Will I Fit In? How to Find the Right College Community
Not sure how to determine if a college is right for you? Join CollegeAdvisor.com as former Admissions Officer Rachael Moore presents Will I Fit In? How to Find the Right College Community, during a 60-minute presentation and Q&A session. Rachael will give her tips on how to identify the perfect college communities for you.
2022-07-11 – Will I Fit In? How to Find the Right College Community
Hello everyone. My name is Juliana Furigay and I’m your moderator today. Uh, welcome to Will I Fit In? How to Find the Right College Community. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation and answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelist, Rachael. Hi everyone. My name’s Rachael Moore. I am an Advisor Team Lead and Advisor slash Admissions Officer at CollegeAdvisor.com. Been here for a little bit over a year now and have actually been working at admissions, um, or in higher education in some capacity for over 20 years.
So, um, moved over to this side to do a little bit more personal consulting type work with students and really helped dig deeper in navigating the college process. Um, so excited to share some of that knowledge with you today.
Great. So now we have a poll for everyone. Um, wondering what grade are you in? Um, and while those results come in, I’d love to hear Rachael for you. What’s the most fulfilling thing about working in higher education and college advising mm-hmm . I think sometimes that answer can change by the day, just, and part of it’s by the season that we’re in with the application process.
But I think the underlying piece of it is that everyone’s story is different. Every person’s goals and what makes them who they are from their experiences to their talents and interests is different. And I find people endlessly fascinating. So this is a great job for that. Mm-hmm , um, but more than that is being able to help give students the tools that they need to really feel confident in owning who they are and sharing that, um, to help prepare for their next steps.
Um, that has to be the most rewarding part of this work. That’s awesome. Rachael, thanks for sharing that. Um, so I see here that 27% of you guys are in the 10th grade. Uh, 27% are in 11th grade, 36% are in 12th grade. So we have a wide range of students here tonight. That’s an awesome mix. I love that awesome mix.
Great. Well with that in mind. Um, the great thing is that no matter what grade you’re in this information is going to be the same. So hopefully you’ll find it helpful, whether you’re just starting to get your toes into the process, feel it out, or whether you’re a senior who realizes it’s time to really get into this a little bit deeper.
Um, no matter what, this is all helpful information for you that you’ll be able to come back to again and again is you navigate your respective journeys. Um, so we’ll just start off with what makes for a good fit and something that you’re probably going to notice as a recurring theme throughout this talk tonight is that there’s a lot of needing to really listen to your gut and really think about how it is you feel this process is truly all about you as a student.
So when we think about what makes a good fit, I really say, think about what you personally need to thrive, you know, cuz it’s gonna be different for everybody and it’s going to be different depending on what areas of your life you’re focusing on at a moment.
Um, so as hard as it may be, because I know everyone, everyone talks about college a lot and likes to share what they’ve learned or seen or heard with regards to the college process. It’s still going to be interpreted differently based on what your needs are. So I always try to talk about how it’s important to take the information in, but really step back and reflect to think about how does this apply to me?
Does it apply to me and then move forward from there? you know, and so starting to think about what is, if that you need to be at your best, whether it’s academic programs, resources that are available to you academically or personally, and support. Um, and that with a personal side, it could be medical, mental health, dietary needs, physical needs as well, you know, for you to do your best in school, you have to physically feel well too and have that support, um, so that you can focus on the academic learning part too.
So that’s why, um, we do talk about the whole self here. You know, also social, cultural, cultural communities, really having your sup, having a place where you can build your support system based on values that you have. So really thinking about your life today and where it is that you feel, you get your positive energy from your feeling of security.
A lot of that’s not gonna change. Um, and you know, the difference is now you have to go out and maybe choose a place where that next environment’s going to be for you. So really think about that and think about if something’s missing sort of that I wish I had, or when I’m a little bit older, I wanna, you know, have this different type of experience or vibe or community around me.
Those are all parts of the factors of what you have to consider with what you personally need to thrive. Um, of course, we’re going to college to get a degree. So we wanna think about are the academic opportunities that you need available at the school or program that you’re applying to. So that is something you have to spend some significant time exploring to make sure that you’re gonna have that learning and expert and the experiences that you need.
That’s gonna help to lay the foundation for what you wanna pursue when you graduate from college. When I talk about that, you know, I completely understand that at 15, 16, 17, or 18 years old, you very well may have no idea what it is you wanna do with the rest of your life. And. The coach in me says, I kind of don’t even want you to know because the world is so big and opportunities and needs are changing all of the time, but some of us do have a calling or feel like we at least have an idea of the field we wanna go into.
