The College Hunt

For those not in the know, Patrick is (theoretically) graduating from high school in June. Because of this expectation, he took the ACT test and has been receiving e-mails from schools trying to encourage him to apply to them.

It’s interesting how far this process has come in 25 years.

I remember literally having a box to hold the mail that came day after day from colleges that I’d either expressed an interest in or even had never talked to. They had all gotten my information from the SAT test and were bombing me with brochures, post cards, letters, and the like, begging me to apply.

These days, Patrick gets a few post cards each week, but I get a ton of e-mails for him (because I stupidly signed him up for the ACT under my e-mail address).

I forward on the ones he’s been interested in, and delete those that he isn’t interested in.

But from there, things are still different. I’d get packets from some schools that I really expressed interest in. The packets had brochures, course catalogs, letters from faculty, staff and alumni, application forms, and financial aid and tuition information. Now, the link to apply is in the e-mail, usually along with an offer to waive the application fee, and a link to find out more about the school on some slick-looking promotional website that doesn’t actually look much like the regular website for the school.

This whole thing has brought back a lot of memories. I was sold on Grinnell College in Iowa, which, the glossy brochures pointed out multiple times, had the “comfiest library in the country,” as named by Rolling Stone magazine. We even went on a tour, during which I did indeed sit in a study cube in that library. I learned that it was legit to be late to classes twice a day when the trains passed through campus. I got my first glimpse of campus life, and fell in love with the college, and applied. Only to be turned down…

Who knows how the admissions process works now. Patrick admittedly is not a star pupil, and didn’t do as well as he’d hoped on his ACT test, but these colleges keep saying in their e-mails how much they think he’d be a great fit for their school. While I know that they don’t do it that way, I kind of wish they’d have an instant approval process–like getting a credit card or something else online, where the decision is automated and immediate. He could go in, put in his information, click the button, and in 30 seconds, get an acceptance or rejection.

Of course, that’s too easy. And he still isn’t sure of what he wants to do. So it’s probably better to just e-mail in the application or use the online form.

See you tomorrow.