Enticing Application Emails from Colleges: So Tempting!

Three words: Proceed with Caution. Right about now, high school seniors from around the nation are finding in their mailboxes and inboxes invitations for “fast applications.” These are often referred to as Priority Apps, VIP Apps, or Fast Track apps. They sound pretty great and often promise your graduating senior incentives for applying early such as waived essay requirements, no fee applications and quick admission decisions.

Back to the “Three Words” – Proceed with Caution. And here’s why.6-professor-graphics-laptop

The motivation behind VIP applications

Why are schools making it easy for students to apply? It has a lot to do with boosting their college application numbers because they make it so easy for students to complete their application. Colleges will often buy hundreds of thousands of student’s names who have scored within a certain range on the SAT/ACT. Then, they send these students a customized (with student’s name) notice asking if they’d like more information. If the student replies yes, they end up getting a VIP application.

Beware: the college is probably not that into you

Just because a student receives one of these applications certainly doesn’t mean the school is interested in him or her.  In some cases, schools use these applications to increase their applications so they can reject more students.  Selectivity, after all, is something that US News’ college rankings care about.

A smart college that stopped using this approach and why—Ursinus College in Pennsylvania

An exception, Ursinus College, stopped using this fast app approach and returned to its pre-2005 way of attracting the best students—even though it had become a red-hot school with application responses soaring. The downside to their threefold growth in applications? Their “yield” number, the number of students who accepted the college’s offer and enrolled, plunged. You can read more about the Ursinus decision in this New York Times article, A College Opts Out of the Admissions Arms Race.

Bottom line?

Don’t apply to a school just because it appears to like you. Only apply for the right reasons. That way, you won’t get snookered by fast apps.

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