Tours: We've been on tours at a few schools so far and they share one thing in common...they don't mention academics. Campus traditions? Sure thing. Greek life? You betcha. Football? Natch. But time that you might, you know, go to classes and learn stuff? Hardly worth a moment, except for one guiding darling who told us all that "They make you take at least one math class here, and two sciences." My future engineer offspring was not very impressed by that. The overall messages seem to be a) we're a school with an identity and b) these will be some kind of personal discovery/formation/best years of your life.
Letters: Offspring recently took the PSAT and scored quite well (nerd parents, you know). He has been receiving missives from various fine institutions of higher learning seeking to interest him in the fine-ness. The thing that is so interesting is that every single letter is using the same tactic: We have a freebie to offer you (usually some kind of electronic pamphlet that offers college advice, sometimes a quiz that will tell you what to major in) and here is your super-special name and password, so just log in and give us some personal information (a parent's e-mail address) and we'll let you have it. We did a few, just to see what would happen, and they take to you a site, not in the university's domain, that has the information you requested and a micro web site of information about the school (again, non-academic stuff). A few have sent me an e-mail with a link to a helicopter parent oriented micro site including FAQ parents have and a list of parents of current students who will talk to parents of prospective students. Very strange, and kind of like they are all using the same marketing consultant, or all the admissions directors get ideas at the same conference session.
Fairs: We've also been to a college fair, about 100 schools there. This is a very odd kind of thing, because the people working at them seem to just want to hand you a brochure with campus visit dates and answer questions. Yet some of these were pretty small, not-well-known schools. I try to let Offspring handle these kinds of transactions himself because, you know, he's almost a grown-up and I'm not the one going to college, but you'd think people who do this for a living might be willing to help a kid out by having some kind of elevator speech or asking a question about what the kid is interested in and having some kind of thing to say about that. Anything besides "Here you go. Any questions?"
It made me wonder how my own school recruits students, which I don't really know besides the sometimes cringe-worthy tours.
Q: How do they do it at your school? What kind of message does it send?