Book Reviews – The Unofficial, Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges

The Unofficial, Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges
By Trent Anderson and Seppy Basili
Published by Kaplan
Released August 2003 [ ISBN: 0-7432-4145-2 ]
USD: $20.00 / CAD: $31.50
Buy it from: Booksense, Barnes & Noble or Borders/Amazon.


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Arrow Right  Adam Marshall

The very first few pages are where Seppy and Trent describe their personal experiences matching up with real life scenarios. This provides a method of a reality check, showing everyone that anyone and everyone can make mistakes by applying to the wrong colleges or not knowing what to do to even apply for college.

This book offers a dynamically changing yearly list of colleges that are deemed “most interesting”. What makes a college “most interesting” could be many things such as the prestige of the school, the academics offered, how inexpensive a college tuition is, if there are any unique programs offered at that college, and many more dynamically changing criteria. All of the information for this list of colleges they will choose to deem “most interesting,” is polled from inside sources of each college such as past graduates, and the guidance counselors. Once they have their list of colleges, they use extensive open-ended surveys (no multiple choice answers, all paragraph answers) and get some information from past and present students, and college officials.

The book breaks down the schools into categories that you might look for in a college such as hot and trendy, the best value, small colleges that deserve wider recognition, colleges that party hard and pull pranks, colleges where “nerds” will strive and fit in, colleges that have such a great campus life that students wish to extend their stay past 4 years, schools that are innovative and unconventional with academic learning, schools that have drug/alcohol free facilities, and more. This book even goes into which TV shows (such as CSI, ER, Boston Public, etc) have influence on teenagers on what career they may want to go into.

The main section (that takes up most of the pages in the 710 page book) is the individual school profiles. There is an extensive “guide” to reading the profiles located at the beginning of the profile’s section. Some of the topics covered for each college are: General info about the school such as type of school (all men, all women, coed, etc), the setting (urban, rural), the academic calendar (semestered or other), what the student body consists of, full time undergrads, part time undergrads, the population in percent of Latino, native American, Caucasian, the costs that year for tuition and fees, room & board, and more.

All school profiles have 3 main sections titled: Inside the Classroom, Campus Environment, and Student Life. These provide a vague yet satisfactory outline to the school. Taking into consideration that each college has enough information to write one of these books per college, Trent and Seppy have done a good job in outlining the 3 sections. Of course the description is vague but this book gives you the basis to start your in-depth search for colleges.

For each College, Trent & Seppy have their own little box of what they think about the college. These are their opinions and they range from being funny, to serious.

Overall the book is quite good. It gives a very good idea about each college, enough to figure out if you want to go there or not, or at least research the college more. I recommend this book as a first resource book to any high school or prospective college student.

Arrow Right  Cindy Coffman

“The Unofficial Biased Guild to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges” is a book like no other that I’ve seen. This book goes behind the scenes and takes a look at things that no brochures would ever tell you. Who knew that at places like Cooper Union, 100% of the undergrads receive free money? Who knew that if you go to a college like Albertson College of Idaho or Drew University gave out laptops free to their students? This book is filled with great facts like this and more. The book even gets the students involved, and you get the point of view from fellow students from the school. But this book does have a downside.

This book isn’t for those looking into what majors the schools have available. The book is based around what students and councilors think of the school, a few facts, and that’s about it. The book gives you some facts like what the most popular majors are (most have biology on the list), how many students receive grants, how many students there are, and average cost to go to the school. There is very little information on the school, only 2 pages per school, so this book is only for those who want to take a wide look at a bunch of colleges and get the behind the scenes look at each other them.

Over all, this book is very interesting, and very helpful. It lacks some of the more important details that I am interested in, but besides that the book is great. Every high school junior/senior or anyone who is thinking about college should have this book. Its well worth it.

