How They Recruit You
I applied to a lot of colleges. Can admissions find this out? Will this lower my chances of acceptance? Or do colleges disregard this fact?
No, they won’t know, and they won’t care.
I’d like to know how colleges and universities target high school students for enrollment and how they market themselves to students.
Well, since this question comes to us from a college, perhaps it is a test to see whether we know the answer. The fact is, we could write a book on this subject, and it doesn’t really lend itself to a decent answer here. So, here’s a half-decent one.
College marketing is basically a funnel—big on one end, small on the other. The big end is the part where you, the student, say, “Gee, I’ve never heard of Podunk University.” The small end is the part where your mom and dad drop you on campus and say, “See you at Thanksgiving.”
A college has got to connect with you in some way. You have to call them because of their reputation or name recognition, or they have to generate your name through a host of marketing activities—from buying your name through The College Board (see below) to meeting you at a college fair—and everything in between.
Once you’re in their system, their next job is to get you to apply. They send you lots of stuff in the mail, maybe a video, maybe they even call you. You’re being recruited. On your end, you’re thinking, “Man, I’d love to get into this place.” On their end, they’re thinking, “Man, I’d love to get this guy to apply.” But once you’ve applied, they can sort of stick their noses in the air (if you’ve applied to one of those really fancy places). Maybe they’ll accept you, maybe they won’t. You sweat it out.
Then the big letters go out. You got in. So the college faces another job. Getting you to come there—because you got into a lot of other places, too. They may juice up the deal with some good financial aid. They may write, they may call. You’re in and they want you. Now they sweat it out because they gotta hope that they’ve accepted enough kids to fill their freshman class—or that they don’t end up with far more kids coming than they can handle. Of course, they’ve done this before, so they do know what they are doing.
There you go: the short course in college marketing.