What Matters to You? Making the Right Choice

College fit goes beyond university amenities and famous faculty

A monotone puzzle.

Congratulations on your offer of admission! It’s time to talk fit again. But fit takes on a different meaning this time. Fit is more than what the university of your dreams has to offer when it comes to location, campus amenities, and famous faculty. Instead, fit is also about the things that are going to inspire, challenge, and motivate you every day on campus. Fit is about what matters to YOU. 

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t exciting to think about all the fun that comes with attending NYU. The excitement of Drag Bingo, the cool NYU swag, and the flashiness of New York City are just some elements that attract students to apply. But when all the shininess of Welcome Week wears off, you want to make sure that the school you’ve chosen still inspires you. You want to be sure that the school you committed to is a community that you’ll be proud to be a part of, even on the roughest of days. How can you ensure that? By deciding what matters to you. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some questions that might help you figure it out.

Your Learning Style

Do the classes and experiences offered accommodate my learning style?

Some students learn by reading and listening to theory. While others prefer a more hands-on, experiential approach. What do the schools you’re considering have to offer? Are there opportunities for students to take on internships and field experiences? Or does most of the learning take place inside the classroom? Does this matter to you? This is a very important question to consider. And one that might make the difference between finding a good school and finding the right school. If this is important to you, you might want to speak to a school adviser to explore all the possibilities. 

A student working on their laptop.
Student sitting in a library, reading a book, and smiling.

Getting the Support You Need

What kind of support exists for students like me?

College is no walk in the park. Adjusting to a new environment, in a new city, with a bunch of strangers will take some time. And students find support from a number of different places, including clubs, affinity groups, support offices, and even professors. So I urge you to do a little poking around on the school’s website to see what kind of support systems are in place.

If it matters to you that there is support for first-generation students, you should check out university offerings that complement the academic mission. It might be important for you to connect with students who share some of your most salient identities. In that case, you’ll want to do some research on the cultural or identity-based student clubs on campus. These are the kinds of clubs that go beyond connecting people with similar passions. These clubs are sometimes considered home, a place where people can be their authentic selves. Staying mentally well might be a priority for you. If so, it’s worth digging into counseling services or other mindful activities that are available to students. These are just a few avenues of support to explore. I encourage you to figure out the type of support that helps you thrive. 

Values

Do the school’s values align with my own?

This might be the most important question to ask yourself. When considering value alignment, you should identify what your values are. They may be different from your parents’ values and that’s OK. Your values may even be different from your friends’ and that’s OK too. Then, you want to make sure you can identify the school’s values. These are the guiding principles that steer decision-making and actions. These are the ideals that, when you strip away the glitz and the glam, are at the core of an institution. Values like commitment to inclusion, appreciation for diverse ideas, and being at the forefront of innovation are priorities for some institutions. And values like these can tell you everything you need to know about a university. 

 

Final Thoughts

If nothing else, the recent world events have reminded us that there are so many things in life that are outside of our control. But the ball is in your court now. And you have full control over the place you’ll call home for four years. So I encourage you to take some time to reflect and ruminate on this decision and ask yourself those hard questions. Because it’s a big decision. Committing to spending four years at a school is not an easy call to make. But when you determine what really matters to you, what’s right for you will be revealed.

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