The Key to a Good College Fit

I’ve spent many years as a college counselor.  Each year, the most frequent question I was asked is this: “How do I make the best choice for college?”

If you were to ask this question to a hundred college counselors, you’d get a hundred different answers.

No.  Not true.

Actually, you’d probably get just one.  I know well over a hundred college counselors.  Some are Christians, and some are not.  But I believe each one would say something like this:

Look for the college that’s the best fit for you.

What does this mean?  What is best fit?

Some elements of finding a good fit will vary from one student to another.  However, the most important key to a good college choice is finding a college community where you sense that you belong and where you will thrive.

Here’s why.  Your college years will probably shape your future more than any other period of your life.  College is where you’ll make decisions and solidify beliefs and values that will impact the rest of your life.  Most likely, college is where you’ll make lifelong best friends and perhaps meet the person who will become your husband or wife.

Your Christian faith is the most important thing in your life, right?  If so, doesn’t it make sense to choose a college that will take your faith seriously, with professors and fellow students who share this commitment to Christ?  If you’re looking at colleges where Christianity is not taken seriously – where academic subjects and life issues will not be examined through the lens of faith–what makes them a good fit for you?

As I’ve counseled students over the years, I’ve encouraged them–and their parents–to begin with this foundational principle in finding a good college fit:

If you’re serious about your faith, you should choose a college that’s serious about your faith, unless God is specifically directing you somewhere else.

Sometimes God has a specific purpose in calling a Christian student to a non-Christian college or university.  But unless you feel such a calling, remember the key word–fit–and start your search with colleges that will take your faith seriously.

Dan Crabtree worked for 30 years in college admissions, 16 of those as a college counselor at a Christian high school.  In 2016, he was named one of eight “Counselors That Change Lives” by the organization Colleges That Change Lives.  He has served as president of the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals and received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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