Posted on Oct 3rd 2018
There will be many conversations between you, your counselor/advisor, and your parents while you are making your college list and narrowing it down to your final selection. Surely, by now, you have heard the term "College Fit." So, what exactly does it mean? A good college fit is based on the characteristics of a college that is going to meet the student's needs and wants in the areas of academics, financials, and campus culture. Read on for advice from our college application consultants.
It is very important to do your research on the academic programs of a college or university. You need to know if they offer the academic program you are wanting to study. If you are not sure what you want to study, you need to find schools that cater to that approach. There are some schools require a declaration of a major as a condition of admittance.
Not only do you need to think about the program you want to study but you also want to find out what academic resources you will have access to. The resources available can make you a more successful student and also provide you with opportunities in your future career. There are many resources on college campuses and they vary from campus to campus but here are a few of the ones that you will see at most colleges:
- Honors or leadership programs
- Research opportunities
- Career center
- Tutoring and writing centers
- Accommodations for a learning difference
- Study abroad
You want to make sure that you are also looking at the academic stats of the students at the college. You do not want to be in a place where you are struggling to keep up with your peers, because this can be a recipe for disaster, burnout, and a highly stressful situation. This could lead you to drop out. On the hand, you do not want the college you attend be a cake walk and you become bored. You want to find that middle ground where you will be successful yet academically challenged.
When starting to build a college list students and parents should have a talk about what the family can realistically afford to pay for the cost of college. Make sure you understand the financial cost. Before ignoring a college because of the high sticker price, you should investigate the financial options available at the college. Other details that you want to know are: How long does it take the average student to graduate? What programs can a student participate in that will offer additional scholarships? Will financial aid be in place for the entire time you are in college?
The financial part of planning for college in many cases can be the most stressful and misunderstood. Although that is the case you must find colleges that are a financial fit. If you do not make it all the way to graduation because you cannot afford college, or you are in so much debt that it guides your life choices or leads to financial insecurity later in life you will not have made a good financial decision. The key is to do your research. You can spend countless hours doing your own research on this topic, but also engage in conversations with professionals, like Ducerus, that deal with helping families figure out how to pay for college.
While the academic fit is extremely important the campus culture is just as important. The campus culture is made up of things such as:
- Campus location, setting, and size
- Extracurricular and social activities
- The makeup of the student body
- The atmosphere of the campus
What is on your list? What is important to you? You may have to be flexible in some areas, so you need to decide which things are non-negotiable. What is going to make you feel comfortable on campus and feel like you have a sense of belonging?
You may have heard people say that college is the best time of their life. That is true for many people, but what makes it one of the best times of their lives are the experiences and connections that they gain. The way to discover if the campus culture is a fit for you is by visiting college campus when the student body is active, participating in a tour and visiting with current students.
Finding your college fit is going to require some research on your part but is well worth your time and energy to find colleges that will work for your needs and wants. When creating your list do not let the college rankings get in your way. There are many colleges in this country where you can get a great education. The value in the education you get will essentially come from you finding the colleges that are a fit for you in all areas.