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Finding a "fit"


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We attended open house at a small polytechnic this weekend.

I'm not sure if my son realized it, but it's the place he fits most out of everywhere we've gone so far. Like completely.


I think he was more impressed by the dept at another very big state U college (but only barely) although they had a robotics club that he was drooling about. Big U was BIG, definately a party school, big into sports- not his thing.

(Although small school does do some high school robotics mentoring at least & were all for starting a college level robotics club)


But this small place... Every kid there was like him. Not sure that's entirely good?

And friendly, students came out of their rooms to introduce themselves and also met with kids interested in their departments/ put on demos, etc. (I'm sure there was incentive, but still)


So, my question- how do you recognize "fit"? What things did you consider? (Assume here that finances & academic offerings/ rankings are equal)

Edited by Hilltopmom
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Honestly: I think "fit" is completely overrated.

Students entering college may not know how they will respond to an experience they have not imagined. They may not anticipate whether the large school, or the big city, or the tiny school, or the rural environment, or the special quirks of a place will resonate with them in a special way and change their lives, give them opportunities, push them to their boundaries, let them find special friends and mentors.

I have had many experiences in life that I would never have sought out on purpose, but that ended up good experiences that helped me grow.

I believe students can thrive in many different environments if they are willing to make it work and take full advantage of what is offered.

Edited by regentrude
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With finances and academics equal, we looked at availability of undergrad research, fitness center that was available to nonathletes at reasonable hours, the local community, distance from home, makeup of student body, availability of musical ensembles for nonmusic majors,and how stressed the students were. I also looked at the outreach being done in the community and what the student union board was doing.


Its also really interesting to talk to transfer students...we met several at the various dept open houses. Ds's friends who want to transfer all cite academics and student life...looking for more serious students, people who arent so cutthroat that they refuse to form study groups, and less partiers, as well as more accessible profs.

Edited by Heigh Ho
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I think it's just a matter of priorities.  One of my dc would surely "fit" better at a small Christian college, but that dc has chosen to attend a large university very similar to what you described because the combination of competitive academics, location, and price outweigh dc's desire to find the perfect "fit."

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For my boys fit--and I'm talking fit assuming academics/finances are already a good match--has come down to a gut feeling. An "I would be happy spending several years of my life in this place" feeling. Given relatively equal choices, we've always encouraged them to look strongly at fit. Our feeling has always been that if academics and finances are a toss up then you may as well choose the place you think you'll be happiest. I totally agree with Regentrude that most kids can and will thrive in a variety of environments, and it really does seem that most kids end up anywhere from satisfied to ecstatic with whatever choice they make. But at the same time I don't discount gut feelings about fit. I've known enough kids who weren't happy with their initial choice and ended up transferring to discount it completely.


As far as things to consider for fit -- Of course that will vary from individual to individual. My boys looked at things like student body diversity and geographic location/setting (how far from home, overall weather conditions, rural/urban, etc.), whether it was a college town or not, how responsive the school staff had been to their questions and things like that.

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At the beginning of this process, my Dd thought she wanted a small LAC. After overnights, sitting in on classes, and dept meetings, she was adamant about not attending a small school. Why? She said small schools were claustrophobic and far less diverse in thought than really large campuses. She felt like she could find a group of friends better on a large campus with a larger variety of people compared to the smaller schools she had visited.


Fwiw, this is the sort of area where I stay completely out of the way and keep my thoughts to myself. They are the ones who have to attend and live with their decision. If all other things are equal, I want them reflecting on what they want and weighing their own pros and cons. Then if they don't like it, they pretty much have ownership over the decision that got them there.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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