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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Alums create new tool to help students find “best-fit” college

<rleton is often lauded for its 89% four-year graduation, which ties for fifth out of all colleges in the nation. As a result, many students are unaware that the majority of American colleges graduate less than 60 percent of their freshman within six years - clearly an indicator that many students do not end up at the school that is the “best fit” for them. Yet despite this statistic, there are very few organizations or programs that intend specifically to match students with schools that might fit their interests better. As a result, findALMA, a new tool for high school students, was born to add clarity to the college selection process.

FindALMA is a tool developed by Kevin Hislop, ’92, and Georgia Lieber, with building assistance from two other alums as well as two colleagues from Harvard and Yale. “We wanted to increase parity in the college-search process,” said Hislop in an email. He explained that findALMA “easily takes into account all of a student’s salient personal and academic characteristics” in order to match them with colleges that fit them the best. The tool is unique in that, unlike better-known organizations like the College Board, it does not charge high schools or students to use its matching service. As a result, Hislop said, “findALMA will make [the college selection process] easier and more cost-effective for all students, regardless of their geography or socioeconomic status.” In fact, he continued, “we were amazed that such a site did not yet exist.” Fortunately, the “unique and valuable skills” of each team member have helped to make the site a reality. As a result, Hislop concluded, “we are confident it will succeed.”

When asked how the process will affect Carleton specifically, Hislop said that their new program “will increase awareness of Carleton among prospective students across the U.S. and internationally,” particularly those who appear to be a good match for the College. As a Carleton alum, he feels that he has a more thorough understanding of Carleton than of any other college.

His team is partnering with guidance counselors and teachers across the country. In addition, Hislop and his colleagues have sent and received thousands of questionnaires from college students all over the country, asking them about their social and academic satisfaction with their schools.

An additional aspect that Hislop and his colleagues are concerned about is financial aid. He notes that many prospective students are often unaware of the actual cost of attending a college, rather than the “sticker price.” As a result, many of them rule out schools that they might be able to afford if they applied for scholarships or aid. FindALMA, however, will “provide access to average out-of-pocket and sticker-price data” on every American college, as well as tools to help American families determine how much financial aid they might receive from each school. As a result, students will have a clearer idea of how they might feasibly afford a school.

College applications and admissions are two of the most important, stressful, and confusing aspects in the lives of a high school student. Although the majority of Carleton students clearly like their school, many of them probably wish that they had had an easier time with the college application process. Hopefully, findALMA will change this perception, “increasing parity in the college search process” by providing students with a more accurate financial, academic, and social view of a college or university.

For more information on findALMA, or to take the survey, please visit 

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