How to Research the Best College Option for You
Fit versus Match – What is the Difference?
Match = your academic record is close to the average student that is accepted to a college. The easiest way to gauge this is your cumulative GPA and ACT/SAT score.
Fit = Your personal preferences and interests when it comes to the ideal college experience.
Mapping the Likelihood of Acceptance
A common way to plan college applications is to find an array of options that are attractive to you and fall into 3 categories, defined by likelihood of acceptance.
Colleges factor in much more than your GPA and exam scores but, as an initial gauge, you can start to categorize your college options based on your academic marks. For example, when you enter your GPA and ACT score, you will get an idea of your likelihood of getting in. For example, if your scores are above average, your chances are high. If you scores are average, it will likely take something else like your involvement in community service or high school sports, clubs or other leadership roles. If you scores are below average, you chances of acceptance are poor.
Sort by College Fit Based on your Personal Preferences
Some factors to consider:
Do you want to stay close to home or experience a different city or state?
Do you want to live in a City, a Suburb or the Countryside?
Size of the College
Do you want to go to a school with a large, medium or small student body?
Benefits of a smaller college:
- Student Community: most students will live on campus. The culture is likely to be strong.
- Outdoor activities: there will likely be unique recreation opportunities.
- Academic experience: professors are likely to be accessible and there will be opportunity to get to know you personally.
Benefits of a Suburban College:
- Convenient campus: often easy to access from a nearby city, and not as isolated as rural campuses.
- Community: usually a bigger campus and clearly defined. Students are likely to stay on campus and get to know each other.
- Entertainment: there will be lots of on and off-campus nightlife options
Benefits of an Urban College:
- Entertainment: there will likely be lots of nightlife, dining, and excursions possible off-campus.
- Diversity: urban campuses tend to have more culturally and racially diverse students.
- Job and internship opportunities: with lots of businesses and industry based in the city, you’ll have access to lots of summer work in your field of interest.
Every school has departments that are recognized by business recruiters as having high qualified graduates. For example, in our state of Oklahoma, OU, OSU and TU are all recognized for their engineering departments. OSU has an international reputation for its programs in the hospitality industry and OU for journalism. TU for geology. Stanford is recognized as having one of the best business schools in the world. Make sure the school you plan on attending has a well respected program for you chosen major so you know your degree will mean you will be highly recruited.
Diversity of experience is generally and important consideration for choosing a college. Most colleges actively recruit people from all ethnicities and economic backgrounds. But larger colleges normally offer a greater variety of diversity experiences.
Once you have decided on your preferences and entered them into your RaiseMe account, you can go to the filter options, rank for choices by their priorty to you and then search for colleges that are the best fit for you.
One you have narrowed your search to two or three colleges, try and arrane for a campus visit. Some colleges listed on RaiseMe offer airplane tickets to students and other expense reimbursement.
When you visit a campus you’ll be able to see:
- How the school is laid out
- How students interact with each other
- And most importantly, if you can see yourself there!
School breaks can be a great time to take a campus tour.
Login to your RaiseMe account to see which colleges offer a micro-scholarship for a campus visit!
Now Make an Action Plan!
Write down three actions you plan to take this semester to research college fit.