The week before May 1 – stress and marketing

You may not realize it, but this is, for most admissions deans and directors, the most stressful weekend of the year. It’s the last weekend before the May 1st national reply date – that arbitrary day we’ve pretty much all agreed is the day by which our admitted students have to let us know whether or not they have selected our school. This seems only fair – after all, we’ve been making applicants sweat for months, so not it’s our turn to wait.

Of course, we don’t want EVERYONE we admit to pick our school. We use a whole slew of statistical analysis to determine which students will, which won’t and which might…then we use that to determine how many students to admit…a number much larger than the number of spaces in our class. How much larger varies by your statistical analysis, but it may be double, triple, or even four times the number of spaces.

At the same time we know how disastrous it can be for our institutions if we admit too few and under enroll. Whether being over or under is worse depends on the institution’s budget, capacity, and whole slew of other factors.

Even though the decisions have mostly been made, there is still plenty to think about. I’ve been working on final efforts all day: content for last minute emails, phone calls, text and even Facebook messages. We’ve pretty much communicated with all of our admitted students constantly for months, so what is left to say? Do we repeat all the vast benefits of a Mason education, highlight the incredible residence life, tout the raw charisma of the dean? So many choices…

The schools with the most sophisticated and elaborate marketing plans and systems will do it all – trying various messages to various populations (although usually targeting, not testing, but that’s a tale for another day). Most schools, however, will just take their best guess as to what’s going to work best. Then we wait and we stress. Also, we take a vast amount of anti-acids. Even those of us (like me) with deposits that look very strong, close to our projections, everything going along fine (of course it is – Mason is where EVERYONE wants to be!), still don’t know how it will really look for sure by the end of the week. So if you received an admission letter from me, this would be a great time to go ahead and submit your enrollment confirmation. Now if I can just find the right text for my email…Be seeing you.


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