College-ratings competition is growing more crowded 2 magazines join ventures to publish student guides

August 04, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Until now, U.S. News & World Report and Money magazines have virtually held high school students captive with their ratings and rankings of colleges.

But later this month, Time and Newsweek may turn what has been a skirmish into a full-scale battle for the attention of college shoppers by publishing their own guidebooks.

There is money to be made, said Steven Barlow, a media industry analyst with the brokerage firm Smith Barney in New York, and demand for this type of information is increasing.

"The number of 18-year-olds in the population is beginning to go up at a steady rate, and five years from now it will go up at a higher slope," Barlow said. "People will buy more than one guide."

That, he said, could put a couple of million dollars into the pockets of each guidebook publisher.

Time magazine is collaborating with the Princeton Review and Apply, a software manufacturer. Newsweek has joined forces with Kaplan Educational Centers. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Washington Post Co.

Kaplan and Princeton Review are two of the leading firms that offer preparation courses for the Scholastic Assessment Test and publish test-preparation study books and videos.

The $5.95 Time-Princeton Review guide, a 220-page booklet called "The Best College for You," will include a "self-assessment quiz" to help students match themselves with a college. In addition, purchasers will receive a CD-ROM designed to relieve students of the drudgery of typing multiple college applications.

The Newsweek-Kaplan publication, a 200-page booklet called "How to Get Into College," will provide information about more than 1,000 colleges and universities, and also special material aimed at high school students. It will sell for $5.95.

Responding to the competition, U.S. News has moved up the publication date for its 300-page "Best Colleges" book from mid-October to the week of Sept. 9. And U.S. News' annual special section of the magazine, also called "Best Colleges," will appear Sept. 9. It will look at 500 colleges.

Money magazine -- in a move that may be a bow to its sister publication, Time magazine -- will not release a stand-alone book this year, but will publish "Your Best College Buys Now," a 45-page section of the September issue, which will go on sale Aug. 19.

The section will rank the top 150 colleges and universities based on "best value."

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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