Tips for Finding a ‘Good Fit’ When Looking for a College
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 15, 2020
A college that’s a good fit for you should have the following characteristics.
Academic fit
You want to be challenged, but being in over your head is not helpful. Or, if your academic ability is much higher than other students, you may feel bored or out of place.
So look for colleges where your academic profile (i.e. test scores, GPA, class rigor) is similar to the profiles of other students. And if you are interested in honors coursework, make sure the college has a strong honors program.
Budget fit
With college, most students take on some debt. There may be a point, however, where excess borrowing doesn’t make sense because excessive loans can affect your financial health down the road. Try to cover as much of your college costs as possible with grants and scholarships.
Cost shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when choosing a college, but it should be considered. The less you have to pay for college, the better return you will get on your investment.
You should always compare colleges based on net price — what you and your family will actually pay, including for food and housing and transportation — rather than just the published cost of attendance. Depending on your financial circumstances and academic merit, the tuition might be different — possibly lower — than the published cost. Some colleges that look expensive might — at the end — cost less than a public, in-state school.
Location fit
A college that is a good fit will help you meet your goals.
If you know what you want to study, make sure the college offers your major. Research the program. Does it look interesting to you? Are there internships opportunities? Does it include research with a professor? Is it exciting and challenging and will it help you grow as a student and as a person?
If you don’t know what you want to study, look for colleges that are strong in the general field or area that you might be interested in — for example, science or foreign languages or teaching.
‘Feeling’ fit
A college should feel like home to you. Don’t downplay this aspect.
That sense of home may include geographic location, size/type of college, and its social atmosphere. Some students will also want to take campus diversity, sports, and distance from home into account. Only you know which combination of these things will make you happy there. Listen to yourself.
Campus tours are a great way to get a feel for a college. Consider visiting several. It’s also good to get information from current and former students. See what they are saying about their college online.
Faith fit
Some schools have wonderful Newman Centers where you can learn and socialize and grow in love of God. Others may have nearby parishes where students are welcomed. And some colleges will be a dry desert for students who want to practice and live their faith. Your faith life is a worthy consideration, and it can be a huge help and support to you throughout the joys and challenges of college life. 
Good fit
It can be really good to take a step back and consider all your options. A school might look good on paper but it doesn’t feel right for you. Maybe you’re not sure you want to go to college. 
Whatever your hesitations are, take time to look at all your options. It might help to visit all the schools where you’ve been accepted — even ones you previously ruled out — and talk to as many students as possible. From home, you can also check out the school’s social media groups to get a feel for the people and the culture. 
The more you know, the clearer your mind will be when it’s time to make a final decision. 
You’ll know it is a good fit when a school has just about everything you’re looking for and as long as it’s affordable, there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be a good place to call home for the next two to four years.
If you still are hesitating, try joining the school’s social media groups and visiting the campus one more time. Ask students about the specific issues that are causing you some doubts, and try to picture your day-to-day life on campus.
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