Hi Ashely, great question! Determining college fit is a subjective thing and differs from person to person.
Here's a few things you should consider:
- How much is tuition and what does the financial aid packages look like. This is probably one of the most important considerations as college is very expensive and you should be careful about the debt you take on. Schools have different scholarship and financial aid packages.
- How big is the school? Do you feel more comfortable in a large lecture or do you want to be in a smaller classroom where you get personalized attention? Liberal Arts colleges tend to be smaller (between 2000 to 4000 students), while public universities and research school may be much larger (5000 to 10,000 students).
- At large schools, often classes are co-taught by the Teaching Assistants instead of the Professor. Teaching assistants are graduate students. This can be both a good thing or not so good depending on what you seek. At smaller universities, you are more likely to have the Professor teach the class.
- At larger schools, you'll have more opportunities and activities. There will more social activities and clubs. You'll have access to different types of classes and research opportunities. If you are social and extroverted, large schools can be a great experience.
You should also consider:
- Scheduling a college tour/visit.
- Sitting in on classes at the college. This is a great way to get a sense of the classes and students are like.
- Setting up an interview with current students or alumni. The college admissions department will have a list of students/alumni you can contact to learn more.
Finally, talk to lots of people. Talk to your parents, your guidance counselor, and current students and faculty at the colleges you're interested in. You'll gain lots of different perspectives and information that will be helpful in making your decision. Good luck! And a shameless plug check out my alma mater University of Rochester and Harvard (where I did my masters)! Both are fantastic schools :)