Free, fast, and helpful information for college searches and the application process. Developed by college admission professionals.

Methodology

The magic of CollegesLike begins with a lot of data. The data on 6,374 colleges and universities comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Then we eliminated colleges that did not meet certain criteria. Colleges in our search must be:

  • Primarily academic institutions. Not trade schools, like beauty colleges.
  • Located within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. We know that Puerto Rico, Guam, and other territories are part of America, but their colleges are so different that they don’t compare well to mainland colleges.
  • Participates in the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). If we don’t have data, we can’t make a comparison.
  • Accredited by a regional accrediting organization.
  • Awards undergraduate college degrees. Graduate-only institutions were removed.
  • Currently open for business. Not those that are closing or closed.
  • Predominantly brick-and-mortar institutions. Not online colleges.

The colleges that remained are the 3,477 institutions that are included in CollegesLike. This gave us a core snapshot of colleges, and especially student demographics, academics, admission standards, and financial data.

But that’s just data and doesn’t say enough about colleges. So we added some additional objective data, including: NCAA division, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges, women’s colleges, military service academies, religious affiliations, non-profit or for-profit status, region/location, and the special educational focuses of colleges.

Next, we brought the secret sauce! The staff have a combined 112 years of service working on college campuses, and while everyone has worked professionally in Admission, three members of the team were Vice Presidents of Admission at colleges and universities that are consistently ranked among the Top 10 in America. We argued about things like, “What are the ‘Southern Ivies’?” and, “How much are Brandeis and Pomona like the NESCAC colleges?” Answers to these questions are subjective, but we came to a consensus and figured out which campus cultures are similar and which ones are dissimilar.

All of this – national data, objective data, and campus culture - resulted in 211 different metrics. Finally, we had to figure out how much to weigh each of the 211 metrics so that the results make sense.

The Engineering Team took the data from the Data & Search Engine Team and wrote it into an algorithm, using MYSQL query language. Then the Engineering Team put the search engine into the website using PHP.

Why are some colleges not included in CollegesLike?

There are 3,477 colleges and universities included in CollegesLike! Yet some colleges and universities are not included. In order to be included in CollegesLike, a college must meet all of the requirements in our list.

At some point, we may choose to expand our search parameters. There are some fine colleges outside of the 3,477 that were included on this website. But at this time, these terms define which colleges are included in CollegesLike.

Might the search results change if I perform the same search at a later date?

Absolutely, for several reasons:

  • Colleges evolve and change. Their institutional data is evolving, not static.
  • CollegesLike will continue to add more data sources over time.
  • CollegesLike will be using Artificial Intelligence and algorithms to make the responses more precise.

What if I disagree with CollegesLike’s data?

Smart people can disagree with each other. You can send us an email and carefully explain what your concern is. We respond to polite and reasonable emails. Send it to  hi@collegeslike.com.