Flickr user Ron Cogswell

With over 2,000 universities spread out across the United States, it is impossible to have heard of them all. Chances are when you are researching universities that are a good fit for you to apply to you will come across several that you have not heard of. This can trigger the question—should you limit yourself to listing only colleges that you have heard of, or should you stretch the boundaries and look beyond those familiar names?

Experts suggest that students must look beyond the familiar when researching potential colleges. There could be many advantages associated with stretching your search parameters to those little-known universities.

You Could Discover A Hidden Gem That’s the Best Fit for You

As you research the better-known colleges, you may find that they tick MOST of the boxes on your list but not ALL. When you are done with the initial search and have to narrow your list down further, you have no option but to compromise and give up some of your preferences.

For example, if you are looking for an unusual combination of academic programs and extracurricular facilities, you may have to forego the extracurriculars. Or if a college has everything you are looking for but is located in the city, whereas you preferred a rural location, again, you would have to compromise on one or the other.

But what if you looked closer at those unfamiliar colleges? You could just get really lucky and find a college that has what you are looking for. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Ultimately, you are more likely to thrive and do your best when you are in an environment that is the best fit for you.

Constant Competition 

The most prestigious colleges are also the most competitive. Do you really want to spend 4 years in college struggling to keep up with a super-competitive and highly accomplished class of peers? Unless you have what it takes, it is not worth the stress.

On the other hand in a less-competitive setting, you will have more opportunities to shine and showcase your accomplishments. And in a smaller campus, knowing everyone on campus by first name can make you feel part of a community instead of just another number.

Financially, It Makes Better Sense

Lesser-known colleges typically have lower tuition fees. This can be a major factor in your choice of college. After 4 years you will graduate with less debt and will on your way to complete financial freedom at least a couple of years before your peers attending more expensive colleges. Additionally, finding the best college fit from the get-go reduces the chance of you transferring schools later on, which can rack up cost.

During your college search, don’t just scan the top ranked or the most familiar colleges. Instead, look beyond and learn more about colleges you have never heard of before. You’ll be surprised at what you may find.

To discover colleges that fit you personally, check out College Raptor’s free match tool!