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What Is Your Ideal College?

female student on college campus

Do you think you know what your perfect college is like? Or have you no clue? Either way, giving it careful thought is essential.

You might have heard that there's an "aha" moment when you realize a college is just right for you. That feeling does not arrive out of the blue. It comes after you have explored the many aspects of college life and learned which qualities will support and inspire you during your time on campus.

Why College Fit Is Important

A college that "fits" you will not only support your academic goals but it will also give you a compatible and stimulating physical and social environment. You have a good chance of thriving at such a college and are more likely to stay until you graduate.

Find Out What Makes Colleges Different

As you begin your college search, get acquainted with the qualities that set colleges apart from each other. Colleges vary dramatically in academic rigor and focus, types of students, campus setting, affordability, and in many other aspects.

Consider which variations will support your goals, suit your personality, and challenge you to grow in new directions. Your ideas will probably change as you find out more about colleges, but engaging in a thoughtful process now will get you off to a good start.

How to Identify Your Personal College Fit

Defining a good college fit takes research. Not the kind of research you do for a term paper, but a combination of visiting colleges, talking to people, researching facts, and consulting with your counselor and parents. Eventually, you will know enough to recognize a good college fit when you find it. Bear in mind that there is probably no one perfect college. In fact, there are likely to be more than a few colleges that will suit you well.

How to Know When a College is "Right"

In the end, of course, an ideal college is not just a bunch of factors. Many students say that the moment they realize a college is a great fit, it's as if they have discovered a new home. Such a college should:

  • Give you an academic program that serves your goals
  • Provide instruction that works with how you like to learn
  • Offer a level of rigor appropriate for your preparation and aptitude
  • Offer you a community in which you can thrive
  • Value you for what you have to offer

When all the pieces come together, it's just as much a heartfelt insight as it is a logical decision.

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