Colleges’ marketing machines overwhelm, mislead students November 30, 2010 — by Kim Tsai In early December, junior Kellie Chiou rifled through her mail, placing junk mail in one pile and important mail in another. In her growing pile of junk mail were several letters from colleges, all claiming how great each was. Among others, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern University and MIT seemed to guarantee her acceptance into their ranks. In early December, junior Kellie Chiou rifled through her mail, placing junk mail in one pile and important mail in another. In her growing pile of junk mail were several letters from colleges, all claiming how great each was. Among others, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern University and MIT seemed to guarantee her acceptance into their ranks. The problem was that the colleges were not in fact guaranteeing her acceptance. Like many other letters from colleges, the aim was to lure students like Chiou into applying. As many juniors are finding out, college marketing has become a big-time annoyance. Why all the marketing? The goal is simply to raise the number of applicants and increase the selectively of the school. But too often students misread the marketing as indicating a valid chance at acceptance at some elite schools. Although the influx of applicants provides colleges with more money, colleges should be genuine in their desire to improve their college, not just attract more students. Frequent e-mails and mailings are sent to show how amazing schools may appear. This mild form of propaganda makes it difficult for future college applicants to determine how good a school actually is. What students should be doing is relying on truthful reviews, which are often hard to find. Inter-college competition urges colleges to improve campuses and classes, but when colleges turn to easier, less truthful methods of improvement, their integrity drops. Are colleges trustworthy if all they are interested in is improving statistics and not actual classes? Colleges should start cutting back on advertising the glories of their school. Not only does it bring them a negative image, but it also leads students to believe false things about them. Students begin to apply to 15 or 20 schools, sending applications unnecessarily. If colleges continue to use untruthful methods to appeal to future applicants, who is to know what they will do in the future? Colleges should focus on improving their schools, thereby improving their stats. This new way of improving statistics misleads students into thinking colleges are better than they really are. Students should not fall into these advertisement traps. In the end, Chiou has ended up ignoring many advertisements from colleges and putting more and more brochures in the recycling bin.