College planners study how to recruit you

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article this morning about a presentation at the Society for College and University Planning. The report claims to have studied hundreds of thousands of Canadian students to determine how they make up their minds about college. I’m a bit skeptical of the report because it’s based on surveys, and there’s a huge question as to whether you can get accurrate information after the fact about how college admissions decisions are made. When you think about it, many of you who are in your junior year are actively involved in the process now – others may even be working on your decision earlier (shudder). We colleges market you the whole time, and really pummel you with propaganda in your senior year, especially once you’ve been admitted. So a survey is usually a snapshot of a decision after six to twenty-four months of decision making. Even if it is true, it doesn’t tell us how you decide where to apply, only how you decide where to go…
Despite these concerns, look for some colleges to take this data as the gospel and start using it right away. The study claims that students can be divided into four kinds of decision makers: scholars, careerists, conflicted, and drifters. My experience is that most students have healthy doses of all four, but don’t be surprised if these new labels start to guide some of the letters you get. They also claim it impacts student performance in college, so maybe some schools will even use this in their admission process, in which case you want to be perceived as a “scholar”. Let the newest round of mutual manipulation begin! Be seeing you.


3 Responses

  1. Perhaps you are overthinking the entire application process. The process of maturing and going through college has really not changed over the years. The NUMBERS may be different, but that is about it. Did you know that the from the age of 18 to 22 a person experiences a great deal of maturity and self awareness? It seems from your blog that this is a phase of life that you have little patience with. Yet you appear to be passionate about GMU. Perhaps the post graduate community might be a better fit for your talents and passions?

  2. Of course students mature from 18 to 22. I’m not sure, however, how that’s relevant to the kind of marketing colleges use to recruit them, or whether the study referenced above has a valid point.
    Also not sure why anything in my blog raises your concern about my patience levels, although my thanks for the career advice. I have a lot of impatience with the current state of the admissions marketing process, which generally disadvantages students with the fewest resources while creating massive (and for the most part unnecessary) stress for everyone.
    As for changes over the years, I pretty much agree that students are the same, but there’s no denying that far more than the numbers have changed in the process. The sophistication of marketing efforts and the media-hype surrounding the admissions process are far different than what students had to deal with even a few years back.
    But thanks again – I’ll give your sage advice appropriate consideration…

  3. Hey Dean Flagel. I totally agree with your comment. While students haven’t changed that much, the college recruiting process has changed a ton. Schools pay up to 100 million dollars per year to market to students via the internet. This obviously changes the way students are given information about college and can sway their college choice. The colleges with the most marketing dollars (but sometimes the worst education) can recruit students that would be much better off somewhere else.

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