September and school season are well and truly underway, and with a high school junior living in our house, so is the flood of college brochures. I know that twenty-*cough-cough-cough* years ago, I must have received my own share of collegiate junk mail, but I was so focused on going to Michigan that I didn't really look at any of them. Now that I'm going to be the one writing the checks, however, I'm paying closer attention to the invitations in the mailbox. Boy, of course, is ignoring most everything that comes addressed to him; like me, he's only thinking of Michigan. So I'm going to be the one to inform you about the current state of university propaganda. These came in standard-size letters unless otherwise marked.
Colorado School of Mines: The message basically says: We're engineers!
Northern Michigan: A brochure with pictures; translation: We do have girls way up north!
University of Chicago (1): The envelope was addressed to "the parents of Boy." But the letter says "you might thrive in our vibrant environment." Maybe the exciting online quiz will settle it.
Loyola of Chicago: Oooh, an interactive online quiz, "check it out now, Boy!"
Illinois Wesleyan: We're highly rated and have high graduate placement!
University of Rochester: bigger envelope; "our curriculum has no required subjects" (boldface theirs), plus lots of research money and low student/teacher ratios.
Miami (Florida): another quiz! and we can send you text messages!
U of Georgia: on the envelope: "request your movie poster." On the inside, for Boy: "Athens, #1 campus scenes that rock." For us: "honors fellows receive a nearly full scholarship."
Tulane: Geez, another online quiz to help you find the right school/major for you?
Albion College (1): on envelope: "What kind of thinker are you?" "Are you a true thinker?"
Hofstra U: another "discover your interests" and "what to look for in a college" quiz. Gee, I wonder if the answer is "Hofstra"? And at least now I know it's in New York.
Otterbein College (OH): a postcard-sized, magazine-style brochure touting the usual.
Denison U (OH): Selected as one of 40 "colleges that change lives." P.S., merit-based scholarships!
U of Kentucky (1): "see why UK is well on its way to becoming a Top 20 research university" ... um, call back when you are one?
Case Western Reserve (OH, 1): we're considered a great producer of grad students.
Capital University (OH): Folded brochure, postcard size. Pretty generic.
Ohio Northern: Another, thicker folded postcard-size brochure. Magazine layout.
Vanderbilt (1): Bigger (half-magazine), lots of pretty pictures, lots of rankings.
"The" Ohio State University: 8x11 envelope did get Boy's attention: "Can I burn it and put it on YouTube?" Brochure with no gimmicks, just lots of details.
Wayne State U: shiny foldout brochure, basic "how to apply" plan.
Case Western (2): large postcard saying come meet a counselor.
U of Chicago (2): fold out postcard, a few stats, quote from play
MIT (1): this one also got Boy's attention: big 8x11 foldout into huge shiny poster.
Albion (2): 8x11 envelope, letter stressing high rankings, shiny brochure with more basics.
Kentucky (2): We're still trying to be Top 20. By 2020, after you graduate, so tough luck there.
Reed College (OR): winner for furthest away! 8x11 envelope; letter stresses fun atmosphere (our nuclear reactor has a rubber duck floating on top!) yet the brochure has boring periodic tables and online resources.
Kentucky (3): Really? Three letters? But hey, "you are likely already eligible to receive an academic scholarship," and this time there's no "almost top 20."
U of Chicago (3): another quirky postcard.
Vanderbilt (2): bigger postcard, mostly about financial aid.
U of Michigan...: yay! U of M! ...Dearborn. Aw, crap. But now we know the AP History score is worth 3 credits, or $972.
MIT (2): postcard inviting us to meet a rep locally. Boy said yes.
Kentucky (4): Okay, now you're just sounding desperate. Even if this time you actually give a personal username and password.
Washington U (St. Louis): ooh, this online survey is "backpack secrets of top scholars"!
So, a pretty broad mix of small liberal arts schools and big state universities. Appeals to money, prestige, fun, grad-school potential. Magazine graphics, online quizzes, statistics. And still, Boy didn't want to open a single one of them.