The concept of fit in a college or graduate program is very confusing to many Indian students, probably because it isn't a factor in choosing a college within India, and so it isn't a consideration when picking a program abroad. Instead, people look at rankings lists or try to find information about placements after completing college. When considering college as a kind of machine, a factory, which takes in raw material, or students, and produces, finished products, or jobholders, American colleges, and Universities, will not be very clear or comprehensible to the average Indian applicant. It is only by thinking beyond this concept that a student finds a school that is best for them.
The first thing to keep in mind when looking at colleges and graduate programs for fit is that American universities are not technical in the way their Indian counterparts are. The philosophy behind them is not to educate students in technical skills, but in transferable ones, so you can't look at an American school the way you would an Indian one. You can learn about gender studies, environmental sciences and robotics, all without giving up that practical major you want so badly. But you might not find options like PR, marketing, civil engineering, or you might find that your economics course is far more theoretical than you would have expected.
"The first thing to keep in mind when looking at colleges and graduate programs for fit is that American universities are not technical in the way their Indian counterparts are".
Most of the Indian students struggle with questions like- Do I want a big school, with primarily lecture classes or a small school with a ton of seminar options? Do you want to be in an urban space where the city can be a supplemental classroom or a campus-oriented space where you will have a lot of monitoring, guidance, and support? Do you want to be in a more international school or a more homogenous place? These questions knock out the big general stuff, and then you might have a smaller, but still overwhelming list like- Then, you start looking at the guiding principles of the program. How strong is the core program? What are the requirements, how much does the school require and encourage interdisciplinary learning?
If at all possible, it's a great idea to talk to an alumnus of a school and get a sense from them about the feeling of the college from someone who has recently experienced it. Many schools will put you in touch with alumni, and there are also tons of online forums for people to talk candidly and frankly about their experience with a school, which are magnificent resources for any applicant. Working with a company that can advise you and connects you with alumni can also be really helpful if you are struggling to navigate this process on your own. Remember the right school is that school that is right for you.
Adarsh Khandelwal is a Co-founder of Collegify. They help students to study in abroad by helping them with funding and scholarship opportunities. Collegify provides quality personalized services that make a student college ready.