For colleges: Tell students what you won’t be to them

With over 2,000 colleges in the country, it’s just as hard for a lot of them to stand out as it is for the students trying to get accepted.   So why do so many colleges still rattle off generalities like, “We have small classes—in fact, our student/faculty ratio is 11:1.”  That’s just like a student writing an essay about how being involved in student government taught her to work with people.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not going to make an applicant—or a college—stand out. 

If you work in admissions and want to get students’ attention at high schools during your travel season this fall, consider this—try telling students what you AREN’T.

What would happen if a college rep stood up in front of a group of students and said,

“We’re one of the largest schools in the country.  If you’re looking for a peaceful, slow-paced college, a place where you have dinner at your professors' homes on a regular basis and your academic advisor only works with 20 kids a year, we’re probably not for you.”

Or…

“We don’t have a football team.  We don’t have fraternities or sororities.  If you’re looking for what most people would call the classic college experience, you’re not going to find it here.” 

Yes, you’ll lose the future interest of some of the students in the room.  But those lost leads were never going to enroll anyway.  The kids most likely to apply, to eventually enroll, and to love being on campus will be drawn to you.

And aren’t those the students you want anyway?