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Home > Academics and Advising > College Planning > Discerning the Best College Fit
Discerning the Best College Fit
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Advisors are often asked, “My son/daughter wants to attend a 4-year college. What college do you recommend?” Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all”, but we can offer some helpful resources* to assist your child’s discernment in finding the best college fit.


Questions to Ask When You Begin Your College Search

  • Finances
    • How much can I afford to attend college?
    • Do the schools that I am considering offer any financial aid?
    • Do the schools that I am considering offer any additional scholarships for incoming freshmen?
    • Do the schools that I am considering accept any outside scholarships? If so, is there a limit on accepting outside scholarships?

NOTE: For more information regarding financial aid for college, please view our Affording College article.

  • Location
    • Do I want to attend a college in-state or out of state?
    • Do I want to be in a big city or small town?
    • How much will it cost to get home for holidays and breaks?
  • Size
    • Do I want to go to a smaller college?
    • What is the professor-to-student ratio?
    • Do I want a bigger college that may offer more programs, courses, and research opportunities?
  • Majors
    • What am I interested in studying?
    • Do I want a liberal arts degree? If so, what are the liberal arts offerings?
    • Do I want a college that has minimal liberal arts coursework?
    • If the major I am interested in is a part of a school within the university, does the school have a separate application for admission? If so, do I meet the school’s specific admission requirements?
  • Type
    • Am I interested in attending a public or private university?
    • Do I meet all the admission requirements for the schools I am interested in (e.g. GPA, standardized test scores, classes taken)?
  • Campus Life
    • Do I want to attend a Catholic university?
    • Do I want to attend a small or large university?
    • Do I want to attend a school that offers specific student clubs, organizations or rec sports?
    • Am I interested in playing college sports?
    • What type of campus architecture & setting would appeal to me?
    • What is campus safety life like? What crimes occur if any, and at what rate?

College Search Websites

  • Cardinal Newman Society College List
    • Catholic colleges recognized for their strong Catholic identity. Some of the listed colleges are strictly liberal arts colleges and do not offer any majors. Most of the colleges listed do offer a liberal arts program along with majors. Some also offer financial aid, and others do not.
  • College Board
    • Click on a category to begin your college search. Categories can be based on student population, majors, religious affiliation, or location.
  • CommonApp
    • On the main website, click on “Find a college” tab to begin your college search. Schedule a campus visit

Once you have established a list of colleges that you would like to apply to based on your preferences, schedule a campus visit through each college’s Admission Department. During your campus visit, you should be able to tour the campus, meet with an admission counselor to ask any specific questions you may have, and potentially sit in on a class or two depending on if school is in session when you visit. If you are interested in playing sports, be sure to contact the Athletic Department to meet with the coaches during your visit as well.


When Should I Visit a College If I Am Able To?

Visiting a college is always best when school is in session. Visiting when school is in session allows you to meet with students and professors, sit in on classes, and see what campus life is like. Seniors should visit college campus during the fall semester. Some colleges also offer events for admitted seniors during the spring semester, so this is also a good time to revisit colleges to narrow down your decision if you already haven’t done so. For juniors who are interested in visiting colleges, you should visit during the spring semester. This is a good time to meet with Admission Counselors early in the process to understand college application expectations and additional scholarship applications if they are offered.


What If I Am Unable to Visit a College I Am Interested in Applying To?

Some colleges’ Admission Departments offer virtual meetings or virtual tours. Contact the school’s Admission Department or search the website to see if this option is offered. If colleges do offer virtual meetings, be sure to ask your assigned Admission Counselor if professors or certain departments are willing to meet virtually as well.


NOTE: *None of the organizations listed in this article are affiliated with Kolbe Academy. They are organizations that either staff members or previous Kolbe students have utilized for their college search.


Catholic Colleges

Please see Catholic College Search Resources for more information on Catholic colleges.

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