Finding The Right Fit

Max Jackson

The SALT Center is eager to share our approach with other professionals in the field. This year, Dr. Rudy M. Molina, Jr. (Former Director) and Max Jackson (Admissions Coordinator) presented on the topic of learning differences and college search anxiety at the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of America’s 54th Annual International Conference in Baltimore. The mission of LDA centers on creating opportunities for individuals with learning differences via advocacy (LDA, 2017). The topic of anxiety during the college search was relevant to this audience, both conceptually and on a practical level, and we were honored to share our professional insight. Below is a summary of what we presented:

Students today apply to more colleges than ever before, sometimes 10 or more at once. At the SALT Center, our Admissions team utilizes an application review process that ensures our services will match a candidate’s academic support needs. Don Hossler (1984) defines student-institution fit as a strategic process where a student evaluates if a desired college finds equilibrium between the specific academic program (major), the institutional environment (cost, distance, size), and support services (tutoring, etc.). Our student-centered work helps applicants determine whether the UA and SALT Center will be the best fit for them.

A helpful strategy to manage the college search process is to break it down into a series of steps, and then find a method to manage those steps that works for you. However, because applying to college is an incredibly complex process, and determining the best fit is often difficult, it can be especially daunting to students who learn differently. Evidence from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2017) suggests that anxiety may accompany learning and attention challenges, such as AD/HD. To put it simply, when you feel anxious, working memory capacity diminishes. This can affect your ability to follow directions or remember how to complete multi-step tasks (MacLeod & Donnellan, 1993).

Developing a college search strategy that minimizes anxiety begins with answering some questions about yourself, like: “Am I ready to begin making independent decisions while attending college?” or “What kind of support services will I need to be most successful?” After you uncover answers to these questions and prepare to apply to colleges, find a system to keep important information at your fingertips. Often, a journal, poster board, or an Excel spreadsheet will work wonders!

Depending on the institution’s admission policies, timely completion of an application may result in a faster admission decision. This will allow you to visit that college, gauge whether or not it is truly the right fit, and commit sooner. Ultimately, when the application and enrollment steps are complete, it is about finding the best fit for you and then learning to manage the expectations of being a college student in healthy ways.

If you would like more information about these college search tips, please feel free to email our Admissions Coordinator, Max Jackson, at Best of luck (you’ve got this)!


Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). (2016). About ADAA [Facts and Statistics]. Retrieved from facts-statistics.

Hossler, D. (1984). Enrollment Management: An Integrated Approach. New York, NY: College Board Publications. 69–89.

Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA). (2017). About Us [Mission Statement]. Retrieved from

MacLeod, C., & Donnellan, A. M. (1993). Individual differences in anxiety and the restriction of working memory capacity. Personality and Individual Differences, 15(2), 163–173. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(93)90023-V.

For more information about the SALT Center admissions process, visit
For more information about LDA, visit