College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
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IS THERE ONLY ONE When advising students about their college choices, one of the main objectives is to find the "good fit" or the "right match", but what does that mean and is there only one "right match" for you?

"Good fit" and "right match" mean that a particular college is a place where you feel socially and academically comfortable. The size, location, weather, level of diversity, degree of competitiveness, type of student, social atmosphere, all are factors that will enter into whether this is a "good fit" for you. The availability of majors, internships, study abroad programs, research opportunities will effect your academic satisfaction.

But let's be realistic, there is no absolutely perfect school - therefore there is no perfect fit or match. Every aspect of a school is not going to fit perfectly into your criteria. It just isn't possible that every classroom experience, every personal encounter, every faculty member is going to meet your ideal of your college experience. Does that mean there can be lots of imperfect matches? I think so. So what do you do?

First, before you start your college search have a heart to heart talk with yourself along the following lines:
1. Think of why you want to go to college in the first place.
2. Think about what you expect from your college experience, socially and academically.
3. Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Now is the time for honesty - not the way you wish you were, but how you really are.
4. Think about what interests you and what you enjoy. Not what will make you a lot of money or what your parents want, but what gives you satisfaction.
5. Give some thought to what you don't know and want to learn.

Second, look at the different colleges in a realistic way:
1. Arrange your priorities in a list of importance. What has to be right about the school and what can you, in your own mind, negotiate.
2. Keep focused on what is important to and for you.
3. Remember what is great about a school for one student may not be the same for another.
4. Look at colleges that meet your most important priorities and ones that offer the best chance that these priorities will be met - most of the time.
5. Look at the overall quality of the college or university. Don't look at a college through a telescope but rather through binoculars.
6. If you are an athlete be sure that the college fits your needs beyond your sport.

Third, have a range of schools to pick from:
1. You may have a "first choice" because to you it is the "right fit", but the truth is that there can be, and should be more than one "first choice".
2. Your final list should contain colleges - be they reach schools, probable admits or safety schools in which you would be happy academically and socially.
3. The proof that there is not just one school for you is that statistics show that for most students the school they end up attending usually turns out to provide them with a very happy and successful college experience.

Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants