When I sit down with students during an initial consultation, after I ask many questions about grades, test scores, favorite and least favorite subjects, and extracurricular activities, the question that usually prompts smiles on the face of families and surprises on the face of students is: In a perfect world, that we do not live in, what does your perfect college look like? 

I specifically point out that I am not looking for the name of a particular college, but rather characteristics that seem appealing to your student. While most students are not sure where they want to go to college or what they want to study, they do know what is appealing and what is not. Digging into what they do know can help create a diverse and meaningful preliminary college list.

Here are some key questions to ask and think about with your student as you develop options to explore: 


Does your student want a college in a city, suburb, or rural community? Do they want to be a car ride away or are they okay with flying back and forth from home to their college? How far from home is too far? How close is too close? How much are you willing to spend on transportation costs to and from college? 


Does your student imagine being on a small campus with 2000 students or less, or a campus that has more than 35,000 students? Do they want their class sizes to be in lecture halls for 200 or more students or would they prefer all their classes to be 25 students or less? 

Student Activities

What do you want to do when you are not in class? What activities are really important for you to have access to? Does the Greek Life system (fraternities and sororities) seem appealing? Do you want there to be a large sports culture? Is a diverse music and arts scene ideal? What activities can be done on campus and what options are off-campus? 

Residential Life Options 

Does your student want to live on campus throughout college? How many students live on campus in their first year versus their senior year? Do students move into off-campus apartments at some point in their careers? Do you need to have vegetarian/vegan/Kosher/Halal/allergy-free food options? 

Religious Life Options

What campus ministries are available to serve your student’s religious preferences? Are there regular faith-based services available to students? How prevalent is religious life on campus or part of the college’s mission? 

Career Development Opportunities 

Does the college offer internship programs as part of their academic requirements? What companies recruit on campus for future employees? What preparation does the college offer that help students find and secure jobs? 

In addition to some of these characteristics, students and families must also explore the college selectivity, academic programs, support programs, and financials. To help navigate the complexities of this data along with the characteristics of the ideal college experience, please reach out to us to schedule an initial consultation which includes a 1.5 hour face-to-face meeting with your student and a comprehensive, preliminary college list with detailed plans for moving forward in the college application process. Schedule a complimentary, 15 minutes call today to learn more about this opportunity.