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Searching for the Perfect Fit


There are approximately 2584 degree-granting 4-year institutions in the U.S.


Just like it takes several days or even weeks to write an excellent paper for your English or History class, the decision about whether and where to attend college takes a lot of preparation, planning and decision-making. And as with your paper, the best decisions are not made at the last minute, even though you can get into many schools at the last minute. So, whether these are the middle school or high school years for you or your student, it is never too early to begin thinking about college.


Imagine that I am showing you a coat. It is beautiful and well-made and would provide good protection from the cold. But if the coat belongs to my daughter, who is a size 4, it would be too small for me (let’s just say I am bigger than a size 4). If the coat belongs to Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, it would be too big. Neither coat would be a “good” coat for me because neither one would fit me; and a coat that fits me would not be a “good” coat for my daughter or for Dirk because it wouldn’t fit either of them.


The same is true for colleges! Usually, when a parent or student talks about getting into college, they mean getting into a “good” college; and usually, a “good” college means one that has a “good” reputation and that they have heard a lot about. But, there are approximately 2584 degree-granting 4-year institutions in the US, according to the National Center for Education (NCES) in an article updated as of May of 2017. How many of these can you be familiar with? Even if you count the 50 state universities plus all of the ones in Texas that you have heard of (like A&M, Baylor, Tech, North Texas, etc.), that still leaves more than two thousand schools out there that you have never heard of. NCES also says:


In Academic year 2015-16, some 28% of 4 year institutions had open admission policies

(accepted all applicants); an additional 29% accepted three-fourths or more of their

Applicants, 30% accepted from one-half to less than three-fourths of their applicants, and

13% accepted less than one-half of their applicants.


This means that 87% of all 4-year colleges and universities (2,248) will accept any given students, and that’s a lot of schools to choose from. The question is really no longer, “Where can I get in?” But “Where will I fit in?” We’ll talk more about that next time.


Center for Education Statistics. “Characteristics of Degree Granting Post-Secondary Institutions. NCES.ed.gov/programs/come/indicator_CSA.asp. Accessed 30 April 2017

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