For the college bound, the “Fiske College Guides” have always been go-to resources. Along with information on hundreds of academic institutions, the books offer to-do lists for a successful college search and tips on writing admission essays and taking the SAT. Two years ago they launched an interactive guide with entries on 300-plus colleges with options to add notes, email admissions offices, and more. The latest addition to their list is an ebook sampler to some of the “best buys” in higher education. Four more similar enhanced guides will follow.
The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 Best Buys enhanced ebook (iBook, $4.99, available on a variety of devices; Gr 9 Up) occupies an awkward place in between the Guide’s 2014 print version (released July 2, 2013) and its interactive app.
While the ebook provides the same clear, helpful reviews and ratings of schools that all Fiske products do, only 14 of the 41 “Best Buy” schools are included in this sneak peek of the print book, which is only hinted at in the ebook’s description. The schools are chosen to represent a variety of locations, majors, and sizes, but such a small list is limited in its usefulness.
The text descriptions of schools are accompanied by color photos of campuses and infographics relating data such as gender balance, average test scores, academic and social ratings, and enrollment, and strongest programs. Unfortunately, the graphics are not optimized for retina display, making them difficult to read. The ebook offers keyword search and links to school websites (a benefit over the print book), but not the more full-fledged search across multiple criteria or the ability to add schools to lists available in the app.
Students and parents who are unsure if they want to purchase the book or the app may find this enhanced ebook a way to sample Fiske’s style of description and ranking, but those on a dedicated college search aren’t likely to be satisfied with this small sampling. Overall, those preparing for college would be better served by either the print book or the full-featured app.—Gretchen Kolderup, New York Public Library
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