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In the first blog in our five-part series, we discussed how to help juniors begin thinking about their post-high school plans and the importance of helping students “see” themselves in college. In the second blog we talked about the importance of helping students reflect on their needs, preferences, hopes, and academic and financial boundaries. Our third blog gave us the equation Match + Fit = Balanced List, where we focused on the importance of finding a good college “match.” Now we bring it all together by turning our attention to Fit.

Match + Fit = Balanced List

How is Fit Defined?

Even if a student is well-qualified for a particular school, that does not necessarily mean that school is a good college “fit.” Researchers define fit as a college that meets a student’s educational and social needs and development.

What’s the Difference Between Fit and Match?

Match = whether a student’s academic record aligns with a college’s admission standards.

Fit = whether a college is suitable for a student’s needs, interests, values, and preferences.

Said differently: “Fit” is the fun stuff! This is where you can help your students narrow down their lists. This can include things like campus size, distance from home, and college costs. As well as academic programs, campus communities, study abroad opportunities, internship availability, and so on.

How Do I Help Students Find Colleges That Fit?

There are countless “Best Colleges For…” lists out there, but ultimately they are what they are: just lists. myOptions offers a smarter and simpler way to connect students with colleges. When students create a myOptions account, they will answer a series of questions about their needs and interests. We then compare that information with millions of other students who have already gone to college to produce a personalized group of 25 schools suited just for them.

Bringing Match and Fit Together

Think of it this way: I like to play soccer, which means I need shoes most suitable for that activity. Ballet slippers, rain boots, and flip flops probably won’t cut it. Cleats, though, will certainly do the trick! That’s “match.” But I can’t just buy any pair of soccer cleats. I need to explore – and even try on – different soccer cleats to find the ones that “fit” me best. Certainly finding the right sized cleats is important, but what about the color, the materials, and the cost? Well, those are personal decisions that require me to prioritize what matters most.

Students should start by exploring colleges where the admissions criteria match their academic and personal accomplishments. Once they’ve found those matches, they can begin finding the best fit schools based on how they’ve prioritized their needs, interests, values, and preferences.

Be sure to follow along next week as we close out the series focusing on next steps. This including tips for campus visits, getting to know admissions reps, and more!

As you have these conversations with your students, don’t forget myOptions Encourage is here to support you as you support your students. myOptions Encourage is a no-cost platform that helps guide the planning process with integrated exploration apps, progress monitoring and reporting, and college application management tools. And for more, be sure to check out our Counselor Resource Library.