Ask An Expert: How important is school fit?

January 28, 2015

​This week, our resident expert, Joie Jager-Hyman, founder of College Prep 360 and author of the acclaimed books Fat Envelope Frenzy and B+ Grades, A+ College Applications, answers the question:

How important is “fit” and how should an applicant determine whether a school is a good fit?

Joie: The term “fit” comes up a lot when talking about the college search—and rightfully so. Fit refers to the particular aspects of a college—academic offerings, size, location, price, political climate, Greek life, artistic offerings etc.—and whether or not these things feel right to you as a potential student. Some of these things are straightforward; it would be silly to go to a college that doesn’t have your major, for example. But it is also important to consider the campus culture instead of only looking at bullet points that can be found in a brochure. Think about it: a Chanel bag toting fashionista is just not going to be comfortable on a Birkenstock campus just like a freegan dumpster-diver might not want to spend his time at corporate recruiting events with frat boys. Yes, these are stereotypes. But they are helpful shorthand for understanding that college culture counts when making a good decision about your future.

To determine whether or not a school is a potentially good fit, you need to visit the campus. But how do you know where to start looking? That’s where your “priorities list” comes in. What are the things you really can’t live without over the next few years? (Make sure you have adequate financial aid!) What are the things that would be nice to have but are not deal breakers? (Maybe you can live without a sushi bar or an ice hockey rink?)

Selecting a college is a process of getting to know yourself and your priorities so that you can chose a school that will truly allow you to thrive. In my book, B+ Grades, A+ College Applications, I have tons of questions to help you determine your major and minor priorities. Here are a few to get you started…

[Next page: Questions About Location and Size]

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