Why Applying to College is About Fit and Not Rank - J.T. Allen

In Chapter 17 of 17 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, education entrepreneur J.T. Allen answers "If You Had to Apply to College Again How Would You Do It?"  Allen, a Michigan graduate, shares that he has learned college is about fit and not just ranking.  He notes that even if he didn't get into his favorite school, he would have had a great college experience.  He notes it is about focusing on who you are and presenting yourself transparently to a prospective university.  J.T. Allen is the CEO and co-founder of myFootpath, a company that provides higher education online resources and call center services to help high school and adult learners choose academic programs in line with career goals.  Before myFootpath, Allen worked in strategy consulting for Ernst & Young.  He earned his BBA and graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.


Erik Michielsen:  If you had to apply to college again, how would you do it?

J.T. Allen:  That’s an interesting question because I think a lot of people look at competitive colleges and you know the hoops that everybody’s got to jump through these days and you know the favorite phrase that I hear is you know “I never would have got in to fill in the blank you know Harvard, Yale whatever,” wherever they went, right, their alma mater. I wouldn’t get into that. And you know I think what I’ve learned is that you know college really is, for many people it’s about kind of finding the fit you know. 

I mean look I’m the biggest University of Michigan fan around when it comes to college football and fantastic experience and you know wouldn’t trade it for the world.  The reality is if I didn’t get in to the University of Michigan I still would have had fun in college, it still would have been a great experience. 

So you know now when you look back at that you’re like you know you just have a different perspective on it.  You just got to know it’s going to work out and know as I think about applications and you know if there are any advice to tell people to do, really focus on who you are, right?  And if people don’t you know sort of want who you are, you don’t want them, right?  Because you’re going to have a bad experience, you know, you want to go where it’s a good fit for both sides and if you kind of have that in mind I think it makes it easier you know.  It takes the pressure off a little bit and you can just sort of focus on, “Alright, what am I all about?”