So a lot of times when I talk about this, um, I’m actually thinking about students who know they wanna go to a professional school or for example, into a health profession, um, or something that’s gonna require graduate level work in order to get, um, to the entry level and a career that they’re looking for.
The other piece is, you know, what’s the vibe. Um, when you feel really positive, when you feel like the best version of you, when you are looking at a college, um, whether in your research, whether it’s online, whether it’s through marketing material that gets sent to you online, um, Different webinars or walking on campus, which best of all, if you just feel that just excitement, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got yourself a fit there.
So we’ll talk more about that later in the presentation. And then the last piece really isn’t the last piece for consideration. Um, but for the, for the purpose of the slide is financial viability. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment, but you have to, you know, part of setting yourself up self up for success is knowing that it is a financially viable option for you, whether it’s through scholarships.
Need based or non-need based aid, whatever your picture looks like. Um, making sure that it’s something that you’re gonna be comfortable with. Um, if you do have to take out loans, um, or pay for that college education, that it’s gonna be a level that you’re gonna be comfortable with for when you graduate as well.
Okay. What factors create different cultures at different colleges? Um, I, I would say this is the same, whether it’s a college, whether it’s in your own community, different neighborhoods, um, it’s a variety of factors. One is obviously their location, um, different parts of the country, different parts of the world, even within the same city.
Um, I’m actually from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and there are 88 different neighborhoods. Just in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I can tell you, as you drive through them, each of them has a different vibe. Um, so it’s really, you know, it could be location. It can be their affiliation. So if it’s a public university, a private university, maybe a faith based school affiliated with a certain, um, denomination or religion, all of those factors will absolutely influence the type of education that you’re going to be receiving.
looking at what is the school known for? Um, it’s gonna have give you a good idea for the type of experience that you might have as well as where a lot of the resources are put into, um, for that school. So whether it’s research, whether they’re professional programs that can offer licensure when you’re done for a career, if it’s a liberal arts school, you know, really take some time to look at what they’re known for and what they’re all about.
Also what are their values and where do you find that? Um, you can always go to the mission statement or the about page on a college’s website. That certainly makes sense, but it’s also taking a look at the marketing material, you know, look at the pictures, what do they choose to focus on? What are the you know, different types of blog posts, or articles or programs that they choose to highlight from their, you know, from their, you know, landing pages or, or home pages.
So take a look, see what they’re really all about. And when you look at their mission, you know, look to see, is it lining up with the marketing material or the conversations that you have with people who are familiar with the institution? You know, and of course, what are the students like? I always say you have four years for college to truly be your own.
Every class is different because of what they’ve experienced culturally and in our world, um, during a period of time. So what, you know, different factors that impact what their experience in life is going to impact what they want to get out of their college experience. So think about that a little bit.
Um, also some are more studious campuses, some you know them because, and they can have, they will all have different elements of this. It’s really just about, you know, how much of each, what. What they emphasize and what the feel is when you’re looking at the school, but, um, are they really school? Is it school, spirit are sports, a big part of the social life, for example, on the weekends, um, at, do they emphasize in academic and personal life balance, what are the social opportunities?
Are students more adventurous? Um, you know, if it’s a place that really celebrates its location in a mountain region, for example, or where there’s a lot of hiking and, you know, outside opportunities, sometimes you get that stereotypical more adventurous type of person that’s that fills a lot of their time outside the classroom.
Those are all the types of, uh, just examples of things that you would want to look at. And where do they come from? Where do students want to go? You know, I, I think maybe the easiest example for this is, you know, a largely regional or local type school versus a national or international, um, population of students who attend their, so the, to attend there.
So all of that is going to impact, you know, the type of experience and the type of support opportunities that are there.
Okay. What should I be looking for when researching colleges, um, think about when you’ve bet at your best? So this is kind of right before say. Spending some time, you’re gonna sit down, start looking at some colleges you’ve heard about and want to see a little bit more about, take some time at first to think about when you are the best version of yourself and how do you do that?
You know, think about a time when you just. You glowed because you felt really accomplished or you were in your element, you know, what were you doing? You know, was it, if you’re an athlete, maybe it was during a certain competition or game, um, that you are a big part of. If you’re in theater, you know, is it when your practice or, you know, rehearsing or in a performance, if you’re in a lab, is it when you are problem solving through an experiment or testing out a new idea, where is it that you just light up and you pretty much lose all track of time when you are engaged with that activity?
