Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Unusual Similarities Between Dating and Choosing a College


You are looking for the perfect match, and so is that significant other that is waiting out there for you. You talk, visit with each other, send emails, and hope that it is a good match, both for you and for that special someone... or college. I know what you are saying, "How in the world is dating and college selection similar?", but trust me, it is not a big jump. In each situation, both sides are looking for a good fit.

In dating, you have a list of criteria you are looking for in a person, be it height, sense of humor, minty-fresh breath, etc. Some of you extremely picky people might have long lists, while others just list "have a pulse". It is the same in the college search process, with only the criteria changing (size of student body, location, cost, etc). Often times these criteria are somewhat malleable, as you might find a person who does not have the greatest cleaning habits (okay, he is a slob), but has a terrific sense of humor. College A might not have intramural kickboxing, your favorite sport, but everything else seems perfect.

In dating, everyone tries to put their best foot forward. You clean out the fast food wrappers and dirty clothes from your car before picking your date up, you wear clothes that at least smell clean (okay, this one is for guys), and you make sure your hair looks right. Now think about all the materials that you get in the mail from colleges. In the brochures, everyone is smiling, the weather is always perfect and the grass is always green. We don't run out to take pictures of the students sleepwalking to their 8 a.m. classes, coffee in one hand, baseball cap covering their "I just rolled out of bed" hair. And when you visit a campus, I am guessing you try to present yourself in the best light possible.

One key in both situations, though, is that generally, there is not just one good match, but a number of good ones. One of my co-workers, Charlie Carabello, likes to compare this to a Malcomb Gladwell talk about the search for the perfect spaghetti sauce. Both in dating and in the college search process, the idea of choice and multiple matches are key, and ultimately you select the one that fits you best. But remember that this is a two way street. If you think you have found a good match with a person and ask them out, they also have to believe it is a good match (and hopefully say yes). Same with the college selection, where both sides have to think it is a good relationship. Life can get a little messy when only one side thinks there is a good connection.

And finally, if that significant other said no when you asked them for a date, I am positive that you would not want one of your parents to call him/her and demand to know why she said no. In the same light, if a college says no, it is probably not the best thing to have one of your parents call and insist on knowing why you were not admitted.

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