Urgent deadlines and other holiday humbug

I realize that the holiday time should be filled with good cheer, but somehow marketing efforts during this period always manage to Grinch up my mood. I’m already, for instance, completely sick of the Best Buy ad with holiday carolers singing some wretched holiday ditty with the words replaced by excruciatingly cheery descriptions of the wonderful bargains available.

College and university recruitment are sadly not immune to this vandalization of holiday sentiment. Most of you will likely receive scads (a technical term meaning, “lots”) of holiday cards, postcards, emails, text, voicemails, and, possibly, carrier pigeons letting you know how very very deeply XYZ college and ABC University feel about you having a merry outlook.


Of course, to make sure you know just where our thoughts REALLY are, nearly all of these lovely missives (technical term meaning, “junk mail”) will remind you of an UPCOMING APPLICATION DEADLINE that YOU SHOULD NOT MISS. Also, BE VERY AFRAID of missing THIS URGENT DEADLINE because all of your friends, enemies, frenemies, and acquaintances have already applied because everyone (EVERYONE) wants to come to OUR school and you may be missing your ONLY CHANCE if you don’t ACT NOW.


Not that deadlines aren’t important…they are. And yes, I’ll insert the requisite shameless plug here that Mason’s final application deadline is January 15th. It’s not the deadline reminders that snuff my menorah – it’s the constant effort to elicit some level of panic in a process already chock full (technical term for, “very full”) of stress.

This is supported by media stories with bizarre statements like, “the admissions landscape is more unsure than ever before,” or, “competition for space will be tougher than ever this year.” In twenty years in admissions I have yet to get through this season without seeing these phrases used over and over again. I have no idea what the “admissions landscape” is (I picture a nice pastoral print), but I can tell you that competition is pretty much what it is every year – competition at many schools, less so others, and really easy at a bunch. Of course, you may not know which one is which, but why spoil all of the surprises?

In the spirit of the season, I’m going to try to forgive all my colleagues in admissions and the media who feed this frenzy, even the ones that send out really annoying holiday cards. In the meantime, I’m headed to Best Buy – I hear they have a great deal on Festivus poles, and I NEED to air my grievances…possibly while I’m in the store, and potentially in the form of a rewritten holiday carol. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Be seeing you.