Finding Good Fits

finding a college that fits

Some Factors to consider in preparing a college list include:

  • Size
  • Academic rigor and selectivity
  • Environment (urban, suburban, rural)
  • Location and distance from home
  • Climate
  • Majors (if known)
  • Style of teaching:  large lectures vs. smaller discussion classes
  • Sports: playing and/or spectating
  • Other extracurriculars such as fraternities, clubs
  • Diversity
  • Other specific resources (e.g. for disabilities)
  • Cost and financial aid

How to Figure Out What You Want?

  • Assess your interests and preferences (JGossels College Consulting has tools to help with this).
  • Try some colleges on for size!  Visit nearby schools to get an idea of what you like and dislike, even if you aren’t interested in those specific schools.
  • Write it down:  Think about a college you love (if there is one).  List features that draw you to it.

Some resources to help

  • Fiske Guide to Colleges by Edward Fiske (book)
    According to Amazon: “ …leading guide to more than 300 colleges … delivers an insider’s look at the academic climates and the social and extracurricular scenes at the ‘best and most interesting’ schools in the U.S., plus Canada and Great Britain.”
  • If your school has Naviance, this should be your first stop.  You can search for colleges based on criteria you establish. The site will also give you statistics about how your academic credentials compare to other students’ in your own school with respect to admissions at each school. (Note: Your school must subscribe to this service for you to be able to gain access.)
  • From the National Center for Education Statistics, build a college list, make side-by-side comparisons, use an interactive map, and arrange colleges on a spreadsheet.
  • The College Board site has a wealth of information about college search as well as other aspects of the application process

A Word About Rankings

A significant portion of US News rankings are subjective (based on peer and high school counselor evaluations).

Colleges sometimes “game the system,” misreporting statistics, capping class sizes based on US News standards, using test-optional statistics, etc.

Some colleges refuse to participate and don’t provide information to US News, but are ranked anyway.

MOST IMPORTANT: No ranking methodology prioritizes YOUR list of important factors.