Tag college search

Where will you fit in?

“Warm, welcoming, smart, and unpretentious– our university is filled with students who are driven to be the best they can be without striving to do so at the expense of others. They excel at allowing everyone to be comfortable with who they are, and not having to be a certain type of person in order to fit in.” 

Does this describe the type of college environment you want to be in?  Where do you fit in?  Which statement below describes you the most? 

  • I want a college where most of the students share my background and viewpoints. 
  • I want a college where some students have viewpoints and experiences different from my own. 
  • I want a college where many students have viewpoints and experiences which are unlike my own. 

Using your answer, look for the following when researching colleges: 

  1. What is the mix of undergraduate geographic diversity?  How many students are instate?  Outofstate?  International? 
  2. What is the racial/ethnic make-up of the student population?  Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Native American, White, other? 
  3. Where would you find students who share your spiritual beliefs/values?  Colleges have Hillel for Jewish students, MSA for Muslim students, Institutes for LDS (Mormon) students, and worship opportunities or spiritual centers for many other students.  Where will you find your group? 
  4. Is there Greek life?  How many students join fraternities and sororities?  Are there Greek houses on campus to live in?  Or not? 
  5. Do students play sports?  Varsity, club, or intramural?  Are other recreation sports (biking, running, hiking, fitness classes) offered/available 
  6. Do students share a common passion or commitment?  Does the campus lean toward a particular political culture?  Are there any unifying values that define the campus climate? 
  7. How is your living arranged?  Do all freshmen live on campus?  Are there special living/learning communities you can choose from, like sustainability, international studies, arts, engineering, etc.? 

As you read about colleges, review their websites, and take virtual tours, be sure to ask these questions.   Learn as much as you can about the student body of the college.  After all, you will spend the next four years closely connected to the students in your classes and the community you in which you live 

Learn More 

GuidedPath offers a great way to look at the social life of a college.  

  • Check out the Social Experience section of each college profile.  What are the influential groups on campus?  What is the international diversity?  What events are popular on campus Where do students hang out?  
  • Review the Fiske Guide description (if available).  How does it describe the student body?  What is the Fiske social rating? 
  • Search for schools where you would feel comfortable.  In the Guided Search, you can search by undergraduate size, freshman and all students in housing, international student population, the Fiske Social and Quality of Life ratings. 
  • View the ready-made lists.  Looking for a school with a sizable Jewish population? Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) There are social tagged lists for these categories. 

Take Action 

Make notes in the Discussion section of each college about the social atmosphere.  What do you like or not like?  The ultimate question is, “Would I fit in here?  If the answer is a resounding YES then you should add it to your My Colleges list. 

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What’s in a location?

How do you describe where you live?  City?  Suburb?  Country?  What aspects of your current location do you like or not like – and how far are you willing to go from home?  As you explore colleges, one thing to consider is the location of the college.  Location can make a significant impact on your college experience.  Think about where you want to go to school.   

Here are terms and definitions used in college “locations”: 

  • Major City: Population 300,000 or more: or within a 25-mile radius of a metro area. 
  • Small-Medium City: Population 75,000-299,999 or within 15 to 25 miles of a metro area. 
  • Large Town: Population 25,000-74,999 or within 10mile radius of a large town. 
  • Small Town: Population 5,000-24,999 or within 5mile radius of a small town. 
  • Rural: Population under 5,000, in or near a rural community. 

Things to consider related to location: 

  • Distance from home 
  • Nearest airport
  • Nearest large city 
  • Nearest outdoor experiences (beach, mountains, etc.)
  • Popular student gathering places on campus
  • Popular student gathering places off campus 
  • Nearest tourist attractions
  • Movies, shopping, restaurants, or other entertainment nearby
  • Employment/Internship opportunities
  • Your faith communityon or off campus

Be sure to explore all the options.  View the college website for virtual tours.  Check for info on the surrounding community   Most importantly, look it up on a map. 

Take Action 

Use the Guided Search to explore the location of colleges you are interested in.  GuidedPath offers search on location types.  Also check out: 

  • How many freshmen live on campus? 
  • Fiske Social Rating 
  • Fiske Quality Rating

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How do you measure your chances for admission?

my chances copy

How do you measure your chances of admission for any given college?  This is based on several factors.  Some factors are more objectively measurable in the college applications process than others.  The easily measured factors include: 

  • Your GPA 
  • Your tests scores on ACT, SAT, Subject Tests and AP.   

 Less measurable, but also important to your college application are: 

  • The quality (rigor) of your course schedule 
  • Your resume of activities, work, and other experiences 
  • Contributions you made to your community 
  • Your love of learning 
  • Your life’s experiences 

 Using Measurable Factors 

Check admissions data for each college on your list.  Look at the range of SAT or ACT scores, and GPA’s.  Your test scores will put you in one of three zones for the college: green, yellow or red. 

 What puts a school in your GREEN zone? 

  • your test scores are in the top 25% of students 
  • the college has acceptance rates of 60-100% 

 What puts a school in your YELLOW zone? 

  • your test scores are in the mid 50% range, along with most other students 
  • the college has an acceptance rate of 20-60% 

 What puts a school in your RED zone? 

  • your test scores are lower than the average scores at the college 
  • the college has a low acceptance rate (typically under 20%)  

 How many schools should you have in each zone? 

