Avoid the Pressure to Find the 'Perfect Fit'

By Leah Ferguson on June 26, 2013
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Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.

During my senior year of high school, one of my biggest fears was that I would end up at a college that wasn’t right for me. Every time I looked at a college and considered whether or not I should apply, there was always a part of my brain saying, “What if this is the only college I will be happy at? What if I decide not to apply here and I don’t find any other school that I like?”

This would make me doubt my decision, even when I was fairly sure that a school wasn’t right for me. I am already an indecisive person, and choosing a college is a huge decision. I was terrified that if I chose the wrong school it would ruin my life. After going through the whole process, however, I know how ridiculous that idea is. In fact, I wish I had applied to fewer schools than I did. So, how to narrow down the choices to avoid this mistake? Like I said, I did not do a great job of it.

What’s most important to you?
My suggestion is, before you do anything, decide what you are looking for. Choose two or three things that are most important to you and only look at schools with these attributes. It can be something as simple as where the school is located, or what program you are looking for. If you know you want to stay close to home, don’t look at schools halfway across the country! If you are interested in teaching, find schools with a strong education program.

It sounds obvious, but it is immensely helpful to have a few criteria like this, so at first glance you can eliminate many schools without having to spend time researching them. Once you start making these kinds of decisions, it becomes easier to make the harder decisions as well.

It is important to get away from the mindset that there is only one perfect school for you. Every school has its little quirks, and every school will have things you like and things you dislike. However, if you choose a school that has those important qualities you were looking for (and if you visit and like what you see), chances are you will be happy there. You can’t learn every detail about a school before you start going there. I have been living on my college campus for a couple of months now, and I still learn new things about the school every day. These details will not make or break your experience, so you don’t be concerned about discovering all of them before deciding on a school.

Happy with college choice
I chose Wellesley because of the academic opportunities available to me, and because the campus is beautiful and I love spending time here. That brings me to another good point -- don’t choose a college solely on academics. You are going to spend a lot of time there, and it should have an atmosphere that you enjoy being in. You should feel like you belong.

Perhaps there is another college somewhere in the world that would have been a slightly better fit for me. However, it would not be worth examining every single school to find it. I am happy about the decision I made, and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

I know there is something out there that is right for you, whether it is college or something else entirely. If you go into your search with some idea of what you want, you will be much more likely to find it.

About the Author

Leah Ferguson

Leah Ferguson

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