Finding your college fit: self-assessment and fact-finding

It is true that your “right-fit” college or university should be one that promotes and grows individual student strengths, as Jason stated in his post, “Preparing to Navigate an Ever-Changing World.” Of the many steps to be taken to help identify which college or university will be that “fit,” two steps in particular stand out to me as the most impactful: self-assessment and fact-finding.

As an admissions professional who works with high school students and their families all year round and bears witness to the many nuances of the college search process, I am here to talk you through these two all-important steps.

First, get used to using and hearing the word “self.” You already heard me use it when I referenced self-assessment, and you may have read it in Jason’s post when he identified the need to feel free to be selfish while in the midst of your college search. To self-assess when it comes to the college search process means to be honest with yourself and others about your wants, needs, and values. This is the emotional part of your college decision. To self-assess also means to be sensitive to your feelings as you are exploring your postsecondary options—to “feel it out,” if you will.

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling I’m talking about, so pay attention to when you feel it—whether it is when visiting a college or university’s campus, cruising through its website, or anything else associated with your search—and when you don’t. It may not make sense, but you have to trust it.

Now, let’s talk about fact-finding. This is the nitty-gritty part of the search, the logical part of your college decision that can include online research, campus visits, and e-mail or phone exchanges with admissions offices. Your right-fit college or university needs to check most if not all of the boxes that you determined regarding your wants, needs, and values.

When visiting campuses, don’t leave with questions. Make it worth your time and trip. Keep a spreadsheet of the information you collect; compare colleges and universities and how they check your boxes. Be relentless in your pursuit of information.

I often call self-assessment the “heart” of the college search, while fact-finding is the “head.” The right-fit college or university will make sense to both.

Be sure to stop by our first Facebook Live in our “How to Become a Panther” series on Wednesday, February 13, at 6:30 p.m. This session will focus on helping prospective students navigate their right-fit college and what to look for in their future “home.”

Danielle Blondin is wrapping up her second year as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Plymouth State University, where she has been since graduating from Fitchburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications Media in 2016. She is originally from southern New Hampshire and currently resides about 8 minutes from the Plymouth State University campus. When not on campus, you can find her at Lake Winnipesaukee or recruiting new Panthers in central Massachusetts.