Finding the right college campus during your college search is a lot like shopping online for a new pair of jeans.

When you open the browser and search for a pair of stylish denim pants, headlines promise you the perfect fit. Looking for something with more stretch and flexibility? Try the jegging. Want something formfitting and stylish? The skinny fit may be for you.

But when a company uses the same model for every pair of jeans shown, it can be hard to know whether the jeans are really as versatile and diverse as they say. You can take a chance and click “add to cart,” but when the jeans arrive and don’t fit the way you thought they would, suddenly the dent in your bank account just isn’t worth it. For most people, when it comes to finding the right fit, you need to visit the store and try on the jeans in person.

Choosing the Right College

Just like shopping online for clothes, looking at a college’s website during your college search is a good start to finding your perfect fit. Browsing photos of students on the campus, checking out the institution’s social media accounts, and reading the college’s blog is a good way to gauge whether or not you could see yourself as a student there.

But what is it actually like to walk around on those sidewalks? What are the other students at the school like in person? How do you feel when you’re on campus?

In order to choose a college that is the best fit for you, it is important to take the time to hit the road and visit the campus itself – to try it on, so to speak. Just like going into a store, you’ll have to invest time and money and gas and, in some cases, even a plane ticket. The idea of visiting a bunch of colleges probably sounds exhausting and maybe even a little intimidating. But sometimes the only way to find your perfect fit is to “try on the jeans” in person.

Steps to choosing the right college FOR YOU:

Start Your College Search Online

You wouldn’t buy new jeans after looking at just one site, so take the time to explore a variety of college websites and social media accounts during your college search. Explore what they have to offer and, if you like what you see, add it to your list.

Schedule a Campus Visit

After you have found a handful of possible options, take the time to visit the different campuses. You’ll never know for sure if a college is the perfect fit for you until you try it on. Remember, even when the campus is the right fit, you might not necessarily feel completely at home right away. It’s OK to toss a school in the maybe pile and see what else is out there while you make your decision.

Take Notes

After visiting a campus, reflect on your experience. Did you like the campus tour? Were the people you met friendly? Were the residence hall bathrooms up to par? Was the food good? Did it have the potential to feel like home? Whether you are someone who goes off of your gut reaction or someone who slows down and makes a pros/cons list, taking the time to process your visit will make choosing a college an easier decision.

Maybe you’re a spontaneous person. You see a pair of jeans online, you pick your size in the drop-down menu, and call it good. That’s understandable – taking time to drive to the store and try on jeans can be a hassle. But the satisfaction you feel when you finally pull the right pair on, fasten the button, and dance around the dressing room is the same feeling you get when you visit the right college campus and everything “clicks.” In the end, it makes the time and money you invested in your decision-making process worth it.

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Last Updated September 2021