You know, what’s the environment are you? If, if it’s outdoors, if you’re in a city, small town, if you’re in a lab on the stage, whatever it is. Um, and what are the personal characteristics in those moments where you just feel on fire in a really great way? Um, what were the talents, what were the strengths or the skills that you were using at that period of time?
When you have a good idea of where you’re a great version of yourself, you wanna make sure that those types of opportunities, experiences, environments are available to you and your college experience. That’s when we start to think about what is it where you can find what you need to thrive, not just your basic necessities, um, but that energy and being surrounded by people who share those types of values and interests as well, where you all encourage each other to, you know, just keep exploring and growing together.
think about what’s the foundation you need to prepare for what is next? Again, some people know they just have always had the sense of what they wanna do when they grow up. Um, many of us don’t, um, in either way is completely fine, but you do wanna think about what are the skills that are needed to.
Succeed in the workplace today. Um, and in the coming, you know, five to 10 years and what kind of foundation like classes, certifications, what is it that you need experiences so that you’ll be prepared for whatever is next, when you graduate from college? You know, I could absolutely tell you opportunities to explore hands on learning, whether it’s through the classroom, um, activities, whether it’s through internships, whether it’s through service work or projects in the college community, whatever it may be.
It’s making sure that you have what you need to keep growing and tapping into. Opportunities that let you learn more about yourself and where you can be your best self, um, undergraduate research opportunities also. So depending on the field, you know, those are really critical for your competitiveness for opportunities when you graduate.
The other piece that I think maybe. Students or families don’t think about that can be really telling, is looking at outcomes. So by that, I mean, what are the alumni doing when they graduate? What type of companies or schools or professions are they going into? The more that you can understand that the more you’re gonna get an idea of, you know, what they’ve been prepared for, what makes them competitive candidates or where they are competitive candidates for when they graduate.
So taking a look at alumni, um, academic programs will often showcase on their webpages within a college, um, website, you know, kind of those star unique alumni. Experiences. So taking a look at that, um, also service, how are alumni making a difference or current students making a difference in their communities as well?
Some schools are gonna have a bigger emphasis than others on that, but I think that’s a great way, again, to look at outcomes, to see, you know, what that student’s experience there might have been like in steering the direction that they might wanna pursue when, when they move on. And then the other piece is financials.
You know, taking a look at. what kind of scholarships are offered at a school? You know, how many students receive scholarships? Is it need based? Um, is it merit based? What type of debt are you comfortable taking on? If you need to take out ones to pay college and as hard as it is, it’s really taking a bit of a long view at that.
A great place to look at, um, is terms of what gauging your comfort level and what you may need. And this is a very personal, you know, choice and factor that you have to explore with yourself. Um, and if there are family members, um, who you’re working through this process with is the federal student aid estimator.
Even if you Google that, um, you it’ll automatically, you know, hyper or give you the link that you need to from the government website that and the us department of education that helps to manage, um, federal student aid. So that is a really great resource that I encourage you to bookmark, um, is you start looking, uh, or start moving into your college search.
okay. Where to learn more about a college’s community. We’ve started touching on this. I think a lot, a lot of these slides tend to build upon each other, but also start to reinforce what we’ve been talking about up to this point. Um, of course go to the college’s website, um, current students and alumni, um, along with leveraging your network.
So having managed student ambassador programs for probably about 15 years or more in total. Oh, it definitely more than that. I can tell you that, you know, Actually getting the student perspective, getting a professor’s perspective, um, that can outweighs anything I could say is a representative of college.
Not that I wasn’t respected, um, or viewed as a good source of information, but the truth is the students are in the faculty are the ones who sort of make that experience what it is. So you wanna talk to them and generally they are happy and excited to talk about their school. So you definitely wanna take advantage and talk about that.
And same as alumni. If an alum is happy to talk about their school, let them. Brings them joy. It’s a way they can give back. And even if a school’s changed over a period of time, generally, you’re still gonna get a good idea from what they walked away with. That’s helped them later on in life to achieve what they’ve wanted to.
So I think those are great places to start. Um, and leveraging that your network, I can promise you, you will find your network is much larger than you realize it is. You know, talk to peers who visited certain schools or high school seniors who are now going on, who just graduated and going on to their new school, uh, or college family and friends, teachers, coaches, mentors.
