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Answers to Your College Questions

College: What’s the perfect personality match for you?

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college-search-perfect-personality-matchAll colleges have their own defining traits and unique personalities, just like people do. Whether or not a college’s personality is going to mesh with yours is one of the most important—not to mention fun—things to consider during your college search process.

Now is the time to start figuring out what you want in a college (or don’t want in a college), building lists (and we loves lists!), and evaluating the personality of colleges you’re interested in.

Check out this list of three essential college characteristics from The Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College to help you start thinking about which schools could be a personality match for you.

1. Size: Big or Small?

The large university has always been a popular choice, offering big names, a wide range of potential majors, and ample course offerings. But the small college underdog is an option that no one should rule out right away.

The small college is one of higher-ed’s most underappreciated resources. If you’re thinking no way, a small college would never be the right fit for me!, think about this: a small college can offer more opportunities for hands-on experience (i.e. leading a student organization), a more diverse student body than you may expect, a stronger sense of community, and solid academics.

Fiske’s Tip: Consider the small college, even if you don’t want to!

2. Location: City or Rural?

Today’s applicants are all about the freedom of mobility and, sometimes, the glam and sparkle of a big city. Will you be the kid itching to get as far away from your hometown as possible? Or would you prefer living within driving distance of your family so you can go home to get laundry done over the weekends? A key thing to remember is that location isn’t the only important factor in your search. In other words, don’t focus so much on location that you forget to consider the quality of the school.

Fiske’s Tips:

  • Don’t nix the cow college upon first-sighted silo! Rural colleges usually know that they’re operating at a disadvantage in the eyes of some applicants, and because of this, will do everything to bring vibrant arts, culture, and social life to their campus.
  • Proximity to cities is often less important than proximity to other colleges. Possible benefits of being near another college are cross-registration for courses, access to more library privileges, and new social groups.

Not sure what you want in a college?

Take the Fiske Sizing-Yourself-Up Survey to find out!


3. Public or Private?

Along with all the shapes and sizes colleges come in is the public/private factor. What’s the difference? A public school is supported by the state, and private schools are independent or affiliated with a religious group. People tend to assume that public schools are more affordable, and that private schools offer more prestigious name recognition, but that’s often not the case.

There are academic differences to think about, too. Private universities host an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and offer you the chance to work side-by-side with some of the best and brightest students and professors. Public universities host high-quality programs as well and are usually strong in professional fields like business and engineering.

Fiske’s Tips:

  • When it comes to affordability, in-state tuition at public universities is often less than half that of a private college, but out-of-state tuition is soaring. And keep in mind that private schools often offer more generous merit scholarships, which can be a tuition game-changer.
  • It’s true that public universities attract their share of top students, but it can’t be denied that even some of the best are limited by their mandate to enroll in-state applicants.

Colleges want to find the right students who are going to mesh with their personality, just as much as you are looking for the perfect fit! So don’t take personality for granted—it could make all the difference in your college experience.

Want to start discovering great colleges that meet all your search criteria, including personality?

Check out the new 2014 version of Fiske Interactive Online to browse over 300 schools, with an advanced search that allows you to filter by the characteristics that matter most to you!


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