Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Korean is vaguely disturbed by this article:
Over the last few years, the tiny College of Saint Rose in Albany has seen applications increase at least 25 percent annually, minority admissions rise and its standing in the U.S. News and World Report rankings climb more than 20 rungs.

Its secret? Lifting a page from the marketing playbook of credit card companies.

Last fall the college sent out 30,000 bright red “Exclusive Scholar Applications” to high school seniors that promised to waive the $40 application fee, invited them to skip the dreaded essay and assured a decision in three weeks. Because the application arrived with the students’ names and other information already filled in, applying required little more than a signature.
Colleges Market Easy, No-Fee Sell to Applicants (New York Times)

The Korean can see how it could help the students to get rid of some red tape, but... there is just no dignity in this.


  1. I can see your point about dignity... it does make the process seem a little cheap. On the other hand, it also encourages students to widen their prospects, which I think is a big plus.

    The article keeps going on about how this trend diminishes a time-honored process in which students carefully determine which is the best school for them, but honestly, I mainly remember how painful that process was, and it seemed to put all the power into the hands of the schools. The cost/effort required to apply to multiple schools forces students to put all their eggs in one or two baskets. Meanwhile, how much time and money has been spent by the student and his/her family visiting schools (maybe multiple times) in order to determine which couple of schools to gamble on?

    I find a scenario in which a student can apply to a number of schools easily and then choose carefully afterwards (with the knowledge that he/she is already accepted) pretty appealing.

  2. I would worry that a student would be more likely to pick a less suitable school because it made him feel special during the application time. Small things like that can color a person's perceptions unduly, especially in the absence of much other information. In particular, I worry that waiving a one-time $60 fee might persuade a student to go to an expensive private college instead of a good state school; so many students already leave college with debt they cannot handle. It's up to a student and his or her parents to be aware of this kind of internal bias.

    Other than cost, the choice of school probably doesn't matter much in the long run to the students. Most students would be happy at most colleges, and once you get beyond the upper tier of colleges, there are many schools which have basically identical reputations to employers. Colleges need to fund themselves, and I applaud them for thinking up a business strategy that is both good for their rankings and bottom line and good for prospective students.

  3. I, for one, would LOVE to get a guaranteed 3-week response time. How does increased efficiency correlate to a loss of dignity? It's time for the schools to wake the fuck up.

  4. Oh my gosh. I totally got one of those. Damn. I thought I was special. hahah. It's okay, though... I didn't even use the application.

  5. I find a scenario in which a student can apply to a number of schools easily and then choose carefully afterwards (with the knowledge that he/she is already accepted) pretty appealing.

    I totally agree with that. And waiving the cost is something that will definitely help appeal to students from all over the place. Asking people to pay money just to apply is a ridiculous concept anyway. However, calling it "Exclusive Scholar Applications" does sound terrible and removes a little dignity.


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