By Rajkamal Rao
We have stressed that many things in the online world - including our own website - continue to be excellent and free! As you prepare to apply to US colleges and universities, consider this list of world class resources, tools and links - all free.
- Google Docs - Place all of your thoughts and content in the "cloud". Google Docs is a great way to store and retrieve your assets in a secure manner from anywhere. You don't have to worry about saving files or backing them up. And you can have others review your work and provide comments. [This requires a Google account].
- raoadvisors.com - School selection strategies based on state economic and industry/ trends, branding, re-branding, schools list finalization, differentiating your application and following US trends. Also to organize and attend free town halls (minimum attendance: 100 students) to learn about our proprietary methods. [Some restrictions apply].
- EducationUSA.info - A website sponsored by the US Department of State to help you Complete Your Application; Finance Your Studies; Apply for Your Student Visa; and Prepare for Your Departure.
- Education USA local offices (for example, in Bangalore, Yashna Trust). Visitors to the center will receive one free basic advising session during which their background and suitability for education in the USA are examined.
- US News school rankings - although we are not big fans of school rankings, this is information a student should have. US News requires you to pay for full access which includes expanded profiles for schools, entering class stats, average GRE scores, research expenditures and college data, but all of this information is available through College Navigator (see 10 below) and the school's own website for free!
The only proprietary value US News brings is its rankings and luckily, basic information about these rankings is free. It is easy to copy and paste this information into a Word document for analysis. Click here for the latest engineering school rankings.
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics - for state unemployment reports.
- The US Department of Commerce - for GDP growth charts for US states.
- Wikipedia - for lists of real GDP of US states.
- Occupational Handbook page of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find occupations and industries in demand. Check out our Step 4 for details.
- College Navigator - There are many ways to search for schools and obtain information but we believe the best database of schools is maintained by the US Department of Education and is a superb way to initially identify schools. Within a few clicks you can set up your own custom searches and look for schools (both undergraduate and graduate) based on whether they are private or public; estimated tuition costs; and the campus location/setting. You can pinpoint school locations with an interactive map, export search results into a spreadsheet and save your session including search options and favorites.
- If you simply want a listing of colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational schools at the local, city and state level, including a Google Maps interactive feature, go to OnlineCollegesDatabase.org.
- Step 6 of Rao Advisors - to finalize a list of schools.
- Rao Advisors - for information about MOOC courses.
- Rao Advisors - for information about MOOC2 courses.
- Everything you need to know about tests - ACT, pSAT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL - all in one place. Also an excellent GRE score converter between old and new formats. If you are an undergrad and feel uncomfortable taking the ACT or SAT, check out this list of over 800 schools that make taking these tests optional.
- GRE Test Preparation tools - from Educational Testing Service, including POWERPREP® II, Version 2.0 Software to prepare for the Computer-based GRE revised General Test; Practice Book for the Paper-based GRE® revised General Test, Second Edition (PDF); Math Review (PDF); Math Conventions (PDF); An Introduction to the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE revised General Test (PDF); ETS® Personal Potential Index.
- TOEFL Test Preparation tools. For free TOEFL iBT® Quick Prep including practice tests, click here.
NPR reports that EF Education First, a Swiss education company, noticed that its students wanted an inexpensive, standardized way to test their knowledge before paying for official language tests for university admissions. In response, the company has released its own free, online standardized test.
You can improve your English-language reading skills by matching your TOEFL iBT® Reading Section score with a Lexile® measure from MetaMetrics®, creator of The Lexile Framework® for Reading. Lexile measures put the reading ability of people and the text difficulty of reading materials on the same scale.
Once you know your Lexile measure, you can use it to find books at your reading level. Knowing your Lexile measure takes the guesswork out of selecting reading materials that can help build your reading skills.
More than 115,000 fiction and nonfiction books have Lexile measures, and the list is growing all the time. The Lexile site has a searchable database of books with Lexile measures.
This service is free and easy to use! Click here for more information.
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