SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — For many high school seniors, fall means deciding where to apply for college and maybe visiting a guidance counselor. Picking a college is nothing like it once was. In 1980, there were 3,150 colleges and universities, according to the Department of Education. Now, there are close to 4,700 and data crunchers hope to help.

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock


The popularity of social media sites and advancements in the ability to analyze the vast amounts of data we put online give members of the class of 2015 more tools than ever to help chart their next step, even if finding the right college is an inexact science.

While popular, these online search tools definitely have their limitations. Every student is an individual. No website can predict with 100% accuracy your chances of admission, or if once you’re in, you’ll be satisfied.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has just come out with its “University Finder,” which identifies which colleges are popular with which companies.

It pulls data from its 313 million profiles to find out which schools and degrees translate into jobs at certain companies. For example, if you want to study computer science and work at a company like IBM someday, LinkedIn says the majority of its members who fit that criteria went to North Carolina State or the University of Texas at Austin, Both are near IBM research facilities.

Parchment.com

Parchment.com, a company that handles electronic student transcripts, uses a technique called “crowdsourcing.” Students finalizing the college selection process agree to share with the site such information as their grades, which schools accepted them and where they chose to go. That information helps to predict another student’s chances of getting in to a certain school. The site can suggest other schools and say whether most students preferred one college over another.

Admitted.ly

Admitted.ly
is like a dating service site for higher education. The site claims it aims to help students find their dream schools and get in. It pairs students with colleges based on such as factors as body piercings and whether applicants go to church. There is no cost to use the platform.

StatFuse

StatFuse predicts admission chances based entirely on data released by 1,200 popular universities. Factors include average grades and test scores of student accepted. It provides students with instant results showing them their chances of admission to universities across the nation.

The College Board

The College Board, the same outfit that runs the SAT exam, says it runs nearly 2 million unique searches a month on its site, which takes into account grades and test scores but also can consider desired location, size, diversity and financial aid needs.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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