“One size fits all.” When I see a sign like that I doubt it. More likely “One size fits none.”
This question of what will fit is surely appropriate when matching a student to a college, where it’s far more expensive to be mistaken than when choosing clothes. Come to think of it, when considering College Fit, maybe shoes are a better metaphor than clothes.
- When I settle in after a long day I might choose house slippers, to help me relax and forget my stresses.
- My daily shoes are supportive and comfortable. They take me through a busy day or an easy one. I know they’re right as soon as I slip them on.
- Saturday mornings bring running shoes to move through my day efficiently, even if I am just running errands. I want that extra bounce to feel effective.
- For a hike in the mountains I might tolerate some discomfort in return for ankle support and traction. Achievement is the goal, and too much comfort is not the order of the day.
When measuring a student for College Fit, it is critically important to accurately assess the student’s character and aspirations first. Sometimes the great challenge for families is to strip away expectations, ignoring the winds of college fashion that blow through high schools. Does the young person show signs of stress and anxiety – then what might be an appropriate college to slip into? Is the student efficient and effective, more workmanlike than brilliant, but not a striver – if so, what strengths can be reinforced at college where diligent focus will be highly rewarded? Is the college applicant a relentless and happy climber – what tools will be needed?
College fit is an art that begins with a clear eye on the student. Searchable data found on the web alone is no more likely to create a great College Fit than shopping unfamiliar shoe brands on the internet by size and color is likely to be satisfactory.