About CollegeQuest

This guide is a trip planner for high schoolers about to strike out on the college search, not that young-at-heart mature age students won’t find it useful as well. Where you live geographically during your four-year stint is no small consideration, the reason the atlas’s road maps (all with a state’s four-year colleges and universities clearly spotted) are just the core of this unique helpmate.

First off, “What Your style?” lists draw attention to schools well-suited for beach lovers, golfers, and even spelunkers before segueing into the social and academic aspects of campus life.Then, lively profiles of more than a hundred college towns give you an idea of what they might be like were you to end up spending four years or more there. Special indexes guide you to colleges and universities in locales ranging from urban to rural, with all of the 1,700-plus schools linked to a state-by-state Directory of Colleges and Universities.

Most college guides focus on the who, what, and when. This one’s about the where of the schools that may fit you best – so peruse the pages, see what you think, and follow the highway to what may well be the college of your dreams.

— Page 3, CollegeQuest: The Right Place Guide to Colleges & Universities MapQuest/AOL, 2006)

What’s Your Style?

Attention, Run It By Fred visitors: This is not an excerpt; rather, it is an intro to the following gallery of the illustrated “What’s Your Style” lists in CollegeQuest, which MapQuest/AOL hired me to conceive, map out, research, and write in 2004. I chose to open the guide with these compilations of a dozen colleges tailored to a student’s wishes and needs, be they for great dorms, student diversity, or a thriving (or nonexistent) fraternity/sorority culture.

If you take issue with the choice of schools in the 62 lists (and who won’t?), remember that the lists are more than a decade out of date. Also know that when deciding which school went where, I consulted numerous print books and online Top Ten lists on various aspects of college life. (Note: The numerals after a school’s page numbers refer readers to its basic info in the Thomson Peterson-supplied Directory of Colleges & Universities and wherever else the school appears in the guide.)

Two things you’re unlikely to question are Susan Welt’s superb design and Barbara Pollak’s imaginative illustrations.

Design by Susan Welt. Illustrations by Barbara Pollak.


The limestone-and-live oak character of Austin is enhanced all the more by the city’s inviting blue lakes and steep hills. Austin lies far enough south for royal palms and bougainvillea to accent the greenery lining its byways, and thousands of acres of parks and preserves have been set aside for recreation. In fact, on some bike and hiking trails you see constant reminders that the famously scenic Texas Hill Country, land of stony green rivers and wildflowers, is only a hop, skip, and a jump away.

While the city has tripled in size over the past four decades, central Austin – anchored by the imposing State Capitol and the red tile-roofed buildings of the University of Texas – retains its laid back, eclectic personality: sophistication clothed in a “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirt. To top it off, Austin’s reputation as a live music capital grows stronger with each passing year.

College students, including those from St. Edwards University, Huston-Tillotson College, and Concordia University at Austin, aren’t necessarily the driving force behind the music scene or anything else that makes Austin Austin: More graduates choose to stay put than in most college towns, and perhaps it’s their collective inner undergraduate that helps keeps the city vibrant and young at heart.

PLACES TO GO  Barton Springs, claimed to be the best swimmin’ hole in Texas – 1,000 feet of shimmering turquoise water that stays at a brisk 68°F year-round. Sixth Street, where music pours out the doors of clubs and cafés housed in old native limestone buildings. The massive, white marble Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, set on a hillside on the edge of the UT campus.

THINGS TO DO  Chow down at hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex cafés or follow your nose to one of the tortilla factories in East Austin for fresh warm tortillas and other Mexican staples. Take in the sounds of the South by Southwest Music Festival, the annual March blast that draws artists from far and wide. Ply the blue waters of Lake Austin or Lake Travis in the shadow of rugged limestone bluffs. At dusk, stand on the banks of Town Lake to watch bats nesting under the Congress Avenue Bridge swarm skyward for their nightly feeding, a spectacle that can last for an hour.

GREAT ESCAPES  Fredericksburg, a picturesque Hill Country town founded in 1846 and famed for its old stone houses, German bakeries and wursthouses, and antique shops. Enchanted Rock, a climbable 500-foot- high pink granite dome dominating the surrounding Hill Country landscape. Bandera, “Cowboy Capital of the World” and the site of an authentic small-town rodeo held two days a week during summer.

 — Pages 70–71, CollegeQuest: The Right Place Guide to Colleges & Universities (MapQuest/AOL, 2005)