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150-Year-Old Seeks Someone Who Enjoys Books, Good Times, Studying and Tests

Times Staff Writer

A new online matchmaking service is trying to hook up those interested in intelligent discussion, Saturday afternoon football ... maybe a little particle physics. Minimum commitment: four years.

With Destination-U.com, a Brentwood college counselor and her venture capitalist son are matching high schoolers with colleges using the techniques of online dating services.

The idea is that students have a personality, and so do the schools they’re considering.

“Just like finding a spouse or making any big life decisions, a match needs to work for both,” said founder Toby Waldorf, who has advised college-bound students for nearly 15 years.

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Aspiring scholars are asked to complete a long survey that combines practical considerations with what Waldorf calls her “Barbara Walters questions.”

Big campus or small? Lecture halls or small discussions? Term papers or exams?

And yes, grades and test scores are big factors.

The patent-pending software, which is based on surveys of 18,000 undergrads, crunches the data and spits out a list of compatible schools from among the 2,100 four-year institutions of higher learning in the U.S.

Admission isn’t guaranteed. The program returns schools grouped into three categories: “safety,” “target” and “reach.”

At $79.95 per student, Destination-U Inc. might find itself in the “reach” category of ventures. But Chief Executive Greg Waldorf is no freshman when it comes to matchmaking services. His venture capital fund invested $2 million in Internet dating service EHarmony.com Inc., which uses extensive personality profiles to set people up.

If the site does its job well, customers may not need dating services later in life.

At Pomona College in Claremont, alumni relations director Nancy Treser-Osgood tells incoming freshmen to look around the room at their potential life partners -- about 10% of Pomona graduates find their mates on campus.

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“Not only will you find the perfect college match,” said Toby Waldorf, “but you might also find your spouse.”


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