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By John Raftrey And Lori McCormick

Please Apply So We Can Reject You!

Uploaded: Feb 10, 2020

This is the time of year when juniors are hit with all kinds of college marketing propaganda. Some of it makes it sound like the school is ready to admit the student. To paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to the Admission Officer behind the curtain.” Don’t fall for it.

Colleges send optimistic marketing materials to many students who have no chance to get into that school. This is unconscionable, unethical and mean. Think about it, colleges’ selectivity is measured by how many applicants they reject. So, the more who apply, the more who get rejected.

The colleges hire college-specific marketing firms to keep those applications coming. These firms loosely attempt to identify anyone resembling a potential student and then spams them. When I fill out the Common App to see how each year’s version works and I list a few schools, even though I don’t actually apply, they even spam me. I have had emails from a number of admissions officers who can’t wait to read my application.

Here’s is a typical case I’ve heard over the years. The student attends a summer camp at a highly ranked university thinking it might help their chances come admission time. The school knows the student is interested, without knowing much else about them, and a year later sends them email, regular mail, invitations to meet with an admissions officer who is visiting the area. The school may offer to waive the application fee. The problem is, the student is often not competitive to be actually admitted. By this I mean, no student from their high school has ever been admitted to this college with this student’s grades and test scores. The student and their family think the student is being “recruited”, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

This happens all the time.

First of all, except for a very few niche summer camps, attending a college summer enrichment camp, will not increase the chance of admission at that university. Summer enrichment camps are great for enriching. I often recommend camps to my students for the experience and because sometimes even an essay comes out of it. I’ve even seen students change their academic goals based on a summer enrichment camp. But they had to pursue them at a different school.

Secondly, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Colleges have ranges of accepted students, and those ranges are not going to significantly change for you.

I was a professional marketer. But I’ve never heard of a marketing campaign where you get people to want to buy your product and then you refuse to sell it to them. Maybe the admissions team should talk to somebody in their business school who can explain how important brand trust is, and how once you’ve lost it, it’s hard to get it back.