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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Always Ask! Finding Your Best Fit College

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

While visiting another college last weekend, I found myself thinking about why we go on campus visits and what we hope to get out of them. In this case the goal was finding a “best fit” college - one where the student I was with would be happy, challenged to grow, and successful.

With so many good choices of colleges and universities it can be stressful for students (and parents) to narrow down their list to pick the top few that they feel are the best personal fit. I’ve written before about the many factors to consider when narrowing down the choices, but today I want to highlight the importance of asking questions, so many questions!

When on a campus tour, I encourage your family to ask as many questions as you can think of. I take tours regularly (in order to share what I’ve learned with my clients) and over and over again tour guides have thanked me for asking a lot of questions. It makes the tours more interesting, it helps bring out added information, and everyone gains a better understanding of the campus. While tour guides are well-trained to highlight many important aspects of their campus, they cannot possibly cover all of the specialty areas that may be important to each student in their decision.

During my weekend tour, questions came up about the honors program, the theater productions, campus safety, the size of lecture halls, and freshmen having cars on campus. Each question helped everyone on the tour get to know the university better. After the formal tour, we wandered off to visit some areas we hadn’t gotten to, but that were important for my student personally. Here again, it was valuable to ask, ask, ask! We visited the athletic facility and felt that the fitness center looked a little small. But then a quick question to the front desk student worker led us to understand that it was only one of two fitness centers - the other being larger. When we asked about the one dance studio we noticed. She told us there were more and she talked about the many dance club and team options and her positive experience in them. This campus was feeling like a better and better fit all the time!

After taking it all in and realizing that this university might be in the top group of schools on my student’s application list, we decided to have a meal at the campus dining hall. As with most of the colleges I’ve visited, the tour guides mention that there are gluten-free and vegan options and dining accommodations available, but actually eating a meal on campus gives us a much better sense of the reality. Unfortunately in this case, there was very little for my student to eat at the one and only main dining hall on campus. Once again, we asked many questions of the staff on site and I followed up with an email to the campus nutritionist with more detailed questions. (I’ll have more to say about allergy friendly colleges in an upcoming post because a large part of a prospective student's choice for a college revolves around where they feel they will fit in and be happy. Food can be a big part of the happiness factor, so it’s an important consideration for students with dietary restrictions.)

Each student should have their own list of important considerations and try to get information on each of those factors when they are on college visits. Asking lots of questions makes the best use of the time you put into visiting. If you cannot visit in person, go to the website to get your questions answered and reach out to university staff by email or ask your admissions representative to help get your answers. The more you ask questions and use the answers to determine your “best fit” colleges, the more successful and happy you will likely be once you arrive on campus.

Confident College Planning guides students and families in the process of finding colleges which best meet their personal needs and interests so that the student will be most successful. Our services include planning discussions for exploring majors, making college lists and college visits, and individualized attention for essay editing, application review and tracking, scholarship research, and funding strategies. If you would like professional guidance for the critical milestones and best practice insights into the college selection process, contact me at to schedule a consultation.

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