What do you want to do with your life? Have you grappled with that question? You aren’t alone. Help is out there thanks to The Princeton Review and PBS’ “Roadtrip Nation.” They’re on the Best Fit Colleges, Best Fit Careers Tour. It recently made a pit stop at Varina High School. You can read more about some of the advice they’re offering for High School students(and their parents) as they look at colleges and consider a career.
What should students look for when building their college list?
Finding a college that’s the best-fit should always be the guiding goal for students not only when building their college list but right through their final college choice. We break fit down into four buckets at The Princeton Review. (I’ve shared more background on each category below.)
o Academic fit
o Cultural fit
o Financial fit
o Career fit
Your Best Academic Fit:
This is probably the biggest of the four best-fit buckets. First and foremost, you
want a school that offers the major(s) and classes that interest you. Many students
have an idea of their major when they begin researching colleges, and a list of schools
with strong departments in your field of choice is a great place to begin the college
research process. If you’re unsure of your future academic track, don’t fret—you
don’t need to map out your entire career in your junior year in high school in order
to find your best-fit colleges and universities. Read up on course descriptions and
professor bios and look for topics and experiences that inspire you. Enthusiasm is
key for getting the most out of your academic experience.
Your Best Cultural Fit:
“Cultural fit” can be tough to define. In this category, I include some concrete aspects of college life: institution size, demographics, location (and weather, believe it or not), dorms, dining services, extracurricular facilities (like the campus gym or theater) and activities (like clubs, sports, or Greek life), and campus speakers and events. But this category can also include elements that are harder to quantify: how do you feel when you’re on campus, or checking out the college
community online? You don’t have to make a vision board of your college life, but you want to be able to picture yourself feeling comfortable on campus.
Your Best Financial Fit Financial:
Financial fit boils down to: Can you afford to attend this school? I never tell students to cross a school off their list solely because it’s too expensive—there is a lot of financial aid out there ($181 billion total aid was available in 2017, according to The College Board’s “Trends in Student Aid” report) and many different paths to pay for college. But when it comes time to commit to a college in the spring of your senior year of high school, it’s important to consider cost. So keep that pricey private school on your list, but apply to a “financial safety school,” too. That’s a college or university that fits you academically and culturally and that you know you can afford—look at public universities, where tuition is cheaper for state residents.
Your Best Career Fit:
In addition to making sure the schools you’re considering offer the majors and classes that interest you, I also recommend visiting or contacting the career development center at each. Find out how the school supports students in preparing for the professional world: do they offer resume writing workshops? Practice interviews? Networking events with alumni? If you foresee yourself in a particular field, location, or specific workplace, ask about past students’ track records of finding internships and entry-level jobs in those areas. College admission officers and career counselors are happy to highlight their institutions’ success stories!
You can read more about some of the advice they’re offering for High School students(and their parents) as they look at colleges and consider a career.