A reporter from The GWU Hatchet, the student newspaper at George Washington University, quoted me in an article yesterday, in which I provided a bit of “color commentary” on the subject of admitted student events. Apparently, these events have become more elaborate at GWU this year, as the university aims to increase enrollment. Here’s a snippet that describes some of the tactics to appeal to the gastronomic tastes of 18 year-olds.
When newly admitted students walk onto campus this month, they will be greeted by cookies to eat with milk in wine glasses, brightly colored lanyards, buff-and-blue buttons and dessert tables filled with lemon squares, cake pops and lemonade.
The reporter mentioned that the dessert tables were a prominent feature, so in my interview, I sort of took the idea and ran with it. Here’s what I said:
Colleges across the country are becoming more competitive in their efforts to draw in students, said Mark Montgomery, a college application and admissions consultant.
“You bring the kids on campus and wine them and dine them and take them on a booze cruise,” he said. “Whatever it takes to make that school look more attractive than the others. Eighteen year olds can be bought. They’re unsophisticated consumers.”
Montgomery said a high yield rate can also boost a college’s overall ranking, a statistic universities use to help attract funding for research, new buildings or other large projects.
“Every single chocolate mousse is worth it. Every kid sitting at that dessert bar is the financial health of the university,” he said.
I stand behind everything I said. Except the booze cruise part. I was clearly exaggerating for effect. No campus administrator in his right mind would approve a booze cruise for incoming freshmen, no matter how the kids might appreciate the gesture. Can’t you just see the headlines? “George Washington University Offers Booze Cruise to Admitted Students.” Outrageous.
Okay, I’m playing around.
But seriously, these admitted student events are getting pretty fancy. And it’s because the colleges are engaged in real-world, dog-eat-dog competition for students. If one college offers lobster (I’ve already heard rumors to that effect on one campus), then expect others to follow suit. As I was quoted in the article, every kid noshing on canapés represents a small addition to the budgetary bottom line. Higher education is a serious business.
Oh, and if you really are looking for Booze Cruises on the Potomac River, there’s a link for that here.