The College Match Program (CMP) was designed to respond to the undermatching problem by encouraging academically capable students to choose colleges where they are likely to thrive and graduate. CMP proactively delivers crucial information, supports students as they navigate the complicated college and financial aid application process, and helps students and parents make thoughtful decisions about college enrollment.
CMP targets students who are prepared for college but need advice and support to choose the right college. Importantly, CMP is not focused on getting students into the most elite colleges and universities; rather, CMP seeks to increase the rate at which students apply to, are admitted to, and enroll in “match” colleges that fit their academic profile and meet their financial and personal needs. In many cases, CMP works with students who expected to enroll in a two-year community college — or did not plan to attend college at all. CMP advisers help those students understand that a selective four-year college is a practical, affordable, and superior option.
Beginning in the spring semester of a student’s junior year and extending through high school graduation, College Match delivers services through a combination of workshops and counseling by specially trained College Match advisers. These advisers replicate what is available to help students in more affluent schools and homes make informed decisions about college enrollment.
While CMP targets a relatively small percentage of high school students, those students represent the “low hanging fruit” of the large population that is struggling to reach and complete college. By helping low-income and first-generation students choose a college that best meets their needs, MDRC hopes that the lessons learned will support efforts to help a much larger student population make wise college choices in the future. Moreover, CMP’s highly personalized approach may ultimately prove more cost-effective than passive, technology-driven college advising strategies. At a minimum, MDRC believes there is value in rigorously testing and comparing a variety of approaches to combat the undermatching problem.