August 24, 2010 | Suzanne Shaffer | 1 Comment With so much talk about SAT scores, GPA’s and stellar essays, many forget that college is about finding that “perfect fit”. It’s great to get accepted to a top-tiered university or an Ivy League college, but if you’re there just for the notoriety on your resume you’re totally missing the point. Remember that college is four years of your life and you want to spend them in a place where you feel at home. What does that mean? It means that there is a college for everyone. It also means that the choice is always yours, not the other way around. If a college doesn’t want you, why would you want to go there? If they can’t see value in having you on their campus, then you shouldn’t waste your time trying to get there. You want to go where the college values your contribution. You want to spend those four years in a place where you are challenged, appreciated and involved. Broaden your search There are over 4000 public and private higher institutions in this country. So many students stay within miles of their hometowns. Broaden your search and you will be amazed at the varied number of choices you will find available. Use the College Navigator to find some gems that you might not have known about. Visit some colleges You can’t know that “perfect fit” until you visit the campus. If you are clueless about where you want to attend, make some preliminary college visits. Talk to students. Find out what you like and don’t like about the campuses. It will help you make a list of likes and dislikes and help you narrow down a list. Think outside the box Everybody dreams of going to Harvard. But did you know there are over 40 colleges in the Boston area alone? Think about attending a small liberal arts college like Maryville College in Tennessee (low faculty to student ratio). Don’t assume that state universities are the best bargain. Expensive private colleges have alumni donors and give the most financial aid through grants, bringing your total cost down, often less than the state university. Â Would it be more cost effective to attend a local community college for the first few years and transfer? Or would you prefer to work full time and attend college online at your convenience? Many brick and mortar colleges also have online degree programs. But be carefulâ€”make sure the degree program is fully accredited. Finding that “perfect fit” college requires planning, research and a little bit of intuition. But in the end, you’re paying for that education. You are the customer. You get to make the choice. Any smart consumer knows that purchasing with confidence is the key to getting the most for your money and the product (in this case education) that you were promised.