Finding The Best College Fit
Finding the right “college fit” can make the difference between achievement and failure.
UCA matches each student to potential colleges based upon student abilities, preferences, the colleges' curricular structures, and the overall environmental influences.
Academics means more than just rankings or reputation. UCA considers the teaching methods used by each college and looks for environments that match our clients’ learning preferences. Is the student an audio, visual, kinetic, or interactive learner? Does the student need more guidance in selecting classes, or can the student thrive without limits? Is the student ready to pick a major and career before entering college, or is a year or two of exploration valuable?
Extracurricular activities can both inspire and teach. For example, if a student wants to be a journalist, working on a college newspaper is a tremendous learning opportunity. Some schools emphasize robust student activities and outside-of-class learning; others are more classically academic.
A school’s location will provide influences and opportunities that can inspire a student, both on-campus and off-campus. If you want to study medicine, recognize that a location with more hospitals and doctors provides more opportunities for shadowing, research, and internships. If you wish to study business, consider a college in a major city; nothing beats NYC for finance opportunities. If you want to learn about politics, there are great universities in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas such as Virginia. Yet don’t forget that an environment can also inspire. Those who love the outdoors may wish to study at a school that has winter sports, hiking, or fishing nearby.
A college’s student body is perhaps its most influential learning asset. Bright students who live together and share ideas educate each other. Does the school tend towards like-minded thinkers (like technical schools) or admit students with truly diverse academic interests? Does the college strive for geographic and cultural diversity, or are the students more similar in experience? Can the college house the students together for all four years, or do students spread into their own apartments? Is there a supportive social structure?
Each of these factors plays a role in the development of the student inside and outside the classroom. In recommending colleges to our clients, UCA considers the entire college environment, from selectivity to cost and alumni networks. During the Guided Self-Analysis phase of our CAM Protocol, we learn about each student’s learning competencies and personal preferences. We then suggest colleges that might be a good fit, and we show our students how to research the colleges themselves through the analytical study of websites, tours, social media, and other materials.
Although we have access to conventional college search software, UCA relies upon our own proprietary database of approximately 200 American universities. The most important factor for inclusion in our database is on-time graduation rate. To learn more about each of these schools, we analyze their digital presence, printed materials, and slide presentations, outlining each to find the common threads that define a particular college. We then interview alumni of the college, looking for “off the record” information and personal experiences that corroborate and provide depth to our research. Finally, we interview college admissions representatives and ask direct questions to understand what each college provides and what it seeks in its applicants.
College fit is more than just "It is highly-ranked" or “I love it!” Picking the right college can be the difference between lifelong success and hardship. At UCA, we believe in promoting achievement.