Matchmaking—finding the fit between a student and a college—is one of the best ways to ensure a less stressful, more successful college process. When you find colleges where you could be happy and successful, that fit your budget (or where you’re likely to receive need- or merit-based aid), and where your chances of admission are strong, you set yourself up to have many great college options from which to choose. Matchmaking puts you in charge of your college process.
But matchmaking doesn’t work in reverse.
“What is Harvard looking for?”
“Would Northwestern want me to go to a summer program or get a part-time job?”
“Will my chances of getting into Chicago be better if I declare a major in math?”
Questions like those come from students attempting to matchmake in reverse. They want to change themselves to fit the colleges they like instead of finding schools they like that already fit.
I’m not suggesting that students should rest on their laurels. When you work hard to improve your grades, when you raise your test scores, when you make an impact in activities you enjoy—you’re exerting efforts that could add potential colleges to your list and improve your chances of admission at many schools.
But you shouldn’t fundamentally change your interests, your activities, or your future plans just to fit what you think one college wants. Reverse matchmaking isn’t effective or healthy. It gives too much control to colleges and too little confidence to applicants who are left feeling that they don’t measure up just being who they are.
Instead of matchmaking in reverse, make matches moving forward. Challenge yourself. Work hard. Commit to activities that matter to you. Then find colleges that fit who are predisposed to like you just the way you are.