a bit more and a bit less expensive.   Schools that are in driving distance from our home, and schools that are further away.

This sort of college search engine would improve as its underlying database got better.   The number of colleges and universities are a small enough population that it seems that the relevant data could be entered by hand.  

The user experience of the site would be improved as it grew.   Start with a minimally viable product that only returned basic results, and expand the data returned as it became clear what searchers wanted to see.

I can think of many ways that this sort of site could eventually be monetized.  Searchers could pay for customized reports.  Schools could pay for data about what people are searching on.   

This idea seems so obvious that this site must exist.

A college search engine that is simple, uncluttered, and gives exactly what is needed.

Many of you are saying Naviance about now.  But isn't Naviance a subscription service?  A B-2-B platform?  A heavyweight tool?  Maybe I don't understand Naviance?   I think we need something free, light and effective. 

Please point us in the right direction.


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