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]

Browse Successful Application Files

jpm13
Rochester ‘20


Accepted to Rochester, Rutgers, Fordham, College of NJ, Drexel

Hey! I'm a freshman at University of Rochester Class of 2020 interested in double majoring in Biology and Spanish, eventually applying to med school. I'm passionate about studying science, doing research and learning new languages.
Jwhitty32
UChicago ‘20


Accepted to UChicago, UVA, Purdue, GA Tech

If you're looking for that ray of hope that someone unspectactular might get lucky, you came to the right place.
rfkoerner
UMich ‘20


Accepted to UMich, GA Tech, Case, Michigan Tech

I am a hard-working, motivated student, athlete, and performer who enjoys having fun on the side.
yuzhushi
UMD ‘20


Accepted to UMD, JHU, Duke, Case, Swarthmore, Penn State

I am a recent high school grad about to enter my first year of college at the University of Maryland: College Park with a full Banneker/Key scholarship.




New Posts

Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
September 17, 2018

Drafted your personal statement and ready to get started on your supplemental essays? Here are the supplemental essay prompts for Dartmouth College.Dartmouth College requires two additional pieces of writing on top of the Common...

What You Need to Know about Athletic Scholarships
What You Need to Know about Athletic Scholarships
September 14, 2018

For many families, the only way to afford a college education is for their student to receive some financial aid. An athletic scholarship is one way that can help lower the price. Here’s what...

Still Figuring Out What School to Apply To?
Still Figuring Out What School to Apply To?
September 12, 2018

The school year is already in full swing. What if you’re a senior who hasn’t yet decided on a final college list? Don’t panic. Let’s get started. If you’re a...

Freshman Year: My First Weeks at Cornell University
Freshman Year: My First Weeks at Cornell University
September 03, 2018

As many of your are settling into your first weeks at college, we thought we’d ask our College Admits how their first weeks at college were. Here’s a reflection from JerBear, a Cornell...

Load More Posts