If you start talking to them about your college search. So many times they’re gonna say, oh, I know someone that went there. Um, you, I can get you in touch with them or just asking them might, you know, someone who went there that I could get some inside perspective on. Um, so leverage your network. If you can personally visit highly recommend that.
Um, but I will save resources in a post COVID world. That’s not post COVID, but as a result of COVID the resources available on a college’s website have really improved, um, on a much larger scale now. So, you know, being able to take advantage of diff even online virtual information sessions, communicating with ad me with members of admissions teams, there’s so much opportunity now that actually wasn’t there, um, se a couple of years ago.
So if you can’t make it on campus right away, that’s not a reason to be stressed out or to feel like you’re missing out. Um, my recommendation is hopefully once you have narrowed that list down, even if it’s waiting until you’ve been admitted, Hopefully you can make a visit, but there are also plenty of students who haven’t been able to, but we’re able to get a good feel for the school, through their networking and connecting with resources there to make that decision credible search tools.
When you’re doing sort of a more global beginning stages of the process, obviously college advisor.com. We have an incredible network of advisors, uh, over 300 of them. I think I’m stealing Juliana’s thunder a little bit there promoting that. Um, but we have a lot of resources, including webinars like this, to help you, um, the college board’s big future, um, niche.com and mungo.com as well.
Okay, how to figure out what you are looking for. We really touched upon this a lot, um, earlier, but I’ll just reinforce, be honest with yourself. This is a time for personal introspection. You know, certainly if you’ve got a few minutes here and there and you figure, you’ll just do some exploration of colleges, you’ve been meaning to check into go for it.
But before you really seriously, start to intensively, dig in more. I would really take time to be honest with yourself and to do that, just do some in personal introspective, back to what is it that you need to be the best version of you? What type of social scene and experiences or people, what cultural influences do you need to have?
Is your practicing, your particular religious faith, an integral part of your life and something you can’t imagine not having. When you go to college, you know, what’s the physical space. Like, you know, some people just live for the energy of a big city. Others don’t wanna be near that and they want a much quieter environment with nature around them.
Um, what’s the academic rigor, like what type of personal support is there for you? Um, those are all things that only you can answer, um, for what you need in your life to feel your best. and of course, what are your goals both during, what do you wanna get out of your college experience? How do you wanna grow?
And then also after college, what type of career type of work can you see yourself doing? Even if fits as basic as what are the skills that I know I wanna use or the talents that I wanna be sure that I use in my career? Um, you can start going from there again, what are your values and what, when are you at your best?
And the other piece to think about is maybe you don’t fully know when you’re your best self, you know, think about where are there gaps in your life that you want to explore? You know, that might be something that is really telling for you, something new that you wanna experience and be sure that you’re going to have when you graduate.
Thank you so much, Rachael. Now we’re moving on to a poll. Um, so wondering where are you in the application process? Haven’t started researching schools, working on essays, getting application materials together, or almost done. Uh, so interested in hearing your guys’ responses. And while we wait for those to come in, um, I’m interested in hearing Rachael, what was your favorite part of your college community?
Um, did you have a favorite spot on campus? Interested in hearing all of that? I know you’re gonna delve into that more later as well. Yeah. Um, so, okay. So I would say maybe one of the biggest things for me was I went eight hours away from home. Um, and that was the first time in my life that I was ever that far away from home and away from my parents, but I was ready and I knew I was ready.
And it was just that feeling of I was fully responsible for myself. And so, you know, ways that I found that were, you know, in the, for the first time, like I really got involved in student government. I loved that, you know, being in the student union where all the activity and buzz was happening, know there were always activities.
We were planning for the weekends. Like I think that was one of the biggest, like hot spots for me when I was on campus. 100%. Yeah. College is definitely a time that, you know, be independent and forge your own community in a new place. I say that like, I’m like, wow, I’m sure there are a lot of parents on this phone.
Many I’m sure are like, yes, that’s what we want. And others who are like, yeah, that’s, that’s real.
Yeah. And now onto the poll results looks like 38% of you haven’t started yet. And 62% of you all are researching schools. So everyone’s basically around the early stage of their application process. Uh, closing the, pull up now and passing it back to you. Rachael. Awesome. And I will tell you that I was thinking about this before starting this, this webinar, this evening.
and I truly sincerely mean this when I say this mm-hmm, like each stage of working with a student in the admissions process is special for very different reasons, but I’ve always particularly loved about this earlier stage that it’s all so new and it’s scary, but it’s also super exciting because for many it’s a world you’ve just never known much about before.
