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Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Can College Marketing Be Too Promiscuous
In his November 22, 2014 NY Times column, Frank Bruni muses about the dating metaphor that is now college admissions. I've quipped about this myself, writing of the ways in which the search for the right "fit" is much like our quest for finding the right partner in life. Bruni's take is a bit darker.
He claims that colleges have rigged the system to lure students in, only to reject them at the gate. The reason is simple, and well-documented: by increasing the number of applicants without actually being able to offer more spots on the roster, they are making themselves look more selective. The lower the acceptance rate at the college, the higher they shoot up in the rankings. It's kind of like the college version of playing hard to get.
Technology has made this game easier for the universities. The Common Application allows students to submit the same essay to dozens of colleges all at once. And why not cast a wide net? Admission is so competitive, there may seem to be no other choice. But Bruni points out the darker side of the college marketing scheme. Emails that literally lure students into thinking they have a fast track into admission.
"Candidate's Choice Application". "VIP" applications. These are the types of headings being spammed to college hopefuls. Reminds me a little of the old sweepstakes mailings that promise "you may already be a winner", when the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
So yes, college marketing can be too promiscuous. It should serve as a reminder to students to trust their instincts, like they would with any relationship. If the fit just isn't right, don't push it. You probably already know your limits and your needs, and aiming too high or too low won't do anyone any favors. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Move on.
For Bruni's full blog post: Ny Times >
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