Thursday, December 4, 2008

Congratulations! You've been pre-approved

Typically you'd expect to see that line on some ridiculous ripoff high-rate credit card application.  Somehow they get ahold of your info, prequalify you, so all you have to do is fill out some basic info and you're set. Colleges have taken a hint.  In the past 4 months I have gotten about two dozen of these types of applications from colleges, known as "streamlined", "choice", "elite", and "personalized" apps. The schools offer advanced admission and financial aid notices, shorter, less, or no essays, no need for recommendation letters, fewer questions, priority housing, and sometimes a waived fee. Sometimes they throw in a cheesy spiel before getting to the point to make be feel special. Oh gosh and if they happen to know I'm black and a female interested in engineering... I cringe reading "students like you" in that context. I assume the information used to prequalify potential students are solely based on standardized test scores. Most of them are written in the same exact format:

Seems like a great idea, right? It definitely makes applying to safeties easier. Most of these applications I'm getting are unfortunately from generic middle-of-nowhere schools that I've never heard of. Just as I was shortening my college list yet again, I get a few of these from schools that I was actually interested in at some point and now I'm applying to two more schools. Kettering's app only took like 10 minutes and at one point I was seriously interested in WPI. An acceptance letter won't hurt and it'll only cost me postage for transcripts.

It actually almost seems as if schools getting desperate at this point. The first letter is "hey have you heard of XYZ University?", followed by "why don't you apply to XYZ, we like students like you. We even have a streamlined application, aren't we cool and different!", turning to the stalkerish "hey we haven't heard from you. don't you like us? we like you!" and "okay, okay, we'll waive your fee and pretty much almost guarantee admission, just apply dammit!" Perhaps it's not that extreme, but it surely felt that way.

I'm sure none of the major schools will be picking up on this approach to admissions since these types of apps really don't reveal much about the student. I feel that it also cheapens the process and removes the desire to find a suitable connection between the school and the student. I'd definitely prefer for a school to admit me based on a holistic process taking everything in to account, rather than just the numbers. Is it convenient for both me and the school? Absolutely. Best approach? Probably not. I bet with some of these apps one could be admitted by a robot as opposed to a real admissions committee.

Welcome to the 21st century, folks!


Bob Calder said...

Hey, I thought you liked robots? I, for one, welcome...

Vivi said...

Forget if -you've- heard of XYZ University... ask if the rest of the world has heard of XYZ University -_- I oftentimes find only the small, no-name colleges bother to stalk people down - the large ones, whether private institutions like the Ivies or public state universities, don't have to worry about people applying - they get more than they can accept, haha. I made the mistake of giving out my e-mail address on the PSAT so my Gmail account practically got flooded with e-mails from no-name colleges, unfortunately.