Colleges are like soft drinks.
If you’re old enough to remember The Pepsi Challenge, you will recall that while consumers bought way more Coca-Cola, in a blind test, they actually preferred the taste of Pepsi. So why buy Coke? Simple: they were more familiar with the name.
Your child has no doubt heard of UCLA, Stanford, Harvard. Without realizing it, this familiarity might form their subconscious list of “good” schools. When that’s the case, a student might understandably get invested in wanting to go to one of them and fear for their future if they don't get in.
We parents often have the same short list in our heads. Our anxiety is reinforced when U.S. News puts out its college rankings, elevating the most selective schools to the top of the heap. Its numbers reinforce our belief that there are only a few first-rate colleges. And despite the fact that we have no idea where the numbers come from or what they mean, our collective stomach muscles clench.
While it is commonly believed that Ivy League graduates enjoy greater success than others, research has shown that, except in the case of disadvantaged students, that is not the reality. As measured in terms of future earnings, it seems that, irrespective of where one went to college, talent, ambition, and drive determine an individual’s financial success.
What really matters in terms of future success is that a student goes to college, makes the most of it, and graduates. To that end, we believe that students and their parents should forget about the brand names and reputations. As students are unique creatures with their own emotional, social, and academic needs and preferences, it is vitally important that they look for colleges that will be a good fit for them. The goal is to find those places where an individual student can thrive.
So how do you find your best-fit colleges?
Ignore Rankings-They are not only bogus, but irrelevant. A college is only good if it meets the needs of a particular student.
Know Thyself-What are your interests? Strengths? Passions? A college that fits must nurture those parts of you.
List Your Must Haves-Take stock of your preferences and needs: location, size, housing, sports, campus activities, diversity, study abroad programs, internships, research opportunities, special needs support, etc.
Make Sure it Feels Right-What kind of a place is it? What goes on there? Who goes there? What’s the vibe? Will you feel comfortable in that setting?
Keep it Real-Choose potential schools based on your fit with their requirements. It’s okay to reach, but the real goal is a good match.
Find Your Best Learning Environment-Small classes vs. large lecture halls; liberal arts vs. career-oriented; individual vs. group study; competitive vs. laid-back; close learning-relationships with professors vs. blissful anonymity.
Keep an Open Mind-Don’t convince yourself that there is only one right school for you. In fact, there are many great choices for every student. You just need to know where to look.
Brand Names, Prestige, and the Importance of
"Thank you for helping me to receive the opportunity to go to such a great school. I appreciate your help more than you know!"
"Thank you for all of your help and support. I would never have been able to do it without you."
University of Pennsylvania
Class of 2021
"The BIGGEST heartfelt thank you. We dropped our daughter off at college today. University of Hartford. FULL RIDE. We truly believe that the help you provided her with was a significant part of this achievement."
-Tom and Cristina,
parents of Ruby
University of Hartford
Class of 2019
"I got into UCLA!!! I want to say thank you. I couldn't have done it without you."
Transfer to UCLA
Class of 2018
"My son applied to 13 schools. EVERY letter referenced what a great essay he had. I know if he hadn't worked with College Fit 360, that wouldn't be the case."
-Shari, mother of William
Washington University in St. Louis
Class of 2019
"What is cool and impressive is your commitment to the kids
and caring about them."
-Jan, mother of Jake
Taking a gap year
“I just heard that I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED TO WELLESLEY COLLEGE!!!!! Thank you so much for everything you guys have done to help me have the options that I have right now…”
Wellesley College, Class of 2018