Here are a few tips for how to read, organize, and learn from the college mail you receive:
1. Create a filing system. Get a stack of manila envelopes from your local office supply store and write the name of each college you receive mail from at the top. Each time you get a piece of mail from that college stick it in the corresponding folder so you can easily reference it later. Don’t be too quick to throw away the mail from schools you aren’t sure about. Instead, take a separate box and put them in there as a “maybe” pile. You never know what may change in the next few months.
2. Most brochures these days are used as “teasers.” There is usually some action item they are “teasing” you to take -depending on the specific brochure. Usually, the college wants you to log on to their website, sign up for a visit, explore their programs, and ultimately fill out an application. If you are interested in taking the next step with a college either return the contact reply card they sent with the brochure or sign up online.
3. Look beyond the pretty pictures. It is easy to be taken with glossy images of professors deep in discussion as they walk amidst fall foliage or happy students playing frisbee on a neatly manicured quad. Take the time to actually read the quotes, information, and statistics and highlight items that resonate with you and the values you are seeking in a college.
4. Just because you do not get a lot of mail from a school does not mean that they aren’t interested in you. Sometimes it’s easy to be swayed into thinking that a school is “recruiting” you when they send you heaps of mail. However, keep in mind that many colleges today are trying to go green and cut back on the number of publications they create and some have had to cut their marketing budgets and are focusing their funds elsewhere.
5. Don’t forget that college brochures are just one piece of the college search. There are lots of other ways out there to learn about the school of your choice through websites, virtual tours, books, teachers, counselors and most important-a campus visit.