Do All These Colleges Really Want My Child?

Feb 18, 2011

The deluge of college advertising material is in full force for high school juniors (and some sophomores) around the nation.   

Columbia University

Mailboxes, both physical and virtual, are being crammed full by well-known and unknown colleges alike.  What does this all mean? 

If you remember your Marketing 101, colleges and universities are basically utilizing the Funnel Principle of Marketing and Sales.  They are casting their nets wide in order to attract as many high school juniors as possible.  They have purchased your student’s information from Collegeboard or ACT…remember the SAT Reasoning, ACT, Advanced Placement, PSAT, or SAT Subject tests your student took? In addition to requesting information by test scores and interests, colleges also request student’s information according to zip code, gender and ethnicity, etc.  This allows colleges to focus their advertising dollars on their desired target markets while generating a large enough pool of (hopefully qualified) applicants from which to choose their freshman class. 

What should you do with all the postcards, brochures and letters littering your kitchen table (or your student’s inbox)?  First of all, don’t let your student ignore them.  Take a minute or so to see what the college or university has to offer.  Your student might discover a college he or she hadn’t considered or a summer enrichment program that he or she would enjoy.  However, beware of colleges that offer express or free applications.  They might just be interested in boosting their admissions profile. 

Be a smart consumer.  Don’t be swayed by the frills, but do take this chance to get to know more about the various options for higher education.