What is WiseChoice?
WiseChoice is an unbiased, personalized online college counseling resource created to increase college access and student graduation rates. Our goal is to reduce the stress and confusion commonly associated with the college selection and application process. And we do so by providing students and families with accurate, timely information as they explore college options and plan for their future.
The WiseChoice system matches students to colleges, not through a simple filtering process, but by learning about students personalities, preferences, academics and financial resources. After gathering extensive student input, we use a sophisticated algorithm to provide a “match score” between students and colleges. We believe matches based on students’ unique characteristics will enhance college satisfaction, academic and social engagement on campus, and, above all, the likelihood of earning a bachelor’s degree within four years—which happens only for 29 percent of students at public colleges and universities.*
*Source: U.S. Department of Education/National Center for Education Statistics, publication NCES 2008-173
How can I try out WiseChoice to see if it’s something I want my students to use?
WiseChoice is happy to grant education professionals access to the WiseChoice system. We encourage educators to take a test drive of the system before recommending it to students and families. We've made it easy for teachers, counselors and independent consultants to set up test accounts and check out first-hand our features and tools. Read more about our "WiseChoice Access Codes & Feedback Program" to learn how to receive access codes for your own system use and for your students as well.
How is WiseChoice different from other websites?
WiseChoice strives to understand what each student wants and needs from the college experience. Unlike other websites that use simple filtering tools to provide generic, non-personalized information, WiseChoice offers multi-dimensional college matching—and a unique college planning roadmap—for each student. Students complete comprehensive questionnaires and personality assessments, allowing us to match them to colleges where they are most likely to thrive and succeed.
Beyond college selection, WiseChoice provides detailed information about college applications, costs, scholarships and financial aid. We provide cost estimates—not based on “list prices” and averages but based on each student’s (or family’s) own financial situation. Understanding “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC), financial aid estimates and out-of-pocket college costs before applying helps students and families make important comparisons and informed choices. In addition, our financial aid calculators and four-year planning tools help students make decisions that allow them to graduate with the least amount of debt possible. Our website even keeps students on track with a customized timeline, complete with reminders so they don’t miss important deadlines for testing, applications, scholarships and financial aid.
Why should I trust WiseChoice?
WiseChoice has worked with leading experts in academic counseling, college choice, student development, financial aid, higher education research and complex matching systems. These independent consultants have been integral to the creation of our service, working with us from the highest-level planning to the most detail-oriented fine-tuning. In addition, thousands of users have put WiseChoice through its paces to confirm the functionality of our website's personalized, interactive tools. WiseChoice results and match scores are not influenced by advertisers.
Where does WiseChoice find its educational data?
Our college information comes from a variety of sources, including colleges themselves, the U.S. Department of Education, syndicated data sets and our own proprietary research. We manually cross-reference this information with the data colleges report to ensure accuracy. Finally, our team of expert researchers thoroughly checks our facts and figures.
Students are another important source of our insights into colleges and universities. We have surveyed more than 100,000 college students and recent graduates across the country to gather our student ratings and quotes. Students must attend (or have attended) a college full-time for at least one year to complete the survey, which is administered under a separate brand name to avoid bias. WiseChoice does not publish ratings for any school until we have data from a minimum number of students to ensure reliability.
Why isn’t my college listed?
The WiseChoice database currently includes colleges that meet all of the following requirements:
- accredited, two- and four-year colleges and universities;
- report requisite data to the U.S. Department of Education; and
- located in the 50 United States and District of Columbia.
If your college meets all the above criteria and is not listed, please contact our Customer Care Team.
Can I add to my college listing?
We would be glad to add any missing information or a photo to your college’s listing. However, please note that we cannot publish additional information we don’t capture for other schools. It’s part of how we maintain our unbiased approach.
Please contact our Customer Care Team and include your name, title, college name, supporting documentation and the information or image you would like to submit for possible inclusion on our website.
Can I remove information from my college listing?
No, but if you believe the data presented about your college is inaccurate in any way, don’t hesitate let us know so we can resolve your concerns as soon as possible. A large portion of our information comes from trusted, reliable public sources such as the U.S. Department of Education and other Common data set. Our experts then verify the information, making sure we present only the facts to students and their families. We are even more rigorous when it comes to our own proprietary data—only publishing student survey results for any college or university when we have an acceptable number of responses to ensure accuracy. WiseChoice strives to present factual, unbiased information to help students make the best possible college choices. Please contact our Customer Care Team with any concerns or suggestions on how we might do this better.
How does WiseChoice calculate financial aid?
WiseChoice calculates federal aid according the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), using family demographics and financial information in conjunction with the standard federal methodology. We have designed our questionnaires to be easy to understand and use — in order to eliminate the most common errors made by families.
We calculate state aid based on information collected regarding eligibility requirements and allocation formulas for the top need and merit-based grant programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our research team uses this information to develop algorithms that match students to available state grants and provide a realistic estimate for how much they should expect to receive. Our database of state aid calculators represents $4.8 billion or roughly 80% of all state aid dollars awarded to 4-year public and non-profit institutions. We continue to update and expand this database monthly.
Some schools, usually private schools, also award institutional aid. WiseChoice calculates institutional aid based on publicly available data as well as school-specific financial aid policies as analyzed by our expert consultants. We consider the student’s academic profile and financial need relative to that of the school’s student body, and consider the school’s historical and current approach to packaging need- and merit-based aid. This award estimate has a higher degree of accuracy for the student than using an “average” award figure.
The result: WiseChoice offers customized net cost of college estimates.
How does WiseChoice make money?
WiseChoice generates revenue through licensing and marketing arrangements with selected business partners.
Does WiseChoice share student data?
Is my personal information safe?
Yes. WiseChoice is committed to protecting the security of our users’ personal information. Students and families can use our site in full confidence, knowing we have industry-leading protocols in place to protect their privacy. Our system uses secure server software over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) line to protect information. WiseChoice encrypts all personal information so this information is protected as it travels via the Internet.
In addition, WiseChoice maintains written Information Security Policies that govern our practices. We aggressively guard against any unauthorized intrusion into our systems.
Does WiseChoice market to students and families?
WiseChoice users can choose to receive our e-newsletters and other email updates to stay connected to the latest news in scholarships, higher education, college planning and website developments. At any point, users may opt out from receiving WiseChoice emails if they do not wish to continue receiving information from WiseChoice.
Is WiseChoice trying to do away with the need for college counselors?
Not at all. WiseChoice is an online resource that can certainly be used in conjunction with advice and guidance from college counselors. WiseChoice aims to provide a greater number of students with college access—and providing an online tool that is available to all students, regardless of location or demographics, can help us achieve that goal.
Does WiseChoice value high school counselors for college planning?
Yes. We have great respect for high school counselors. In fact, counselor input was integral to the design of our service. However, we recognize that college counseling is an extremely fast-paced profession, and so we want to provide online resources with up-to-date college and scholarship information to complement the services counselors already offer to their students. We also know that many high school guidance counselors are somewhat overburdened with high counseling loads and duties that pull them away from college advising. We definitely want counselors to consider the WiseChoice system as a resource that will help with the issues they are facing every day.
Talk to us
If you still have questions, we invite you to email us. Just be sure to include your name, title, organization or company name, and phone number so we can respond to you in a timely manner.