It’s something that others have told you, but you haven’t really been able to think about or explore. So there’s just such an energy being someone that can help kind of guide you as to how to navigate that. So I just thank you all for giving me the opportunity to do that today. um, so we were talking about the factors, um, that go into.
You know, your school list, some things to really, you know, think about. And these, sometimes these can be sort of, as you, it comes to actually having to define a little bit more what it is that you want, or you need these C. This gets hard. Um, and I think it’s important to be, you know, accepting of yourself or patient with yourself as you figure this out.
Um, but one piece that I think is really important is remember that not everything is in the name of a school, um, where I went to school, I can tell you, like people had it still. When I say 22 years after graduating, where I went to school about parades at university, people never heard of that before.
And they’re like, must not be very good. Look it up. There’s some pretty great things about that that’s school. Um, just cause you haven’t heard from, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a great experience or what you need. Um, so I think that’s important to think about, um, process of elimination. Does make the process more manageable.
So a lot of times when I get students, um, at the beginning stages of their college process, they wanna make sure they don’t miss anything. And that’s human. I remember being at that same spot myself, you know, this is your time to make sure that you’ve explored all your options while there are over 2000 plus schools out there, all of which will not be the right fit for you, or have the right options for you.
So at some point, the process of elimination has to happen to make that process more manageable. So, you know, going through all these different factors that we’ve talked about is definitely gonna help you get a list that is. Somewhat realistic, at least, and at least gonna help you to learn more about yourself and what you like, maybe what you don’t like and to keep going on from there.
So something to think about it’s a good thing is you’re able to eliminate a little bit. Um, and you’re also starting to level the playing field in term, uh, with you’re in your own list of what’s actually viable for you based on what’s a serious contender. You know, if it does it reflect your values, your goals, you know, what you need financially, your interests, you know, it’s exciting when you get to that, you know, more narrow list and think, wow, like these are, these are the potential places where I may spend the next four to five years of my life and it’ll be great.
Um, what works for one person does not mean it’ll work for you. I can tell you though, I spent a lot of time in my advising conversations actually talking about, and it’s with parents oftentimes too saying that, well, I know this student would, my student would be great at this school because so, and so’s child was, um, or, you know, this was the best place for a good friend of mine.
So we like each other so much. Of course, it’s gonna be a great place for me too. And then when you dig deeper, really, maybe it’s not cuz your interests, your goals are actually really different. Um, so I think it’s really important to remember again, this is a very introspective personal process and you absolutely respect and honor another person’s experience and opinion, but you have to be careful to differentiate between yourself and their experiences and what your needs are.
And then the other piece is setting yourself up for success in the long term. Um, that’s ultimately why you’re making this investment of time and energy and money. So you wanna make sure that wherever it is that you’re thinking about that it truly is going to be a place that’s going to give you the tools you need to set you up for success to achieve those longer term goals.
Okay. What was my experience? Finding a college community? I do feel pretty lucky that I on my own, I’m a pretty intuitive person. So I think that helped a lot. You know, if I found I’ll be honest, easily swayed by marketing material. Um, I think we all are more sometimes than we realized. So, you know, first I really did look at, you know, what did they choose to write about how did I feel when I was looking at what was going on on campus?
Um, how did the students look, you know, what, what did they do? Where were they going when they graduated? Um, so that did heavily sway me. Um, and I listened to my gut. If I looked at a school a couple of times and just thought, just not feeling the vibe. I dismissed them after a while. Cause I also had options that I did feel good about.
Um, I did narrow down my list and apply before I actually visited a school. Now, the reason for that personally was my father’s job. Didn’t allow us to get away on weekends, much as all. So for me, it was a lot of offline or, you know, research on my own, going to college fairs where I could meet with representatives.
Um, really just learning as much as I could without actually being on campus. Once I got accepted to the schools and also had my financial aid packages to make sure that they were going to be an actual option for me, that is when we had planned ahead to make visited to those final schools on my list.
And I’ll tell you, I had actually narrowed it down to two that I thought I would be equally happy at. And the one that through the entire process, I thought I was going to go to. ended up not being the one. Um, the one that I ended up with that was always a good second, um, actually ended up being the purpose, perfect place for me at that time.
