The College Mailing Flood

Drexel University. Gardner-Webb University. Randolph-Macon College. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bridgewater College. Virginia Wesleyan College.

These and other esteemed four-year schools are wooing my 10th-grade daughter with letter after letter after letter. She recently scored pretty well on the PSAT, which now makes her the target of college admission offices all along the Eastern seaboard. So instead of being the writer for colleges as I often am, I’m the recipient of materials from colleges. It’s a valuable perspective.

My two realizations: 1) As a parent, it’s hard to differentiate between these competing schools–at least on the basis of their initial mailings. 2) As a writer, it’s a sobering reminder of the extreme difficulty of breaking through the clutter.

All the letters and mailings are professional in appearance and use audience-appropriate language. They’re well written. They all offer a kit of some kind or point to a URL for more information. But which, if any, will produce any action? It’s hard to say at this point.

Some, like Drexel for instance, just keep mailing (or at least it seems that way). They send the next mailing in the succession of mailings, as if you requested something. Maybe it works. All other things equal, frequency and followup increase response. You have to keep mailing and emailing to be noticed more than others.

With another two and a half years to go before my daughter heads off to college, I realize this seeming flood is probably just a trickle compared to what’s yet to come.

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