Recently my life has consisted of studying for and taking the ACT and SAT, looking at colleges and even making sure I have all of my high school requirements filled as a junior. After signing up for my first real ACT, my life took a bit of a turn. Within two days I was receiving letters and emails from colleges like they were coming out of a faucet. I am haunted by schools asking me to sign up for their online quiz to see how I would be for their school and passive aggressive letters saying "your response is requested" as the subject. Unfortunately, I didn't untick some box that said, "Allow colleges to email me and send me mail about offers," hence the endless "attention" I am receiving. My real issue isn't actually all of the mail and emails; it's the shallowness of it all.
Each of these letters and emails all say something along the same line, and that's the most disturbing detail. I don't feel special when I get a letter or email from a college; it feels a bit like they are trying to rope me in. They don't know my grades, extracurricular activities, clubs or running times, yet every email says something similar to "Murray, you have really impressed us and we invite you to a (insert random offer)" After talking to many of my class mates and reading online, I came to a sobering conclusion: The goal of these letters are to make me feel like I am capable of getting in with zero effort and that I am the most special student they've seen.
Am I special? Of course! I am an individual who enjoys what I do and always gives 100%. Can I get into every single one of these schools by just being me? Of course not, effort and care needs to be evident to a school if I want to get in. So then why are is a shocking number of colleges sending me all of these emails and letters that are clearly sent to every person because it's just vague enough for an algorithm to enter a name on a block of text to make it "personal?" The end-goal is to get more people to apply.
To attract more students of a high caliber, schools want to look selective. Having a low admission rate or percentage makes the college look more prestigious. Realistically, they aren't accepting smaller and smaller amounts of students. The slight of hand that most schools are pulling now is to accept the same amount of students, but get more people to apply. This causes the acceptance rate to drop while not accepting any more or less students than the previous year.
I don't think schools are evil because of this, but they definitely do lose a bit of respect in my eyes. While colleges are institutions that require an extremely competitive attitude to stay on top and not get beat by a rival, the focus is on the education of the student attending the school. Trying to get "better" students to apply by making more people think they can get in only to reject them goes against the idea of the student being the focus. While there are plenty of other issues with the mail system such as the huge waste of paper it is, that is an issue I won't touch upon now. While the whole charade is a little annoying, it could be considered at the quintessential hallmark of being waist-deep in the college process, which can be a nice thought, if you squint.