  • 1-4 in the GREEN zone.  These are your SURE BETS or SAFETY colleges.  For schools in this zone you can often expect to receive merit scholarship awards. 
  • 2-5 in the YELLOW zone.  These are your EXPECTED or TARGET colleges.  A majority of your college list should be in this zone.  It is your sweet spot for college admissions. 
  • 1-3 in the RED zone.  These are your REACH colleges.  This is where less measurable factors can be very influential. 

 Take Action
As you start building your college list, keep in mind the different zones.  You should have a balance of colleges from each zone on your list.  The My Chances tool in your GuidedPath can give you an idea of what zone your fall in for each school on your list.  Your ACT or SAT scores generate your My Chances zones.  If you haven’t taken the ACT or SAT yes, use PSAT or PLAN scores as alternatives to get My Chances zones. 

Follow these steps to check your zones: 

  1. Enter test scores from tests you have already taken into Guidedpath. 
  2. Explore college profiles, using GuidedSearch. 
  3. Click on My Chances in each college profile.

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Comparing colleges for quality

compare colleges

There are over 2800 four-year colleges and universities in the United States alone.  How do you search for and compare the qualities of a college?  The goal is to find a college that fits you and offers you a good value.  As you search the web and visit colleges, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What is the academic atmosphere like at the college?  Is it the right level for me? 
  • Does it offer my major?  What special highlights does the school offer in my major? 
  • What is student life like at this school?  Where would I hang out and with who? 
  • What is the cost of the school?  Can my family afford it? 

It takes time to explore and compare the quality of different schools.  Start early.  Make your list of essential qualities a college must have.  This will help direct your search. 

Take Action 

Here are some things you can do in GuidedPath to organize your search: 

1) Complete the Design A College Survey.  

2) Review My Matches.  We have already done the work to make matches for you using your: 

  • ACT scores 
  • SAT scores 
  • GPA (unweighted) 
  • Find My Spark College Style 
  • Fields of Study 
  • Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) 

3) Create a custom search.  Start with a My Match and add criteria, or start a search from scratch.  Once you have a search you like, you can save it.  

4) View the Fiske Guide ratings.  The Fiske Guide compares colleges based on the following criteria, using a scale of 1-5 stars, with 5 being the top rating. 

  • Academic: How strong are the academics at the school? 
  • Expense:  What is the cost of the school? 
  • Quality of Life: Overall quality of college life at this school? 
  • Social:  What is the social life like at the school? 

Using Guided Search, you can build a list of colleges that balances academic, social, and financial fit. 

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What’s your learning style?

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How do you like to learn?  Do you like to talk to the teachers, raise your hand and stay after class?  Or do you prefer to learn by being quiet, checking in with your friends, and blending in with your classmates?  This reflects your learning style.  Your learning style is an important thing to know about yourself as you do your college search.  Which of the following Learning Style fits you?

Learning Style 1

Do you:

  • Raise your hand in class to answer questions?
  • Talk to the teacher after class or before class?
  • Sit in groups and discuss material you are learning?
  • Prefer working on assignments or projects with a large group of friends?
  • Like to lead discussions in class?

Learning Style 2

Do you:

  • Sit in the back of the class and listen to the instructor?
  • Feel more comfortable working on your own on class assignments?
  • Not like to be called upon in class to answer questions?
  • Like sharing thoughts one-on-one with a friend or the teacher, but not as a large group?
  • Prefer to turn in written assignments or take tests over doing oral presentations?

If you are more comfortable with Learning Style 1, you are a Participant Learner.  If your style is more Learning Style 2, you are an Observant Learner.

  • Learn more about these different styles on this infographic:  What’s YOUR Learning Style.  Learn how to pick a college based on your Learning Style.

Take Action
Take the Learning Styles survey in GuidedPath to learn more about how to match your study habits to your learning style.  

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What is college fit?

what is college fit

You have probably heard this term a lot already. Your counselor talks about it, your parents are looking for it.  What is it? What is college fit?  

Think of fit as a picture of college that brings four elements together to make the best fit for you. Consider Academic, Social, Physical and Financial perspectives.  

Academic:  Does the college offer the major or special academic programs that interest you?  If you are undecided about your major – does the college offer a wide variety of programs and do they provide opportunities to help you discover your academic interests?  What if you change your major during your time as an undergraduate (many students do)?   

Social: Will you find “your people” at this school?  What does the student population look like in terms of racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity?  Are there clubs, social activities, political or religiously affliated groups, sports/recreational options, student centers or other places to help connect you to students who are like minded?  Are there options for you to learn from students who have backgrounds and life-experiences different from your own?   

Physical:  Where is the campus located and what type of environment is the campus in?  Urban, suburban or rural?  Is the campus well-maintained, does it feel safe, what is the surrounding neighbor like?  

Financial:  What is the cost of attendance (not just tuition, but also room, board, books, supplies, fees, etc.)?  Does the school offer need-based financial aid?  Who qualifies and how much do students typically receive?  What about merit-based scholarships?    


Remember – YOUR best fit may not be the same as the best fit for your friend or your older sibling.  Find the right combination that will make your college experience meaningful for you. 

Take Action 

Record your thoughts and notes about each school you are considering in GuidedPath.  Use the Discuss tab under each school on your My Colleges or Interested Colleges list to write your notes.  Be sure to mention each of the four areas of fit – Academic, Social, Physical, and Financial.  

Your parents can join the conversation, adding in their thoughts too. 

Go to GuidedPath’s Guided Search and look at the My Matches results. You can use these as a starting point to create your own custom search for schools that could be a good fit for YOU! 

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