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College Search Blog Series #1: The First Step in Exploring Colleges

For the next few months, our blogs will be dedicated to the college search process. Stay tuned as we highlight key resources to use, the variety of ways to explore colleges, and so much more.

Before you start jumping onto college websites, reading about different colleges, and making a big college list, it is important to take a step back and connect with what you are really looking for in a school. As you move into the college admissions process, you will frequently hear the word “college fit.” Starting your college search process by exploring what makes a good fit college for you is the best place to start. Reflecting on your needs, desires, and non-negotiables will help you determine the best fit.

Start by reflecting on the following questions:

  • What are your reasons for wanting to go to college?
  • What are your personal, academic, and life goals? Does going to college match with your goals?
  • What are your personal and academic strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you have an academic passion that you want to study in college?
  • What are you looking for in a college?
  • Can you describe your ideal college environment?
  • What do you like most and least both academically and socially in high school?
  • What is missing at your high school that you want to have in college?
  • Do you learn best in small classes where you can be part of the conversation or would you prefer to be more anonymous and take in what the professor is saying?

Define Your College Fit

Here are some factors to think about as you determine the most important aspects for you in the right fit college/university:

  • Academics: Academic rigor, majors, minors, academic programs, faculty, support services, academic requirements/curriculum, research opportunities.
  • Cost: Can you and your family afford the cost of college? Do you need merit-based scholarships that are offered at colleges? Will you qualify for need-based financial aid?
  • Size: What size school are you looking for? Does size matter to you?
  • Location: Geography, access to transportation, distance from home, physical environment on-campus and surrounding areas, campus setting, urban, suburban, rural.
  • Diversity: Diversity of the student body, faculty, and surrounding areas of the campus.
  • Weather: Do you need a particular climate in order to thrive?
  • School Culture: Attitude of faculty and students, school spirit/pride, types of people, school traditions, feeling of the school – laid-back, intense, competitive, active student body, etc.
  • Campus & Student Life: Student activities-involvement of the students and contribution to the school community, social life on- and off-campus.
  • Housing: Would you prefer a more residential campus where most students live on-campus 3-4 years or a campus where you can move off-campus earlier in your college career?
  • Selectivity of Admission: Do you met the admissions and academic requirements? Will you thrive academically and socially at the school?
    Connection to the Real World & After College: Internship opportunities, job placement, study abroad, graduate school placement, alumni connections.

After you have discovered your top fit factors, then you can move into exploring colleges that offer the best fit for you. Stay tuned to next month’s blog, “College Search Series #2: 3 Steps To Start Your College Search.”

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