Finding Colleges That Fit
Match the student and the college
It's not just a matter of encouraging your students to apply to college. You have to help them determine which colleges are the best fit for their own needs.
With more than 3,800 colleges in the U.S., your students' options for higher education are many. You need to help them narrow the choice. The question students need to ask is not "Which are the best colleges?" but rather, "Which are the best colleges for me?"
Factors to consider
No matter how wonderful a college may be, if it doesn't offer a major in chemistry, the president of your science club probably won't be happy there. Likewise, the basketball center won't get a scholarship if there is no team.
Distance and expense are also factors. When visiting home costs $500 in airfare, most students can’t afford to make the trip. Consider how important family and other local support systems are to each student's success, as well as the savings gained from living at home and commuting.
Whether it's a large public university in your own state, a small private liberal arts college across the country or a community college that's close to home, the correct choice depends on the student.
Focus the search
You are in a unique position to guide your students to colleges that allow them to develop their talents and prepare them for rewarding careers.
The best way to do that is by encouraging research. First, your students need to determine who they really are and what they want. Then, they need to explore colleges that help them reach those goals — and are within their financial grasp. Read more in Helping Students Research College and Helping Families Research College.
There is no substitute for firsthand experience. You have a lot of information right in your own community:
- Expose students to potential colleges to attend.
- Introduce them to peers currently enrolled in college.
- Arrange for your students to spend a day on campus, auditing courses.
- Have teachers, counselors and other staff members share college experiences.