Arrow Right  Dustin Sizemore

I received “The Unofficial Biased Guild to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges” and thought it was going to be just another college directory book, I was totally wrong. This book tells you the things you want and need to know, for example the majors in the colleges. This book does not drone on and on about the college and it’s history. There is around a page or two for each college which I find very good. This book also gives information on the community size and some general information of the community that the college is in.

There are however drawbacks, some colleges are not listed for example Western Kentucky University wasn’t listed, this is a college I plan on attending and I was rather disappointed to find that this college was not in this book.

All in all this book is a great addition to any high school junior or seniors collection. A must for an upcoming college student.

Arrow Right  Shane Hacunda

As with the other reviewers of The Unofficial, Biased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges I expected this thick volume of information to be nothing more than page after page of average SAT scores, GPAs, and tuition for incoming students to the most prominent colleges in the nation. However Trent Anderson and Seppy Basili have certainly enlightened me since that day. Though it certainly describes the ever-important aspects of average GPAs and SAT scores, it goes much further. This book has proven itself to me as an invaluable resource to a high school student looking for the correct college to spend their next 4 years at, as I go through this process myself.

This guide goes in depth to what a student should truly look for in a college, what they want. Instead of picking a college simply based on its landscape, admission rate, or tuition as most college guides use, this book catalogs colleges based on such things as unconventional teaching methods (Outside the Box: Innovative Schools), relaxing and entertaining campuses (“Peter Pan” Schools), or what everyone knows is truly most important: “Animal House” Schools.

Starting with advice directly from the authors, coming from their own experience, this book details how to properly asses a college from a visit to its campus, as well as information for a proper application process. The majority of this book however contains a breakdown of the 328 most interesting colleges. The breakdown details numerous things, including student bodies, for those looking to not be out of place, or to stand out in for that matter, common practices of the school in the classroom, as well as actual comments from students of the college about their life and why they feel their college deserves your attention. All of this information comes together to provide you with a detailed look inside some of the best colleges in the country to help you out with your important decision. I would highly recommend it as a bible to those looking for a college.

Arrow Right Publisher’s Review

Dear Reader:

The college admissions process can be overwhelming — so many choices, so little guidance. We’re here to help. Our Unofficial, Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges cuts through the hype and the blizzard of admissions stats with exclusive insider’s information organized in a user-friendly format. This guidance offers practical advice you won’t find anywhere else:

  • Current students and recent grads tell you what life on campus is REALLY like.
  • Guidance counselors share their choices for “Most Overrated,” “Most Underrated,” “Best Value,” and other valuable lists.
  • We’ve added our own observations and recommendations based on years of experience helping students navigate the college admissions process.

How many times have you heard, “It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make”? Nothing like a little pressure! Having the facts at hand will help you choose the schools that best match your needs, so that you can feel confident about making your final decision.

Open the book. Let’s get started!

Check out the Schools in Each of These Categories:

  • Best Value
  • Hidden Treasure
  • Hot & Trendy
  • Revenge of the Nerds
  • Valedictorians


  • Underrated/Overrated
  • Beautiful Campus
  • Animal House
  • Class President
  • Peter Pan
  • Outside the Box
  • Drug/Alcohol Free
  • Changed for the Better

Trent Anderson is the Vice President for Education at Cablevision, Inc., where he oversees the ‘Power to Learn’ initiative. Before joining Cablevision, Trent was the Vice President of Publishing for Kaplan, Inc., where he developed book projects for the education market. During his 10 years with Kaplan, Trent was a test prep instructor, admissions advisor, financial aid expert, and author and contributing editor of several books, including Once Upon a Campus, Straight Talk on Paying for College, and Kaplan’s precollege and pregrad school test prep titles. Trent spent his college years in Southern California, where he earned his bachelor’s degree at UCLA and his J.D. and M.B.A. at the University of Southern California. Prior to working at Kaplan, Inc., Trent taught undergraduate business law at the University of Southern California.

