Frequently Asked Questions
- Why did you create SR and is it meeting your goals?
- Exactly how does it work?
- What is your background?
- Why do some schools have a lot of surveys, others not so many?
- How accurate is the information?
- Could someone who either loves or hates a particular school go on and fill out numerous surveys to skew the results?
- I've read that StudentsReview is unmoderated, is that true?
- Some folks say this is a website for angry students to vent, that positive students don't fill out your surveys.
- What do the school administrators think about your site? Has any school ever tried to censor your findings or get you shut down?
- What do high school students think? Do you ever get any feedback?
- Some of the information seems to be one or two years out of date?
- Is StudentsReview a complete one stop solution my college search?
A: Several years ago, some friends and I graduated from an educational institution feeling "taken for a ride". The piece of paper we had worked so hard for, and spent so much money for -- was exactly that -- a piece of paper. We didn't feel that we were given either the education or opportunities promised. Surprisingly, we didn't feel that the institution itself was at fault, but rather that the entire college application-search process itself was not geared to make students truly informed customers.
We set out to change that -- not by targeting the institutions, but rather to provide a set of metrics and personal experiences that a potential student could crossreference against to "inform" his/her search process. As the college of choice provides the stepping stone to a career and the rest of life, it is important that a student make a choice not on reputation alone, but on how well the student will be able to excel personally.
So far, yes, StudentsReview is meeting that goal. The concept has proven itself through the comment system, and has been useful to countless parents and high school students, who simply do not know what they are looking for, how to sift through promotional material, or how to even begin to choose.
A: Self selecting students come to the StudentsReview site and take the survey. Their survey is archived into a database, where it is analyzed statistically to determine its authenticity. If it passes, the survey appears on the StudentsReview site within the next half hour, and affects the rankings the following day. We delay the effect on rankings to prevent people from getting carried away with "making their university #1".
A: I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a MS from MIT.
With my background, I found an incredible opportunity to make a site that is really relevant in today's competitive and expensive educational landscape.
A:Because the survey rate is entirely referral driven, some schools have a high number of surveys, while others have a low amount. If there are universities you'd like to see more reviews for, please recommend us to someone who is a student or has graduated from that institution. Or.. recommend us to everyone!
A: We have found that each survey provides an accurate picture on some element of the university. On a whole, we find that 5 "different" comments (it is focusing on different aspects, with different experiences) give a well rounded picture -- more comments provide more detail of what is going on "behind the scenes" in the university and student environment... Every comment also provides insight into the student body -- besides reading the comment for "truth", it is important to ask "would I like to go to school with a student who makes "this type" of comment?".
A: No, it is not possible to skew the results in this manner. Our goal is to have one submission per person and semester. While people do on occassion submit multiple surveys, we have an extremely sophisticated statistical modeler that catches multiple submissions or duplicates.
Because the surveyors are self-selected, it ispossible for 200 like minded people to take 200 different (similar) surveys and skew the results. Currently, there is nothing we can do about that -- the surveys are valid, after all, but we are investigating ways to normalize all the institutions against strong data biases.
A: No. Every single comment and survey posted is read to verify that they are "valid". Those few review we have removed were somewhat suspicious and they did not add information. (that is being full of foul language or being clearly from an admissions department). Uncensored does not mean "unmoderated". We do not alter peoples' comments or take them out of context. We want the pictures portrayed to be as clear and informative as possible. If that means there is some offensive language or descriptions, their existence provides insight into the student body and conditions on campus.
A: That is completely false. For one, we only allow a student to retake the survey once per semester. As such, their "vent" is not a message board of flames, but rather a complete, standalone negative opinion. Negative opinions sometimes unjustly carry a negative weight about the author. Usually they provide insight into a specific problem at a particular institution. We've found that 63% of students would return to their college if given a choice. We took a survey of a group of students who weredispleased with their university, but would not take our college survey. We found that these students were primarily embarrassed by their own opinion, blamed themselves to some degree, or felt they were too "big" to succumb to "badtalking" their university online. "Negative" opinions are actually more difficult to gather than positive ones.
A: Feelings are mixed. Some schools have praised us for providing a great service, while others have tried to sue us and have our data blocked. Unfortunately, some of the most significant and damaging results have been from some university admissions, who have misrepresented themselves as students to skew our data as exceptionally favorable for their institution and to skew it against "competing" schools. For the most part, we have been able to detect this and take it down.
A: Actually, yes, we get lots of feedback. More than just a few students and parents have emailed us to let us know that we have really helped them out in their college search. We aim to give "answers to the questions students wish they had known to ask", and many people have thanked us for opening their eyes to issues they hadn't thought to take into account. As far as suggestions, we have a steady stream, for which it is just about impossible to keep up. We appreciate hearing from people and learning how they use StudentsReview. This feedback is essential to helping make StudentsReview as relevant as possible.
A: We try to keep the data up to date, but with a database of 10,000 institutions and an uncountable number of subprograms/majors/etc, which are changing all of the time, we are bound to miss some. If you see something that looks wrong please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course visit the school's site directly through the provided link.
A: We'd like to say "yes", but the truth is, no single site is going to be a complete or perfect source of information. One should not make a decision where to spend four years (and $100,000+) based on only one source of information.