Getting into College Made Easy: How to Find the College that Fits You Best

Barry Lenson

Getting into College Made Easy: How to Find the College that Fits You Best

How to Find the College that Fits You Best  Lots of considerations come into play when you’re picking a college. You want a college that you can afford, a college that offers the program of study that you are looking for, and a college that has a good track record of placing graduates in jobs. But there is another critical factor too. It is known as “fit.” It means that you want a college where you feel at home.

Lots of factors come into play when you are trying to pick a college that fits you. You have to feel at home with the other students. You want a faculty that is oriented toward teaching and answering students’ questions. You also should be looking for a school with a setting that you like – be in in a city, in the country, or somewhere in between.  And then there are personal considerations. If you are deeply involved in a particular religion, for example, you might be looking for a college that offers a community of like-believers. Or if you are an environmentalist, a vegetarian, or a young conservative or progressive, you could be looking for a college where other students share your beliefs.

Yet even if you know specifically what you are looking for, it can be difficult to assess college fit before you actually arrive on campus. You are supposed to make an assessment of the school based on skimpy knowledge that you gained by looking at the college website or from taking a two-hour campus tour.

Yet there are ways to assess fit, even as an outsider who is applying. Here are some strategies and tools to get the job done:

  • Get off the beaten path and do your own campus tour. Once your “official” admissions tour ends, head to the student center or to a quadrangle so you can chat with current students. (Leave your parents behind so you can really connect with other students. Sorry, Mom and Dad!) You will be bound to hear about issues – some good, some bad – that are really on students’ minds at the school. As you walk the campus, you might also discover certain less-than-impressive buildings and facilities that the school has omitted from admissions tours.
  • Read the college newspaper online. They offer the latest campus news, and can alert you to concerns and issues that the admissions office won’t mention. Is there a problem with crime on campus, for example? Has mold just been found in the walls of a dorm? Or on the positive side, have students just convinced the school to open a new cafeteria that will serve locally sourced foods that are grown by local farmers? Visiting the college newspaper online can fill you in.
  • Check out the school’s Facebook page. They usually serve up a mixed bag of comments and information from alumni and current students. Do bear in mind, however, that Facebook pages can attract many more gripes than positive reviews of what a college is like.
  • Look for blogs that are written by students at the college. If you do a Google search for blogs that contain the college name, you can uncover them if they are there. For example, there is a Seton Hall Sports Fans Blog that lets fans of that university’s teams connect online.
  • Read reviews of the college online. At StudentsReview.com,  you’ll find reviews of hundreds of colleges, all written by students. Do be aware, however, that this site attracts a lot of extremely negative comments from unhappy students who seem eager to shoot down colleges where they had bad experiences. But the reviews are worth reading anyway. They can alert you to the quality of social life and local activities, and give you information that is hard to find elsewhere. One comment for a university in the northeast, for example, says, “Don’t even think of going here. There is no social life on weekends because everybody leaves campus and the nearest bar is a 30-minute walk from campus.” That is good information to have in advance – for sure.

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