College Undermatching

There’s a great article in “Inside Higher Ed” written by Scott Jaschik entitled “Admissions Mismatch” in which Scott discusses how many students are either undermatching at colleges or overmatching. If you’re wondering what is meant by undermatching or overmatching, undermatching is not applying to or attending the most prestigious school that will admit a student, while overmatching is applying to or attending a school that you’re not academically qualified for. College undermatching as well as overmatching are on the rise and it’s a trend that has been happening for a while.

University Undermatching, University Overmatching, College Overmatching

More and more students are undermatching and overmatching at colleges.

According to the piece in “Inside Higher Ed,” “The study — of a large national cohort of students — found 25 percent to be overmatching and 28 percent undermatching. In most cases, the study found, students and their families are responsible for the apparent mismatching that is going on. ‘Perhaps most surprising to us, student decisions drive mismatch in almost all cases. Most students who mismatch either do not apply to a well-matched school or apply and are admitted, but do not enroll,’ the authors write. ‘Typically students who are mismatched aren’t getting rejected by appropriate colleges: they are either not applying, or are getting in and opting not to enroll.'”

Many students who overmatch hail from more highly regarded high schools and more affluent communities. The same is not the case for students who undermatch. As the article in “Inside Higher Ed” points out, it’s not that these students are getting denied admission to more prestigious schools and so choose to undermatch. Often times, they don’t even apply to these more prestigious schools or, if they do, they choose not to go. Financing the tuition can be a major factor here. Do you think that’s one of the main reasons for undermatching? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting below!


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  • Ann says:

    Yes, I think the top reason for undermatching and overmatching is due to finances. With the cost of private college at more than $60,000 a year now, many “middle class” families can’t afford it. It is a big issue that is talked about quite a bit on College Confidential. Many parents are guiding their children to apply to financial safeties. Yes, these students will use the EFC calculator on the various web sites and perhaps apply to an Ivy that has a generous policy. Otherwise these students are looking at schools where they are overmatched in hopes of getting a scholarship. Many many students go through the college application process this way.

  • John Doe says:

    I was a great student at the high school level, with a GPA of 4.2. However, my SAT scores weren’t all that great. I was accepted into the best school in Georgia, but only because my school district had a special program with the institution. The program allowed for the Valedictorians and Salutatorians of each high school to be automatically accepted into the school. I decided to take the offer because I came from an inner city school district and wanted a world-class education. But, my first semester was torture since I had to drop a class because it was getting too difficult and other classes were really getting the best of me. It also didn’t help that I had to commute and it took an hour to get home. I wished I knew that going to an over matched school was probably not the best decision.

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