For many high school seniors, it’s that time of year when the search for colleges is wrapping up—or, for juniors, is just beginning. Whether you’re interested in comparing university stats, finding out how affordable college will be, or comparing your test scores against your peers, Wolfram|Alpha has some valuable tools to help you pick the right school.

Query the college or university of your choice (say, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Wolfram|Alpha will give you the data you expect—location, the year it was founded, and so on:

unc-chapel hill

But we don’t stop there. Not only can Wolfram|Alpha provide enrollment figures (and create lists of, say, schools with the most part-time students), but we can use degrees awarded to break down which fields of study are the most popular at a given school. So you can find out that UNC is a popular choice for health sciences and medicine, but less so for engineering:

unc - chapel hill degrees awarded by field

Perhaps the most useful data Wolfram|Alpha has, though, relates to cost and affordability. Recent education initiatives like the White House’s College Scorecard, look at the true cost of college (including grants and scholarships), borrowing costs, and graduation rates instead of focusing on tuition and acceptance rates. Wolfram|Alpha provides this data and makes it easy to compare schools. In terms of raw tuition, UNC’s arch-rival Duke is much more expensive on paper, but the net price is a bit narrower than you may expect:

unc vs. duke

College costs go beyond tuition and meal plans, especially if you’re living off-campus, so don’t forget to use Wolfram|Alpha to compare the cost of living in the cities where the colleges are located. How about UNC versus USC, or Chapel Hill versus the University of California, Los Angeles?

cost of living in chapel hill vs. los angeles

Our university knowledge extends even further. If you’re a reader of this blog, you’re probably a fan of learning, so you might just want to pick your college based on which has the largest library:

biggest university libraries

(Wolfram|Alpha just so happens to be headquartered in the same city as the #2 college library. Coincidence? Who can say…)

You can’t go to college until you take the tests, though (well, most of the time), so to wrap this up, let’s look at some of Wolfram|Alpha’s standardized test data. If you’re applying to an out-of-state school, you may want to know whether high-schoolers in that state take the SAT or ACT more often…

minnesota high school graduates taking the sat, minnesota high school graduates taking the act

…or what the average SAT score is for a state in general. If your own score isn’t quite as high as you’d like, you can use the Wolfram Problem Generator and our word data to boost your skills in math and English.

As the college hunt gets increasingly complex, we hope that Wolfram|Alpha gives you an edge when you’re deciding on the right school to attend. Best of luck!

1 Comment

Thanks for this great feature, my brother and his friends are currently having a hard time to find good search results on Google – I will send them the link to Wolfram Alpha, so they can make use of these great search features.

Posted by Markus December 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm Reply
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