The Frederick Gunn Student Newspaper

An Open Letter to College Admissions Teams

By Maddie Aitken ’19

“Maddie, only 4 days left!”

“Maddie, your response is critical.”  

“It’s not too late, Maddie!”

“Maddie, there’s still time…if you act fast!”

“See why talented students like you, Maddie, choose us.”

“Today’s the day, Maddie!”

These are the subject lines of the emails that flood my inbox everyday. This phenomenon of colleges sending out promotional emails weekly, if not daily, to try to get students to apply is one that is familiar to high school juniors and seniors across America. Every day, I get emails from colleges, sometimes numbering more than 10, most of which I’ve never heard of and am not considering applying to.

It’s ironic that colleges work so hard to sell themselves to high school students, because the entire college process is high school students selling themselves to colleges. And their emails aren’t even very successful at the whole selling thing.

If a college uses my name in the first line of an email, I might feel important. But as I keep reading, I realize this email – and all the rest of them – were quite obviously written for a mass audience. Then I think about the 3.6 million American students graduating high school this spring, and the hundreds of thousands of them that probably received the very same email. At this point, I don’t feel so special anymore. And I’m certainly not convinced I “must come visit” so I can “imagine the future.” I can “imagine the future” from the comfort of my own room, thank you very much.

One of my favorite emails from the past two years had a subject of “You’re adventure is waiting…,” with, yes, the wrong form of your. I won’t expose the college, but if I could give them one piece of advice, it would be to get a proofreader. I wasn’t exactly planning on applying before I got the email, but after knowing they didn’t understand a basic grammar rule that an elementary school kid could probably teach them, I definitely didn’t want to go there.

Other great emails are the ones that say they’re from a specific person’s name, rather than the name of the college or university. I’ve gotten a few of those, and thinking it may pertain to one of my actual applications, I’ve opened the email and started to read, until I realize, oh wait, nope, it’s just another college trying to market themselves to me.

These emails are in addition to the mountains of snail mail that come to my house. Every time I go home for a break or long weekend, there’s a new pile of college mail waiting for me. They all boast the same things they do in their emails, like “The pursuit of better begins here” and “You’ll be studying alongside some of the brightest, most motivated students in the world.”

The best part of this whole thing is I only signed up for promotional emails from a few colleges I was legitimately interested in. The majority of the emails I get are from colleges I’ve never heard of, colleges who acquire the email addresses and mailing addresses of prospective students through the College Board and the ACT.

I think someone should tell colleges that no one actually reads their emails or looks at their mailings. Well, I did the first few times I got an email or a brochure, but by the 47th “You’ll love it here, Maddie!,” it’s a little excessive.

Maybe if colleges stopped spending so much money putting together mailing packets and sending them out, as well as acquiring our email addresses after we take the ACT or SAT, they wouldn’t have to make their tuition so high, and I could actually afford to go to their school.

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