Match and Fit

The Importance of College Match and Fit

College access professionals should encourage students to communicate with a variety of people with college experience. This includes parents, family members, teachers, coaches, college representatives, career professionals, and current college students.

Selecting the best match and fit can be challenging. Students need to take the time to research their college options through a variety of resources including campus visits, college fairs, and in-school visits.

A variety of websites will help students narrow their search as they seek certain characteristics in colleges. In most cases, these search options are free and students can continue to refine their search on a regular basis. Listed below are some options for students.


2013-14 Choices are Important: This document is intended to help students think about the importance of school choice and fit when considering what schools to apply to and, ultimately, attend.

2013-14 Choosing SchoolsThis document is intended to help students identify important factors in choosing a college and identify reasons for attending a specific college.

Example College Tour Itinerary: This college tour itinerary is an example from Access College Foundation and George Mason University. Utilized this document to help students understand what is typical for a campus tour.

Higher Education Online College Database: Students can explore accredited online schools by major, state or degree level to narrow the field and find a higher education option that fits.

Maximizing the College Choice Process to Increase Fit and Match for Under-served Students: First-generation, low-income, and minority students often face a range of challenges in the college choice process that prevent them from attending colleges and universities that are a good fit and match for their needs. As a result, such students are less likely to persist and graduate after enrolling in college. This brief synthesizes scholarly research on college choice, fit and match, features an interview with practitioners, and serves as a tangible resource to practitioners working to improve student success and retention in college.

College Fairs

Literally thousands of college fairs are held throughout the country every year and serve as another form of securing information about colleges. College access professionals should be familiar with the college fairs offered in your area.

  • The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) sponsors college fairs around the country. Check their website at for the annual calendar.
  • CollegeWeekLive provides virtual college fairs.

Tips for college access professionals: Attending local area college fairs is often a good way to meet and establish relationships with area college representatives. These events also may provide a great opportunity for obtaining current print materials for colleges.

Campus Visits

Students should visit the colleges they are considering if at all possible. There are a variety of opportunities for students to visit college campuses. Encourage your students to attend open house events, schedule formal campus tour, or take a virtual tour.

  • Campus Visit Questions - This Campus Visit Questionnaire will help students prepare for the visit and consider questions to ask.

Comparing Colleges

Once students conclude their research/search for potential colleges, they may need to compare and contract colleges in order to make a final list of colleges to which they plan to apply. Students should be encouraged to talk with parents, counselors, access advisors, teachers, etc. regarding the information they have discovered and seek advice/support regarding their decisions.

When discussing the potential colleges and creating a list, it is important for students to have realistic expectations about their potential options. Each list should contain the “safe” school(s) to which we know the students will be admitted, and the list may also contain those schools that would be considered a “reach” or “stretch” based on the student’s profile. Assuming the student’s list is ready, you must now move your students through the actual application process.

Visit our Application page to learn more.