Seppy Basili, Kaplan’s resident “College Guru,” has been analyzing college trends for more than 15 years. During his Kaplan career, Seppy has overseen Kaplan’s test preparation programs and publications for the SAT, ACT, and PSAT exams as well as college admissions services. Along with Trent Anderson, he is the co-author of Once Upon a Campus and Straight Talk on Paying for College. He also founded the Kaplan-Newsweek imprint publications, which include the annual How to Get Into College guide. Seppy has spent many years on college campuses, receiving his B.A. from Kenyon College, M.Ed. from the University of California — Berkeley, and J.D. from Emory University. 

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The following is an excerpt from the book The Unofficial, Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges 
by Trent Anderson and Seppy Basili 
Published by Kaplan; August 2003; $20.00$US/$31.50CAN; 0-7432-4145-2
Copyright © 2003 Kaplan, Inc.

Best Value

When it comes to paying for college, you want to be sure you’re getting the most for your money. Weighing the quality of education against the cost, here are the schools that guidance counselors believe offer the best value for your tuition dollar:

Arizona State University AZ University of South Carolina SC
University of Michigan — Ann Arbor MI Truman State University MO
University of Virginia VA University of Colorado — Boulder CO
University of Minnesota — Twin Cities MN University of Idaho ID
Grove City College PA Eastern Michigan University MI
Rice University TX Louisiana  State University and A&M College  LA
University of Maryland — College Park MD York College of Pennsylvania PA
Georgia Institute of Technology GA Murray State University KY
Penn State University — University Park PA Duke University NC
University of Delaware DE Purdue University — West Lafayette NC
University of Arizona AZ Winona State University  MN
University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill NC University of Missouri — Colombia  MO
Indiana University — Bloomington IN Washington State University WA
University of Oklahoma OK Florida A&M University FL
University of Wisconsin — Madison WI Roanoke College VA
University of Pittsburgh PA Penn State University — Erie PA
Rutgers University — New Brunswick NJ University of Washington WA
University of Iowa IA Clark Atlanta University GA
University of Alabama AL Concordia College MN
University of Georgia GA Northwest Missouri State University MN
Spelman College GA State University of New York — Genesco NY
Miami University OH Keene State College NH
Oklahoma State University OK South Dakota State University SD
Auburn University AL University of North Dakota ND
Baylor University TX University of Wyoming WY
University of Texas — Austin TX Albertson College of Idaho ID
Mississippi State University MS University of Connecticut CT
Hampton University  VA University of New Mexico NM
West Virginia University WV University of New Hampshire NH
Florida State University FL    

Most Underrated Schools

Some schools just don’t get the respect they deserve. Guidance counselors say that these schools are the most underrated:

University of California — Riverside CA Wright State University OH
University of Arizona AZ Oakland University MI
Duke University NC Western Michigan University MI
Florida Atlantic University FL University of Chicago IL
University of Houston TX Southern Illinois University — Carbonale IL
University of Texas — El Paso TX Augsburg College MN
Clark University MA Ball State University IN
Nicholls State University LA Pittsburgh State University KS
California State University — San Marcos CA Wichita State University KS
Rutgers University — New Brunswick NJ University of Massachusetts — Amherst MA

Most Overrated Schools

Other schools might deserve to be taken down a peg or two. Guidance counselors say that these schools are the most overrated:

Harvard University MA Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University  VA
University of California — Los Angeles CA University of Illinois — Urbana -Champaign  IL
University of Michigan — Ann Arbor MI Penn State University — University Park PA
University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill NC University of Tennessee — Knoxville TN
New York University NY University of Pennsylvania PA
Yale University CT Texas A&M University TX
Stanford University CA University of Georgia GA
Boston College MA Miami University OH
Princeton University NJ Duke University NC
University of Texas — Austin TX University of Virginia VA
University of Southern California CA Boston University  MA
University of Notre Dame IN University of Kansas KS
University of Florida FL    
University of California — Berkeley CA    

Copyright © 2003 by Kaplan, Inc.

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