Um, and part of what that was for me, um, this comment from my dad was I’ll never forget. It was a few weeks before the decision deadline and I was in the admissions office and it was about eight hours from home and from Pennsylvania to the state of Indiana where my college was. I it’s a cornfield. If you take I 80, if you’ve ever driven it or your parents have you’ll know what I mean?
It’s cornfield after cornfield. And my dad just looks at me and he said, Rachael, you’re only a cornfield away from home. And truly that level of just confidence and comfort. I made my decision. So think about what it is that you need and you know, what your comfort level is. Um, and then just half the confidence to go from there.
All right. My last advice, you absolutely have to listen to your gut sense. Um, and that comes with I think, time and experiences in your life, but really do your best to cut out the noise because everyone has an opinion about college. Um, you know, everyone from loved ones to just, as you hear about it in the media all the time, really have to do your best to just reflect and come within, to think about what it is you need and surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart.
When it comes to this, to this process. My other, my last three, um, points here are what I share with every student, a person in my life. Who’s really, you know, thinking kind of at a crossroads and it’s be open, open to ideas, be open to opportunities, things you haven’t ever considered or known about. Be curious, ask questions and just be all in throw yourself into that process so that you make the most of it feel that you’ve, you know, could make the most informed decision and go in the direction that makes the most sense for you because you’ve left nothing and on the table in terms of your energy and time and you know, consideration.
So I hope that’s helpful. It’s really scary. I know, but it’s also incredibly exciting. Um, and you truly have the world ahead of you, so I just wish you so much luck in.
Alrighty. Now we’re here at the Q&A, uh, feel free to submit your questions. Uh, first one we have up here is, uh, what if I don’t end up liking the college I choose to attend? What’s the transfer process like? oh my God. so we talk about planning for ahead. That’s true. We talked a lot about that. Um, so every schools is going to be different.
I think what’s going to be important though, to remember is you’re gonna wanna be able to, you know, really explain why and give, you know, if you work with me, you get sick of me, requiring a why to every every sort of decision it can affect our strategy moving forward. So, um, you really, you know, it. If you look though at schools, you know, on the admissions page, you can re you know, transfers is always going to be part of that.
Um, but it is going to be different. It’s not going, you know, for example, a lot of them won’t require your test scores, which may be to some that’s attractive, but you’re gonna have to other components of your application are going to be really important, including, you know, if you’ve done that first semester, your classes, how you’ve done in them or where it is you wanna go next and why you think that school’s gonna be the right fit for you 100%.
Um, the next question that we have here is what should be value more in looking for a college, the community, or the course rigor and opportunities. Um, is this also dependent on our field of interest? I would say it’s partially, it there’s a lot, that’s dependent on your field of interest. I mean, if you’re not, you know, if you want to, I’ll just thinking of us off the top of my head, for example, like go to medical school or into the health professions, but there’s not a strong emphasis on Samme on some are experiential learnings, undergraduate research opportunities.
Then maybe, maybe you need to look and broaden that, that scope a little bit further. Um, and I would just apply that then to any field that you’re interested in. Um, I mean the most, I think obvious example would be say, you wanna go into the theater world? You know, you wouldn’t go to a place that doesn’t have a great, you know, stage in production.
So mm-hmm, it’s whatever your interest is, you wanna make sure there’s resources, there are resources there to support it. Hard too to that. Did I miss it? Um, I think you got it all covered actually. yeah, you’re good. Okay. Um, next question here is, uh, you spoke about financial viability before, um, and this student is wondering if, um, there will be lower chances of admissions due to applying with like a financial need or need for scholarship.
Mm-hmm , that’s every school’s gonna be different. I can’t give that a blanket option. I mean, I will tell you as an admissions officer, I’m first looking at fit, you know, I’m looking at is the student personally, academically, are they a good fit in someone who would thrive here? And the rest of that oftentimes.
Honestly is based on when a student applies for financial aid. So I can’t speak for every school that’s out there, but generally speaking and I can, I’ve always worked for need, you know, blind schools. So I never looked, I never knew a student’s financial, um, viability. So mm-hmm, every, that’s something you might wanna look at for every school that you’re applying to.
Um, but I would say focus on fit, um, personal fit, and then, you know, start to narrow down, you know, as you start to look at the financial options, 100% and just like adding onto that for those students who like aren’t aware. Um, so what need line means is that, uh, the college makes an admissions decision, um, without any consideration of the applicant’s ability to pay.
Um, whereas there’s also need aware schools, um, and those will partially take into account an applicant’s, um, ability to pay when they’re choosing to admit students. So it’s definitely helpful to look at the colleges that you’re interested and see, you know, are they need blind? Are they need aware, um, how much financial aid will they offer?
