There are many peer and aspirant selection tools available online. Below is a partial list with a brief description of some of these tools.
American Association of University Professors (AAUP): One of the most frequently requested comparisons is that of faculty compensation. The AAUP provides aggregated information from the Faculty Salaries Survey. Click here for a user friendly interface developed by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education: There are two peer tools available on the website.
- Using the Institutional Look-Up, tool, a list of other colleges with similar classifications is generated by clicking on the "Find Similar" button at the bottom of the page. First, the user must search for an institution to be used as the starting point.
- Using the Custom Listings capability, no starting institution is needed. This tool is a bit more flexible in that it allows multiple classifications within each Carnegie category.
CollegeBoard: Both search and comparison capabilities are available on bigfuture by the College Board. Information is limited, probably due to the fact that the primary audience is prospective students and parents. For example, information about faculty or instructional expenses is not available. Additionally, only a maximum of three colleges can be compared simultaneously.
College Factual: This free service takes outcome-based data to help compare colleges using proprietary algorithms. The data provided on the site has been broken down into data sets important to prospective students and parents. Tools are provided in the website to allow for easier dissemination of data.
CollegeInsight: Hosted by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), this website provides aggregated financial aid information. Although the focus of this application is affordability, information on enrollment, diversity, and student success is also available. The search engine is flexible affording selection on multiple values for one or more of the following: sector, geographic location, enrollment sizes, percent of Pell recipients, and tuition. Additionally, several years of data are available.
College Measures: Several key institutional indicators are automatically aggregated by state and nationally on this website. Institutional information is displayed as a performance scorecard which must be viewed separately for each school.
College Miner: This website is unique because it reports alumni salary information (College Miner, 2013). Simultaneous comparisons can only be made for a maximum of three institutions. The target audience is prospective students and parents. Priority of this application is ease of use and generating colorful graphics over data.
College Navigator: Provided by NCES, this tool narrows college peers by level of award, institutional type and geographic location (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2013a). Because of the information available and the interface, this tool and the IPEDS Data Center website described below are recommended by the authors.
College News: As with the CollegeBoard, College News has a repository of college information named, Compare Colleges. The online application provides the rankings of several publications including the US News & World Report (College News, 2013). Also shown is information about enrollment size, acceptance rates, and tuition. Although visually appealing, the interface is somewhat confusing and cumbersome.
College Results Online: Sponsored by The Education Trust, the origin of the data is the same as this case study, primarily IPEDS information (The Education Trust, 2012). Type and geographic location limits the number of peers that can be selected at one time.
IPEDS Data Center: The IPEDS Data Center, also supported by NCES, provides access to data for multiple institutions simultaneously (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013b). The list of frequently used and derived variables makes access to an otherwise vast and unwieldy inventory of data elements somewhat easier. Early released data to IPEDS key holders can be obtained by request. Most of the data for this case study is from the IPEDS Data Center.
National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement (NASCE): NASCE provides comparisons among participants regarding student service engagement (National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement, 2012). Available data is derived from a survey of student service activities and attitudes.
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO): Comparative information sourced from several NACUBO surveys is available to member institutions (National Association of College and University Business Officers, 2012). A peer selection tool is among the site’s capabilities.
US News & World Report: For a fee, additional data provided to US News & World Report can be downloaded for participating institutions (US News & World Report, 2011). Rankings aside, some of the information that can be acquired from US News & World Report is not readily available elsewhere. Among the data elements unique to the US News & World Report ranking is: (a) awarded financial aid packages, (b) class size, and (c) high school GPA of entering students.