What do a paper pyramid, an empty video box, a pen, and a whole lot of booklets have in common?
They are just a few of the prizes you can win on “The Great College Search.”
The game started for me just after I had taken the PSATs, or practice SATs, for the second time. Colleges started sending me mail, and I was overwhelmed by a deluge of letters congratulating me, and books telling me that I was perfect for the school in question.
This overload of attention impressed me. I started to think, wow, I must really be special to these colleges.
That was when I realized that I was just one of tens of thousands of students who was being targeted by colleges. I really wasn’t special, just another name in a computer.
I decided on four colleges that I was especially interested in, and then decided to have a little fun with the rest.
No longer did I look at what majors a school offered, but what bonuses the school was willing to give.
For example, an Ivy League school didn’t stand a chance against Loyola Marymount, because Loyola offered a really cool pen if you sent a reply card.
I wasn’t interested in Embry Riddle, but the “do-it-yourself” pyramid that they sent me was one of the highlights of the college search.
You can imagine my surprise when I received a video carton from Everett College, one that contained no video.
Then were the much-less interesting viewbooks that the colleges sent.
These were the schools’ pathetic attempts to convince you that they deserved your $100,000-plus, and the next four years of your life.
Of course, these books were trying to convince you that you can get the full idea of the school from a book received through the mail.
One example of a school’s statement would be “Mr. ____, we understand that you are interested in our school.
While other colleges may try to change your mind with pretty pictures, we have sent along this viewbook to help you make your own decision.”
This is the point where I realized that there was no way they could know if I was interested in their college, and that the viewbook they sent me was, hey, more “pretty pictures.”
This is when I realized that it wasn’t such a great thing getting all of that college mail. After I had made my choices, the rest was just an annoyance.
I had gone from the kid who would open Publisher’s Clearinghouse letters, just to say I received mail, to not even caring what I got.
Collin Seguin is a Reporter from Connecticut for Youth Journalism International.