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This ‘Marriage Pact’ survey is pairing college students with potential partners

For decades, college has been a common place for people to find their life-long partners. According to a study released in 2021 by Facebook Data Science, 28 percent of people attended the same college as their spouse. This makes sense — it’s an environment where students are surrounded by others their age and they likely share some of the same values and interests if they chose to attend the same school. However, with only a four-year timeline, many students feel stressed about finding a partner before graduation.

In November 2017, two students at Stanford University created an algorithm to match up students based on their responses to a 50-question survey. Sophia Sterling-Angus and Liam McGregor named it “The Marriage Pact.” The Marriage Pact is supposed to serve as a backup plan — if you and the person you match with are both single in a certain number of years, you’ll have someone to “fall back on,” someone you’re highly compatible with. As part of the final project for their economics class, they sent the survey to Stanford students; within 4 days, half of the undergraduate students had taken it.

Unlike typical dating apps, the Marriage Pact questionnaire asks about communication styles, values, and conflict resolution. The questions are also tailored for each campus. For instance, the questionnaire given to Georgetown students includes questions about politics and ambition, whereas the Stanford pact may ask about things like careerism and spontaneity. This approach helps students look beyond physical characteristics such as height, body type, and hair color, and focus more on someone’s character. 

The Marriage Pact reports it has spread to 88 campuses across the U.S., has been taken by 488,678 participants, and made 233,919 matches. Participating schools release an annual survey that stays open for one week. At the end of that week, students are sent the name, email address, and compatibility percentage of the person they matched with. 

In 2022, the company received $5 million in seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and other investors. This funding could significantly boost the company and pave the way for new relationship technologies.

A rising college sophomore from Charlotte who attends New York University said she filled out the Marriage Pact when it opened on her campus this spring. The guy she matched with sent her an email, but she said she looked him up on social media and wasn’t impressed with what she saw – so she opted not to reply to his email, and downloaded Tinder instead. Another rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill completed the Marriage Pact, but ended up with a friendship pact instead because there were more female participants than male.

Despite these experiences, the Marriage Pact has seen some success. About 30% of matches decide to meet in person, and 1 in 9 of those end up dating for a year or longer. There are numerous stories of successful pairs that have gone on to date and get married.  Will most Marriage Pact pairs eventually find love and lifelong companionship after all? Only time will tell.

About the Author

Cecilia is EWC's Operations Assistant and a student at James Madison University.

"I'm currently a marketing major at James Madison University, so the challenges and excitement of applying to college are still fresh in my mind! I'm learning so much about entrepreneurship with each new task I tackle. I also enjoy being able to share the perspective of a recent college applicant with the EWC team. I remember how confusing applying to college felt (I graduated from Ardrey Kell in 2023), and I'm happy to be able to work with a business whose mission is to make it less stressful and more joyful! In my free time, I enjoy playing the violin, hanging out with friends, and crocheting."


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