Things like that? Um, very school dependent. And I would add to that too, that don’t ever knock a school out because you assume it’s not gonna be an option for you because you don’t. No necessarily. I mean, they’re pretty transparent about, you know, average amount of eight that’s a student receives, but you never know every student’s situation is different.
So, you know, even talking with a financial aid officer, um, earlier on in the process can be helpful too, 100%. Um, and I know that some schools offer merit scholarships for different things. So you don’t know what scholarships you’re gonna end up qualifying for later on what kind you have a, the school will give you.
So definitely don’t knock a knock off a school from your list, just because of that financial viability piece. You. Try to make it work later on. Um, and yeah, next question we have here. Um, what’s the number one most important factor in determining whether a college is a good fit for me, , it’s gonna be different for every person.
Um, I would say though, you know, certainly, you know, making sure that they do have programs that are gonna support you, being prepared to move on to your next goal after college, you know, whether it’s your thinking, you wanna go into the working world right away, whether it’s, you have already a pretty good idea of what graduate school might require, but you wanna make sure that the, the term I always use is that the foundation is there that you’re gonna need, um, for moving forward.
Uh, this student is wondering, how should I weigh the factors that my parents want in my college versus the factors that I want in a college oh my gosh, I’m scared. Now as an advisor, this is always when you’re in the middle. Um, so you absolutely, ultimately you, you know what you’re going to need. Um, what I will say is as hard as it may be deep down your parents, they just wanna see you do well.
So when you can find work hard to find that silver lining, and I know it’s easy for me to say, cuz I’m not sitting at a table with you and your parents. Um, but you know, really think getting to the root of, you know, why is a certain characteristics so important to your. If you even ask them and really giving a good why as to why certain characteristics are so important to you.
And my guess is there are schools out there that might, you might be able to find both at. So, um, in there could be resource, you know, maybe it’s your school counselor, you know, some school counselors have a college counselor on staff to help with that. Not all schools do. And I understand that. Um, but even online in doing that research or talking to others, you know, the more you dig in, I think the more it, the more you can learn about what’s out there, not just what you’ve heard, but find out for yourselves.
Mm. definitely. Rachael, thank you. Um, gonna take this time right now, uh, to do a little plug for CollegeAdvisor mm-hmm . So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, um, we know how overwhelming the admissions process can be, uh, for parents and students like, uh, so we have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions ex experts that are ready to help you and your family navigate it all through one-on-one advising sessions, webinars, articles, all of our different offerings.
Um, so definitely take charge of our family’s college admissions journey, uh, by signing up for a free 15 minute strategy session with an admissions expert, uh, using the QR code on the screen. Uh, feel free to submit your questions. Now we’re going back to the Q&A, um, next question I have here is earlier you talked about making connections with professors, um, where do I find their contact information?
How do I become connected to these professors? Mm-hmm that’s a great question. Mm-hmm um, there are a number of ways you could do it. The top two, I would say is, you know, go on a program’s website if you’re doing your research, you know, and if there’s a specific program that you’re interested in, a lot of times they’re gonna list the faculty, um, or say you’re reading an article, um, about a piece of research that just got a lot of publicity.
A lot of times they will put, you know, a link either to that professor’s bio or contact info. So that’s one place. but the other place that I would advise is the admissions officer, um, that you’ll be working with, even if it’s starting out calling the admissions office and saying, you know, I’m a student, who’s a prospective student, who’s really interested in your school and really wanna learn more about X program that you’re interested in and wanna talk to a faculty member.
Admissions officers are kind of those connectors between you and the programs. The other piece that that does is it allows that admissions office to get to know you. And it’s a term we use called demonstrated and trust that you’re really demonstrating like your desire to know more and find that fit for you.
So. either of those ways, but a good place to start is always the admissions office. They’re kind of the global helpers. I feel like in a college campus community. Mm-hmm definitely. Um, so this student is wondering about like campus safety as a factor in choosing colleges. Um, so they, they don’t necessarily like schools that are based in big cities because of like the dangers of the surrounding city and just being in a city.
Um, they’re wondering, should they factor out completely these universities that are located in cities? Um, despite having like a good college community and course opportunities. Yeah, I, that’s such a great question. And mm-hmm I feel like if I do this presentation again, I wanna put more about campus safety on there too.
