Why do I get so much college mail?

Pieces of College Mail

You’re an upperclassman, you’ve taken a standardized test like the ACT or SAT once or twice and visited a college fair or two.

And then it happens.

COLLEGE MAIL OVERLOAD. 

But here’s the kicker: you’re getting mail and emails from schools you’ve never contacted, you’ve never spoken with and maybe…you’ve never…even…HEARD OF.

You may be thinking, “What is happening? Why are these colleges contacting me? How did they get my information? I didn’t ask for this!”

"What is going on? What are you doing?" says Dwight Schrute of The Office

Before you shoot off a frustrated email, we need to break the news to you. In all likelihood, you have allowed it to happen. And perhaps, without even realizing it.

There are two main ways students began to receive college mail:

  1. The most common way you receive communication from colleges is by filling out information, whether it’s by submitting an inquiry card at a college fair, attending a college visit at your high school, requesting more information on a website or putting a college on your shortlist on a website like Niche or Cappex. When you reach out to a college and provide your information, it makes you fair game. But, if you weren’t curious, you wouldn’t have shown up to the counselor visit, added them to your list or filled out that inquiry card, right? The schools are just simply doing their due diligence by providing you with information after you’ve shown interest.
  2. The second most common way you receive communication is by simply taking a standardized test. Yes, believe it or not, when you fill out all of that registration information to take the SAT or ACT, you are consenting, by clicking a box, to allow colleges to send you information for free. Many students miss it or just click the checkbox among the rest, but it’s there! And don’t worry, while they do share your contact information, they do not share your personal score.

    You may be thinking:
    "I have no memory of this whatsoever," says Lorelei Gilmore from Gilmore Girls

    But, here, for example, is the note as it reads from ACT:”The ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) is a service that allows you to learn about educational, scholarship, career, and financial aid opportunities from colleges, universities, financial aid and scholarship agencies, and other organizations that offer educational programs at no charge to you.”

So, you’ve won the college mail lottery and brochures, postcards, letters and envelopes are flooding in. You may think, “These college have clearly have selected me for a reason, right? Does sending me personal information actually mean they’re interested in me?”

"Oh, stop it" says Justin Timberlake.

Yes! In some respect, it means that something about you appeals to them as a college. College admissions offices purchase student information from test companies with specific data points in mind — it could be students who score in a specific range, live in specific region, or have a specific academic or major interest. Sending you college mail is just the first step! They want to learn more about you and ideally want to encourage you to take the next step, whether that’s attending a campus visit or applying for admission.

The question is: now that you have all of these brochures and emails —what do you do with them?

Mail rains down on Harry Potter.

Here’s our recommendation: Take at least 90 seconds with each piece of mail and 30 seconds with each email. As you read, ask yourself: What visuals do I see? What do I read that’s of interest to me? Does anything resonate with me or what I’m looking for in a college?

If something strikes your fancy, then dig in and file it away for future reference. If it doesn’t, then you can simply toss it out, opt out through your counselor or click unsubscribe if it’s an email. Just remember — you don’t want to accidentally overlook some really cool stuff because you only took a quick glance. You may realize there’s much more to a college than, say, an unusual name. 😉 Bat on Twitter

Here’s the great part about strategizing college mail: if you’re not interested, you’ve only lost a few seconds of your time, and if you are, then you be opened up to a new, best-fit college you may otherwise have not considered!

We consider that a win-win.