• The Facts on Fit
  • College Fit Is Important

What's Your College Fit, Academically Speaking?

Getting an education is your top priority in college. So how can you sort out what kind of academic experience you want to have?

What You Will Study

There's a big difference between choosing a college because it is strong in your major and choosing a college to help you figure out your major. Some colleges have intense four-year major curricula and expect you to dive right in to your studies. Others help you experience different fields, then choose a major.

How You Like to Learn

At many colleges, you start out taking large classes in lecture halls, perhaps accompanied by smaller discussion groups. At other colleges, your classes may be small, offering more personal contact with professors and more interactive and collaborative methods of learning.

Level of Rigor

Academics at highly selective colleges are typically extremely challenging, competitive, and fast-paced. If this academic pressure cooker is your idea of a stimulating learning environment, these colleges may be right for you.

But if you prefer less rigor, less stress, and more nurturing, there are hundreds of other colleges for you to consider. You can still get a fantastic education at these colleges without feeling in over your head.

Academic Opportunities

Perhaps you want to work with well-known instructors, participate in groundbreaking research projects, take on internships, or even study abroad. Maybe you prefer to integrate hands-on work with formal instruction. Make sure your college offers the academic opportunities you want.

The Student-Faculty Ratio

Many students want a low ratio of students to faculty. But the reported ratio may include:

  • Classes taught by graduate students
  • Part-time faculty
  • Faculty who teach no classes
  • Huge classes in popular majors
  • Small classes in less popular majors

Your Path to a Degree

There are alternative paths to earning college credit, such as internships, cooperative education, or volunteering. You might want to pursue a combined degree (earning two bachelor's degrees or a master's and a bachelor's degree at once). Look for colleges that have the paths you want.

Study Support

Be honest with yourself about how ready you are to handle the new rigors of college instruction. No matter how well you did in high school, the intensity and freedom of the college academic environment is likely to be challenging. Colleges can help by providing tutoring, study circles, accommodation for students with disabilities, and other support.

What's Next?

Use College Match to look up academic qualities at specific colleges, such as majors offered and average class size.

Look at some of the other articles on college fit, such as Should Your College Be Public or Private? and What's Your College Fit, Financially Speaking?