On the Radar

A lot of high school students that I speak with are hesitant to sign up for college mailing lists.  They avoid it because they understand the purpose of advertising and they don’t want to be marketed to; instead, they want to conduct their own research (and/or have me help them with their investigations) without benefit of the pre-packaged “Enroll NOW!” college commercials that they fear will arrive the moment the college has their name and home address.

This was a pile of marketing materials one of my students received from a group of colleges she was interested in.

To a certain degree, I agree with my students when it comes to college marketing.  (If you’ve worked with me long enough, you’ve  already heard me say that all college brochures – to a certain degree – look the same.  They’re Photoshopped to perfection, it’s perpetually a beautiful autumn day, and the students all look happy and diverse.)  But I still strongly encourage each and every one of them to sign up for the mailing lists (snail mail and e-mail) of the colleges and universities that they plan to visit and hope to apply to for two reasons:

1)  Despite the fact that they are marketing pieces, school brochures and informative e-newsletters are still FACTUAL.  Colleges and universities might shape the information they publish and send to prospective students (that is, they might emphasize strong placement rates to graduate school and de-emphasize some large class sizes for freshman), but they don’t lie.

What’s more, each and every school has something noteworthy that it’s known for, that it’s proud of, or that makes it stand out from the other colleges you may look into that seem similar in terms of the education they offer and opportunities available for campus life.  These special characteristics or programs or campus traditions are exactly what they’re going to tell you about in their publications – so as someone who might potentially join their student body, it’s best you find out about these things early to see if they appeal to you!

2) Signing up for school mailing lists lets them know that you’re interested in them!  It sounds like a very simple idea, but schools like to admit students who want to go there.  (Can you blame them?)  As such, each college and university maintains a database of information on their prospective students and within each file is a section where they track those students’ expressions of interest.  Is the student receiving mail from the school?  Has he or she made the effort to visit campus or reach out to an admission officer at a local college fair?  If the riding team is a school-sponsored (varsity) sport, has the student filled out a recruitment form to get on the coach’s radar?

Demonstrating your desire to enroll at a particular school through such outreach will not only help you learn more about them, but it can also help make your case for admission when your application comes across the admission officer and/or director of admission’s desk.  For example, if you’re a student who lives in Buffalo, NY (a region known widely for it’s snowy winters!) and you apply to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles without having first gone through the steps of joining the mailing list, visiting (if funds allow), or reaching out to the university prior to the arrival of your application, it’s entirely possible for an admission officer to think that you’re just someone who’s tired of the cold and wants a warmer climate for four years.  He or she might then move your application aside in favor of a student from Michigan (a state where winter is also known to be harsh) who has indicated a strong interest in the university since their junior year.

The bottom line is that the college search process is one that you must commit to fully if you hope to find the perfect college for you – and committing fully means that you have to engage in a bit of give and take with the schools you’re looking at.  As an equitation trainer that I know is fond of saying, “When you get in the show ring, you have no control over the judge’s opinion or how the class will turn out.  What you do control is all of the factors that go into your performance – making sure that you have the right look, you’ve acquired the right skills, and that you know your course inside and out.  So be sure you take control of all of those factors to give yourself the best possible chance for your desired result [a win].”

The same goes for college mailing lists, so sign up today!  (Want help to guide you in taking control of your college search process?  Contact me!)


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