5 Things to Consider When Looking at Colleges

We know it may sound cliché, but “the right fit” is the guiding philosophy, motto and credo college counselors work every day to ensure their students realize at the end of what can be a daunting, anxiety-ridden admission process. The outcome is students who find and are excited to begin their post-secondary journey at a school that’s the right fit.

Finding the Right Fit

I work with many students and their families who have complex and complicated spreadsheets dissecting every facet of a college and university. For those who go that route, it may be the first step in the process.

I encourage everyone to make a visit and go for a tour. It can be difficult to get beyond the well-rehearsed spiel admission officers and student ambassadors deliver over the two hours of your campus stay.

You must open your heart and mind and “see if you can picture yourself” at the school for the next four years. It’s incredibly tough to do that in such a short period of time, but I often find that students need to listen to their gut and their emotions to see if they have that feeling. If it’s positive, then we have a great start. If not, hopefully you’ve learned something about what you like and don’t like in a college.

What is “fit?”

I will subscribe and endorse the idea of “fit” espoused by the vice president and editor of “The Princeton Review,” Rob Franek, who believes “fit” is a three-part evaluation process.

1 | Academic Fit
  • Does the school you are interested in have the majors you are interested in?
  • Is the level of rigor too much or too little?
  • Are there adequate research opportunities for underclassman?
  • Are there a strong advising support and resources?
2 | Cultural Fit
  • Do you enjoy living in a city or rural farmland?
  • Do you want Greek life and sports?
  • Are you conservative or liberal?
  • What’s the diversity?
  • Is it a male or female dominated population?
3 | Financial Fit
  • Can you and your family afford to go without overextending monies?
  • Will you be going into any level of potentially crippling debt?
Mr. Franek’s model is a great blueprint to guide this process. We wish everyone success on this journey so the next four years beyond Collegiate is intellectually, socially and spiritually fulfilling.

Michael Kaplan is the director of college counseling at Norfolk Collegiate, where he guides students and their families through the college process. Mr. Kaplan may be reached at mkaplan@norfolkcollegiate.org.

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