We've all had that experience of struggling to find the perfect pair of jeans. After searching for days, maybe weeks, we find what looks like the perfect ones....they look great on the hanger but once alone in the dressing room with nothing but you and the mirror, you realize there is more to your love (or not) of the jeans than the quality of the denim, the length, and the style. Ultimately, it's how they fit.
It's the same with college. Students research and read and google search to find what they believe to be the ideal college. They listen to adults and friends comment about what makes a college "good". They read US News and World Reports (which is not a good idea!) and troll College Confidential and often develop a very narrow list of only the most popular colleges. I recently heard the President of the organization Colleges that Change Lives speak at a local high school. She opened with by telling the students and parents that she told her staff she was visiting the Eastside of Seattle, speaking at Bellevue High School. Her staff looked at her blankly and asked, "Why are you going there? We've never heard of that school?" She asked the students if they thought their high school was a good one (it is highly ranked) and of course there was an enthusiastic cheer. She likened this to embarking on a college search - be open to learning about places of which you've never heard. Just because you've never heard of a school does not mean it isn't a good one, it just means you've never heard of it.
The perfect fit school transcends the clever anecdotal tales told by well meaning adults or the beauty of the buildings. A perfect fit school is not in a ranking system created by a magazine or an athletic league. A perfect fit school is found by trying it on for size - through a visit, a meeting, time spent getting a feel for the professors, fellow learners and campus. Often students have difficulty explaining just what is the detail that tipped the scale, but when they find it they know. While students often know what they like about a college, colleges look for a few key qualities.
At the Accepted Life we encourage students to dig deeper than the superficial. We know that the perfect fit school combines the intangibles of the environment along with the important details of academics, research opportunities, and course offerings.
Most families begin thinking seriously about college at the start of Junior year. For some students, who may believe they have already identified a career path, choosing a school based on a set of academic requirements will be an important factor in college selection. Interestingly, at least 50% of incoming freshman will change their major at least once before graduation - national averages indicate majors get changed at least three times! For most students, a good post-secondary plan includes a great list of schools that allow a student to have confidence in schools for which they are a likely match, a sound match, and a reach.
Developing a successful plan requires the most rigorous transcript possible as well as a sound plan for testing, college visits and research. When we work with you, we will do a comprehensive transcript review to make sure you are on track. We'll work with you to create a timeline for testing to include test preparation (with an outside agency) if that is necessary as well as plan for some college visits.
While important, a transcript is just the beginning of the process. Finding a match, likely, and a few reach schools requires students to dig deep and think about the type of school where they will be successful. There are many choices amongst the over 3300 colleges and universities. Choosing between big, small, private, public, research or liberal arts offers different opportunities which are not right for every student. We work hard to visit as many colleges over the course of the year as we can and do our own research to help your student understand the options and inform a decision about where s/he will be the most successful. Helping plan visits, mock interviews and helping with demonstrated interest complete the work we do.