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The phrase “college fit” has been bouncing around for a while and in the craziness of application season, it sometimes is forgotten. Many students and families get wrapped up in the frenzy of rankings, myths, school names, where their best friend is going, etc… and often miss the importance of searching for a college that “fits” the student. Many important factors go into finding a college that fits.
Spending most of my career in the college admissions side, I often spoke to students whom I knew would not be a good “fit” for my institution. Of course, you want every student that you come in contact with to fall in love with your school. You try hard to make what they are interested in a reality for your institution. This cannot only hurt your institution, but the student. Colleges are not only concerned with application numbers and meeting their enrollment goals, but also with the retention of first-year students. They strive to not only enroll a student, but also to have that student graduate in a suitable amount of time.
With more than 3,800 colleges in the U.S., this task can seem overwhelming. Students need to start this process by exploring who they are, who they want to become, and what they want out of their college experience. Once this is determined, they can focus on exploring colleges that meet these goals. What fits for one student may not fit for another student. There are many opportunities for students to learn more about their personality, career interests, and college majors to help in the process for finding their fit. Leigh Anne Spraetz and I offer these assessments through our testing and counseling process at Academic Futures, Inc. at The Summit Counseling Center.
One of the most important factors in deciding on which college fits the student is the campus tour. Hearing from college recruiters and reading information online is one thing, but actually putting yourself in the campus environment can be entirely different! The visit allows you to “try on” that college for the day. Can you see yourself here for the next four years? Is it a comfortable distance from home? Is it a financial fit for you? Do the current students seem to be people you want to surround yourself with for the next four years? Does it offer the academic environment and extracurricular activities you are looking for? You can hear from alumni and current students about how great their experiences have been and how much they love their institution, but the choice is yours. Make sure to visit more than once and see the campus in its different seasons. Does it fit you and what you want out of your college experience? In the end, if you take the time to explore these factors, you will know which college fits you!