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  • Writer's pictureKate Pedigo, M.Ed., NCC

College Search & Selection: Academic Fit


college students in lecture hall
Academic fit goes beyond college rankings.

Academic fit is a priority for most high school students and families during the college search process, but it can be hard to know which specific academic features to consider.


Many people turn to rankings or name prestige, both of which can be very subjective and rarely inform the public about important factors such as strong faculty, engaging courses, opportunities for internships or research, and post-college outcomes.


Here are some academic features to research that are more personalized and can help guide you toward best-fit colleges:


Major

Do you have an academic interest or major? Some colleges and majors

are best suited for students who are sure about their desired career path, and

other colleges can be great fits for students who are undecided or are

interested in a variety of subjects.


If you have a desired major, researching relevant programs and associated coursework at your schools of interest is an important step.


If you’re considering applying “undeclared”, you may want to research

schools with strong exploratory programs, or schools that offer flexibility

when it comes to switching majors.


Another important factor to consider is whether your school offers other

potential majors of interest should you change course. Ideally, you won’t have

to transfer to another institution if your plans change.


Degree

Are you looking to earn an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or

an advanced degree like an MS, PhD, JD, or MD?


Some colleges excel at facilitating a path to direct employment, others are a great foundation for continued education, and some are adept at both.


Curriculum

Do you prefer a semester, quarter, or single class system?


Is a general core curriculum, open curriculum, or a theme-based curriculum a better fit?


Do you have special curriculum needs, such as a college with no international language requirement?


Rigor

Academic rigor is also an important factor in choosing a best-fit college.


Do you perform best in a competitive or collaborative environment?


Is “work/life balance” important to you?


Do you like surrounding yourself with people with varied academic priorities and backgrounds, or is it important for you to be with people who share your academic priorities?


Is grade inflation/deflation important to you?


Acceptance rates and accepted student demographics

When narrowing your college list, be sure to consider the statistics that each school provides so that you can determine your academic compatibility and understand your odds of acceptance. Some schools may have a relatively high acceptance rate for example, but accepted students might also have very high GPAs and test scores on average.


Opportunities

Do you need academic accommodations/support, or want to have strong tutoring services on campus?


Do you want to complete a co-op or internship, be able to conduct research, join an honors program, or maybe study abroad?


Does the school offer robust career-planning services, such as resume and interviewing assistance, career fairs, etc.?


Life after college

Understanding a college’s success with facilitating a path to the workforce or advanced education is an important consideration.


Outcomes such as graduation rates, graduate school acceptance rates, and job placement rates can be very helpful information.


A strong alumni network can also be a helpful resource on a social and professional level.



At Growing2College, we help students and families evaluate their needs and priorities with respect to college search and selection, and guide them in the creation of a balanced college list.


Request a free 20-min consultation to learn more about how we can be helpful.


Kate Pedigo, M.Ed. NCC is an Independent Educational Consultant and founder of Growing2College. Join us on social media for college planning updates, tips, and resources: Facebook   Instagram   LinkedIn    



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