110: How to Find and Research Great Colleges: The Fiske Guide

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INFORMED:

SHOW NOTES

My guest for this episode is Edward B. Fiske (known to most as “Ted”). Ted served as Education Editor for the New York Times from 1974 until 1991, and is well-known to college bound students and their parents as the editor of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, a staple of any high school counselor library and the nation’s best-selling college guide. He has co-authored a range of other books on college admissions with Bruce G. Hammond, including the Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College, What to Do When for College, Real College Essays that Work and Nailing the New SAT.

Ted’s book has been a go-to reference for me (and many other counselors) in our work with students and I loved getting a chance to go behind the scenes and hearing how the sausage is made. We discuss, among other things:

  • Why did the Fiske Guide happen in the first place?
  • How does Ted avoid sounding generally positive about all schools?
  • How the Fiske Guide ratings systems differs from that of US News and World Report
  • Who actually writes all 882 pages of the Fiske Guide
  • The best approach for students who have no idea what they want
  • Some of the biggest mistakes students and parents make when searching for a school
  • The dangers of narrowing your college choices too early on.
  • One quality Ted finds essential to having an amazing college experience

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who  is Ted Fiske? [0:34]
What do you do, Ted, and why do you do it? [3:30]
Why did you create the Fiske Guide? [4:53] 
How did you begin to collect information about colleges? [6:19] 
How do you avoid sounding generally positive about all schools? [8:36] [11:00]
Which colleges get selected for the guide--how do you decide which 325 schools get in? [12:55]
How does a college petition to get included in the guide? [12:48] [14:48]
What shapes the criteria for rating colleges in the Fiske Guide? [15:53]
Why students are looking for a diverse student body in their college [19:05]
Why getting a liberal arts degree can serve students well in life. [21:49]
How Ted uses stars to rates schools based on a variety of factors [22:37]
How the US News and World Report ratings are different from the Fiske Guide’s [25:00]
Why ranking schools based on inputs (SAT scores and GPA of incoming students) isn’t the best [27:18]
How the US News rankings began [29:24]
How the US News rankings can help you find a school [30:14]
Who actually writes all 882 pages of the Fiske Guide? [30:49]
Who works on the Fiske Guide? [32:47]
When do you feel the guide is most useful during the college application process? [34:26]
The first step to developing your college list [37:26]
The best approach for students who have no idea what they want [39:40]
What are the most important qualities that students should look for? [42:00]
What are some of the biggest mistakes students and parents make when searching for a school? [45:52]
The dangers of narrowing your college choices too early on [47:24]
One thing students should definitely do during this process, but many often don’t actually do [47:24]
How to choose between the online, app, and hard-copy version of the Fiske Guide [54:05]
Ted’s Show & Tell: One quality that is essential to having an amazing college experience [55:55]
Ethan’s Show & Tell: How to Create a Great College List [58:23]

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