Mm-hmm um, because that is so important. So. There are a couple of factors. One is, you know, again, talking with the admissions office that I, what they’re often gonna say is, which is true, is here are all the different precautions that we have on campus. And mm-hmm each campus is unique. You know, if you’re in a city, you’re going to have different, you know, support services there and resources and who they work with, not just on the college campus, say they’re police force, but also within the city as well.
For example, working at universities in Pittsburgh, it wasn’t just the campus police. It was also the city of Pittsburgh police as well. And how do they work together? Um, so it’s learning that there’s also years ago, um, past the clear act, and that is what. Colleges are required each year to provide a report of, of like activity that happen on campus.
So that is something you can always usually find it online, maybe the public safety website and go on the public safety websites as well, um, for our college campus. But if you wanna have an idea of more like if different crime that’s happened or been reported, that that’s a really good place to get actual data on that as well, 100%, but I would not again, rule out a school just because of a perception.
Um, and again, talk to the students. You go on campus. I always say, make your way to a small coffee shop. Ask people, you know, people are willing to talk or just listen to the bus that’s going on. You know, you’ll get a really good sense. It, students are unfiltered and I love it. Mm-hmm um, they’re gonna tell you how they feel.
Mm-hmm definitely. Um, so this student is wondering about, you know, those not, not so pretty statistics, oncologists, for example, you know, depression, rates, stress, culture, stress rates, suicide rates, um, you know, they’re wondering how much they should, you know, consider those statistics. Uh, when they’re looking at colleges, mm-hmm , I think the first thing you always have to, and I don’t care what the statistic is, you know, whether it’s related to, you know, issues on campus, whether it’s like a fun pop quiz that you see on people.com like whatever it is, you really just need to look at what, how credible is the data that you’re looking for.
Because for example, if it’s not officially coming from the college themselves, it could be maybe a disgruntled person or someone who just didn’t feel the support they needed in their unique situation. You’re never gonna know the full picture and the full reality. So I always say you’ve got to in think a little bit more critically about where you’re getting your data from mm-hmm the other piece though, is absolutely.
Um, you do need to pay attention to, and you’ll feel it you’ll feel it on campus. I truly believe a lot of the time, you know, what is the culture like? You know, if students are, you know, ask what’s the vibe on campus during midterms, what’s the vibe on campus at finals? You know, what is it what’s going on?
You know, like what is the, like a sort of work life balance, and the more you can read their faces, you know, if they’re, you’re going to see it. I mean, I ha I’ve worked on. Very different types of campuses. And one, you know, was had a lot of them had great work life balance, others needed more support you could tell.
And another was a really intensive environment and great place, but not for everybody. And you need to, you know, really again, when I say don’t just think about the name, you know, if your mental Health’s gonna suffer because of the optics of something, that’s not the right fit for you. Mm-hmm , you have to be your experience is what you make of it.
And you have to be in a place where you feel you’re going to be your best. Definitely. Um, I think the last question that we have for tonight is, you know, any tips or resources on how to organize my college list and the factors I’m looking for, for example, Google doc Excel sheet, what’s best to use. I love that question.
Um, everybody’s different. Some people like myself still like a notebook and a pen. I need to write it. Um, but I use Excel sheets or Google sheets a lot, um, because that also enables me to have all these different tabs at the bottom. And, you know, for example, with my students, I have two tabs for a college list.
One is my college exploration list and the next one is my final college application list. Um, and then you can. You know, it’s where you can put all these different types of notes and links and whatnot to, so I guess I kind of not intentionally answered, do it on a Google sheet or an Excel doc or Excel sheet, but, um, you know, whatever works for you.
Yep. Alrighty. Well, that is the end of our webinar. Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you so much, Rachael. Thank you. Um, we had a really great time telling you about finding the right college community. Um, and over here you can see our July series. Um, on the 13th we have Financial Aid and Scholarships 101 on the 17th Yale University College Panel, 18th Common App Deep Dive 19th, Starting Early to Stand Out in College Admissions, the 20th AO Advice: Crafting the College Essay, the 24th, How to Earn the Highest Grades You Can, 25th College Panel of Harvard University, 26 AO Advice: What Makes a Strong College Application, 27th Applying to College as an International Student. So as you can see, we have a pretty packed schedule in July. Um, definitely check out these webinars if you’re interested in hearing on any of these topics. But, yeah. Thank you so much again, Rachael. Thank you everyone for coming out. Thank you and have a good night. You too. Bye bye.