Admissions Officers as Matchmakers

Carnegie Higher Ed Nov 19, 2012 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

This past weekend marked the 12th anniversary of the night my husband and I met—I am thankful that my friend Jeannine seemed to know that he was a good match for me from the very beginning. In thinking about this night, it occurred to me that maybe Jeannine’s ability to sense the fit between us is what makes her so good at college admission! So perhaps admission officers are truly matchmakers.

I read a blog recently that talked about how much time admission folks take when reading and evaluating applications. It assured the applicants that they were more than just stats and numbers, and that most schools were taking a holistic approach to the selection process. I was left wondering if by personalizing the admission process, enrollment staffers were opening the door for applicants to take their decisions more personally. It’s a fine line—and that’s where I like to think that this matchmaking concept comes into play.

We have long thought about “fit” as a concept in the college selection process, but it is usually referred to from the student-side of things—finding the school that best fits. If college admission officers are actually matchmakers, they are approaching the decision from a “fit” perspective as well and if a student happens to get a rejection letter, it’s because the admission staff had the student’s best interests in mind and wants the candidate to find a school that would be a better fit.

While I know this is not the way that most declined applicants see it, each year a few admission officers across the country receive letters from students who were declined admission, thanking them for the rejection letter because closing that door opened up a better one for that individual. This makes me think about a man I knew—he was an upper-level administrator at an elite college, and kept a rejection letter from that same college in his office on campus. While at the time, I thought this was sort of weird, but it now kind of makes sense: if he had been admitted as an undergrad, he might not have had the life experiences that led him to a career at a school he truly loved.

So as students across the country are submitting their applications and admission officers are starting to read them, I think a quote from “Fiddler on the Roof” best summarizes my thoughts, “Well, somebody has to arrange the matches, young people can’t decide these things for themselves!” And so as you enter into reading season, maybe playing this in the background as you review applications will help you remember the true spirit of the process.

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