What makes a college a “good fit?”

What on earth makes a school a “good fit,” especially if every single student’s “fit” is completely different?

Everyone will tell you to “find a good fit” in a college. Once you have decided, your parents will gush about what an “amazing match” your chosen school is, and the people they tell will babble on about what an awesome person you are destined to become. But what on earth makes a school a “good fit,” especially if every single student’s “fit” is completely different?

When I started the spring semester of my senior year still undecided as to where I was attending college in the fall, I was not the only one to freak out. My parents were likely more stressed about it than I was. They proposed a gap year to decide, a semester off, a first two years at the local community college with a transfer to a four-year school for the remainder, all good options. My counselors and teachers started asking more pointed questions: “Have you decided yet?” “Where are we sending your transcript now?” As deposit dates drew ever closer, I tried reconsidering my values before blindly selecting the place that would essentially become my future.

I asked myself: Where will I be most comfortable? Where will I find a strong support system and a group to fit into?

But alternately, where will I be most uncomfortable academically, most challenged and inspired to succeed? Where will I feel that I have every opportunity to experience what I don’t understand, where I can be part of anything and not sectioned into a single group?

I applied these new definitions of “fit” to the colleges I’d been accepted to, and began to examine them with the hope of finding the place where I was most likely to find myself engaged and confronted by my thoughts in a constructive way. I focused on the places where students couldn’t stop talking about their school, where professors had stories to tell about when students they knew by name had made them laugh. And these things aren’t important to everyone. The truly important part was that I took the time to define what a “good fit” was to me.

Even with these new ideals, I had to leave room for imperfection. I realized early in my college search that there was no way I could find absolutely everything I wanted in a single school, and that I would have to prioritize. Was it more important to me to have small classes where I was asked to express my thoughts often or a large band program where I could further my musical education in multiple ways? Did participation in a dance school mean more to me than being enrolled in an Honors Program?

In the end, I had to sacrifice things I thought were essential in order to find what was most meaningful to me in reality. I finally chose Emory & Henry because I was intensely drawn to the academic system, the Honors Program, and the Outdoor Program, but I wasn’t terribly convinced that I would find the music or dance opportunities to my liking. I have discovered that I have an enormous power in deciding what I want to be part of on campus and that there is a lot of flexibility to my interests. My “fit” has developed many dimensions, most of which I never expected to play a part in my life. The moral of the story, I guess, is to be both specific and open-minded, and to make a decision with enthusiasm, expecting to challenge yourself to enjoy the absolute best your new school has to offer.

BY: Jessica Myer '18