Value Judgment: A New Way to Think About College Fit

Finding a student’s best fit college goes beyond school size, location, and academic offerings.

For many Gen Z students, a school’s values play a key role in determining where they will attend.

Rising senior Jamie Margolin, for instance, is looking for a college that practices what it preaches when it comes to climate change.

“As a soon-to-be high school senior, I am working my butt off to get ready for college applications and, of course, the experience of college itself. But I have serious concerns about how my future school might be investing in fossil fuels and, if they can’t be convinced to divest by student activists like me, how that might render my college education useless,” Margolin writes in Teen Vogue.

She shares that she won’t consider attending a college that actively invests in the fossil fuel industry or that won’t share their investments publicly.

Other students look for schools that explicitly contradict their values. Attending offers them the opportunity to work to change minds and/or challenge their own beliefs.

Elyse Hutcheson told The New York Times that her time at Hillsdale College, a Christian college in Michigan, helped her realize she held liberal beliefs and was agnostic.

Jonah Shainberg said attending Notre Dame University (IN) as a Jewish man helped him discover how central his faith really was to his life.

“I think Notre Dame made me more Jewish,” he told the Times.

Read more about Gen Z and their unique relationship to higher education in the latest edition of The Journal of College Admission.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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