What Does “The Right Fit” Mean?

The Right Fit

In our last post the final statement we wrote was…”In the end, IECs work for the student and family to make sure that the process is seamless and that the right FIT occurs.” Well, what does that mean, “The Right Fit”?

Finding the right college and checking to see if it “fits” right is a lot like clothes shopping: the clothes might look great when you are looking at them through the window, but when you go in to try something on, it doesn’t quite fit. Sometimes, that piece of clothing just looks better on the hanger than it does on you. Making sure that the school you attend provides you with sound academic and social opportunities is imperative. In regards to these two areas, factors such as the availability of majors, internships, study abroad programs, and research opportunities may affect your academic satisfaction. In addition, there are other areas that might be of concern to you as well, such as: athletics, size of campus and class sizes, distance from home, Greek life, urban versus rural setting, etc. Granted that there is no such thing as the “perfect” fit, but it doesn’t hurt to see if you can get close. It’s better to find those imperfections now rather than $15,000-$60,000 later.

There are way too many stories out there where kids have gone off to college (whether it be in state or out) and are immediately wanting to go back home because of their discontent with the school. A lot of students come back saying, “I didn’t know that the school didn’t offer the program that I wanted,” or some even come back saying, “The campus just felt too big and impersonal. I didn’t like that I only saw my professor in lecture in a group of three hundred.” Some of these realizations could have been avoided if a little bit of research had been done.

Here are some things to think about when looking at colleges and figuring out if the school is the “right fit” or not. (This was taken from Judith Christie, a college planning consultant from Oregon.)

First, before you start your college search have a heart to heart talk with yourself along the following lines:
1. Think of why you want to go to college in the first place.
2. Think about what you expect from your college experience, socially and academically.
3. Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Now is the time for honesty – not the way you wish you were, but how you really are.
4. Think about what interests you and what you enjoy. Not what will make you a lot of money or what your parents want, but what gives you satisfaction.
5. Give some thought to what you don’t know and want to learn.

Second, look at the different colleges in a realistic way:
1. Arrange your priorities in a list of importance. What has to be right about the school and what can you, in your own mind, negotiate.
2. Keep focused on what is important to and for you.
3. Remember what is great about a school for one student may not be the same for another.
4. Look at colleges that meet your most important priorities and ones that offer the best chance that these priorities will be met – most of the time.
5. Look at the overall quality of the college or university. Don’t look at a college through a telescope but rather through binoculars.
6. If you are an athlete be sure that the college fits your needs beyond your sport.

Third, have a range of schools to pick from:
1. You may have a “first choice” because to you it is the “right fit”, but the truth is that there can be, and should be more than one “first choice”.
2. Your final list should contain colleges – be they reach schools, probable admits or safety schools in which you would be happy academically and socially.
3. The proof that there is not just one school for you is that statistics show that for most students the school they end up attending usually turns out to provide them with a very happy and successful college experience.

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