Dear QB: What are myths about creating your perfect college list?

DearQBWe talk a lot about “college fit” at QuestBridge because we know how important it is for the next four years of your life … and beyond! Choosing a college that facilitates your personal happiness will greatly enhance your undergraduate years, and there are several factors to consider (financial, academic, social, geographic — to name a few!). Today, we’re debunking three common myths we hear about college fit:

Myth #1: There’s only one school for me.

With thousands of four-year colleges in the United States, it can be intimidating to know how to find the college that is the right fit for you. If you search all of these schools with the mindset that there’s only one for you, then that task becomes even more intimidating! The good news is that QuestBridge’s college partners are all great options, and you can certainly find more than one that are good fits. The key is to set goals and stay open-minded.

As you search for schools, take time to think about what you want to accomplish in college. Fill out this College Goals Questionnaire to help focus your college search.

Have your heart set on only one school? Watch Arkey’s story! Arkey originally applied to QuestBridge with the single goal of getting into Princeton, but ultimately found his college fit with Williams College — a college he had not previously considered! If you have your heart set on one school, take a step back and consider the specific factors that make it appealing to you. Then, search for other schools that share those same factors! You may find a new favorite…

Myth #2: Only research universities have the academic and professional opportunities I’m looking for.

It’s certainly not a myth that research universities provide great academic and professional opportunities. However, many students (especially STEM students!) overlook the outstanding opportunities available at liberal arts colleges and fail to even consider them as options.

Check out what Daniel Espino — a Computer Science and Math major at Vassar — has to say: “As a person who was interested in engineering and more STEM-type majors, I never really thought I’d be going to a liberal arts college. Now that I do, I realize that it’s a great option for anyone. Liberal arts colleges really stress the importance of being educationally, intellectually, and socially well-rounded, so they make it easy to be flexible with your education.”

We hear stories like Daniel’s all the time, so make sure to consider a variety of colleges in your college search.

Myth #3: The higher a college is nationally ranked, the happier I will be at that college.

While there are many great reasons to apply to top-ranked colleges, their national rankings alone should not determine whether or not you apply. Just as QuestBridge takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications, we encourage our applicants to take a holistic approach to reviewing schools.

Vanderbilt Admissions Counselor Zeben Ashton said it best: “You should know more than just a college or university’s rank. […] You should be able to tell anyone that asks at least 5 in-depth reasons why you would be happy at every school on your list.”

Whether or not a college is a good fit for you financially, academically, socially, and geographically is much more important to your overall happiness than a college’s rank.


Dear QB is an advice column for QuestBridge applicants and QuestBridge Scholars. To submit a question, email questions@questbridge.org with “Dear QB” in the subject line.