Monday, December 3, 2007
More applications, more rejections, more money
Johns Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, the real Johns Hopkins University, sends pleas to high school seniors.
Johns Hopkins wants you to apply for "the most amazing four years of your life."
The six-page, full color brochure must have cost a fortune. And the university is sending them out indiscriminately. Why?
Johns Hopkins isn't the only university to engage in this practice. Most of the ones that self advertise are either schools you've never heard of, schools you'd never consider, or both.
After the first few letters, high school students start throwing out the solicitations unopened.
By now, after undergoing SATs, SAT IIs, ACTs, "How to succeed at SAT" classes, private tutors, and several weeks or months of anxiety, most of those applying to college have already settled on their favorites. Or at least, the favorites to which they think they can gain admission.
So here's Johns Hopkins, one of the most selective of the selective, begging the poor student to spend another $60 or $70 to apply to a university that costs around $50,000 a year.
Out of about 14,000 applicants, fewer than 4,000 are admitted, and 1,207 end up attending.
Here are some universities that don't send out unrequested promotional materials: Yale, Harvard, the rest of the Ivy League, Reed, Williams, Oberlin, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and on and on and on.
Their attitude is "If you don't know who we are, then you're unfit to go to school here." Unfit to take Western Civ, room with an ominous eccentric, play "residence hall" hockey, seal someone in his room with a pile of beer cans, and the rest of the college experience.
The National Guard has a well thought out mailing. Many pretty young women apparently enroll in the Guard, despite what you may think. The Guard brims with possibilities for betterment: education, experience, discipline, service. And, oh yes, (you may have to try to kill people who are trying to kill you). That last part escapes mention.
It's easy to see why the National Guard needs to promote itself. But Johns Hopkins?
The accepted theory of college solicitations is that enlarging the applicant pool while accepting the same number increases the appearance of selectivity. The higher the selectivity, the higher the tuition can be.
But Johns Hopkins? What's up with that? Huh?
Just another one of the strange, inexplicable, and mystifying parts of the college application process.