Finding Your College Fit

What is college fit? It’s the idea that colleges are not one-size-fits-all. That some colleges are for you, and some just aren’t. That instead of worrying about attending the “best” college, you should instead be looking for the best college for you personally the one that has the perfect combination of elements that will let you thrive both academically and personally.

So forget rankings, ratings and what your parents and best friend have to say about the colleges you’re considering. When it comes time to decide which college is the best fit for you, simply ask yourself the following questions:

Will I be satisfied academically?

College is, after all, about furthering your education. A school is a good fit for you if it challenges you academically and offers degree programs and electives that interest you. But think, too, about what type of classroom environment you excel in, and choose a college that’s a good match in terms of class size, access to faculty and overall teaching philosophy.

Will I be fulfilled personally?

Your college career is about much more than the time you spend in the classroom. The activities and events you participate in and new interests you pursue round out your experience on campus and will likely be some of your most memorable moments from college. So look into what opportunities you’ll have for non-academic pursuits, and make sure they match with what’s important and rewarding to you.

Will I be happy socially?

Check out the social scene at the college you’re considering. Can you see yourself fitting into it? Think about how you’re likely to make friends through a Greek organization, athletics, or other campus organizations, events and traditions? Will you be surrounded by people with backgrounds similar to yours and even some familiar faces from high school or will you meet students from all walks of life and parts of the country? If you’re excited by the prospect of the people you’ll meet and the things you’ll do together, the college is probably a good match for you socially.

Will I be at ease on campus?

Everything from the size and location of a college to its political climate will affect how comfortable you are there. Many students thrive on a campus where they’re a bit out of their element, while others prefer to stick with something more familiar. Decide what’s best for you, and choose your college accordingly.

Ultimately, there is no magic formula for finding the right college fit. In fact, it’s very likely you’ll find several colleges that you can easily picture yourself attending. To decide between them, listen to your gut and rely on your instincts. But you should also learn as much as you can about each college you’re considering, spend some quality time on each campus and talk to current students. With a realistic picture of what life is like on campus, you’ll be as prepared as possible to decide if a college has what it takes to give you a happy and successful college career.