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

College Search & Selection: Geographic Fit

Map of colleges

Geographic fit can be just as important to consider in the college planning process as academic, social, and financial fit.

As students plan their new college adventures, here are several geographical considerations to discuss:

Distance- Some students appreciate the security of being able to get home easily for visits, or receive in-person help from family during emergencies or illness. Other students are excited about beginning a new life in a completely new location and being more independent.

Some schools may be within a comfortable driving distance, or maybe train/bus travel is feasible. In other cases, air travel makes the most sense, but distance/means of transportation to the airport, travel cost, and access to direct flights are all worth considering.

Region- Often, students like to search for colleges in particular regions of the US, like the Northeast, Midwest, or South. Sometimes Canada, European countries, or other regions of the world are also in consideration. It may help to discuss WHY particular regions are favored over others.

Weather- Sometimes students select colleges based on weather. Ability to experience snow or all four seasons may be a factor. Warmer weather is also a popular choice. Depending on the student's weather preferences, it's worth discussing topics such as desired outdoor activities, humidity, potential for extreme heat/cold, prevalence of sunny vs gray skies, and weather hazards such as tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes.

State and local laws/political climate- It is helpful to understand the laws and politics of the state, local area, and the school itself and discuss whether those factors are of particular importance. Keep in mind that the politics of a state and the political climate of a local area or school can differ from each other.

Local geography- Preferences for an ultra-urban, urban, college town, suburban, or rural campus are important considerations. It helps to learn about the off-campus activities in the area, such as access to restaurants, outdoor activities of interest, job/internship opportunities, and nightlife, and whether those are walkable or require a car.

Campus configuration- Some colleges are relatively compact without much green space, and others are very large and even provide shuttles to get from class to class. Some campuses are very hilly and may have a lot of stairs. Some may offer classes in more than one campus location. Others provide tunnels and skybridges between buildings to keep students warm in the winter months. For some students, campus architecture might be a consideration as well.

Geographic fit encompasses many factors, such as distance, region, weather, politics, local area and campus geography. Keeping these factors in mind can be very helpful in the college search process.

At Growing2College, we help students and families evaluate their needs 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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