Do Colleges Want My Kid? Or Just Her Application?

I need to ask trees for forgiveness.  Over the last two years, uncountable numbers have been slain in the name of recruiting my child to college.  Ever since she took the PSAT as a sophomore, we’ve been receiving college brochure after college brochure, beautiful full color brochures on heavy paper promising the most transformative 4 years possible for my child.  Every day I separate the mail into piles—recycling, bills, college (sadly rarely personal anything these days)—and college mail far outweighs everything else.

Now my daughter has done pretty well in standardized testing, hence the interest that’s been pouring in through our mailbox.  But if I were to judge the school that’s most interested in her through communication volume, it’d be Columbia University.  Columbia has sent paper, lots of paper, but since our visit in April it also sends her an email every couple weeks and cc’s me.  And if I were a naïve senior receiving those emails, I would think “Columbia really wants me!”

True confession:  I have a soft spot for Columbia. I served as the InterVarsity staff worker there for 6 years and loved it—especially the students.  Columbia became the subject of my dissertation on interracial friendship.  I still own a Columbia sweatshirt.

C’mon Columbia!  You were rated #4 on the US News and World Report.  Last year you accepted 6.89% of your students from 33,351 applicants.  The top 25% of your students scored over a 780 in reading, and a 790 in math and writing.  Unless you prioritize children of your former chaplains, my daughter has about as much chance of getting in as she does flying to the moon.

So forgive me for feeling a bit cynical, and protecting her hopes despite all the emails you send her.  I know the lower your acceptance rate, the higher your rank on the US News and World Report.  It costs you nothing, not even the price of a stamp to send her an email every two weeks.  Applying would cost us $85 plus $11.25 to send her SAT scores.

But Columbia’s no different than other schools.  A couple weeks ago she showed me a 6 inch high stack of letters from schools offering to waive the application fee if she would just apply–promising she’d go into a merit scholarship pool.  They didn’t offer to pay the $11.25 for SAT scores, not to mention the time it would take to write the writing supplement.

As the early decision deadline looms, Columbia’s sent even more emails, obviously wanting her to apply ED.  She’s going to take an early decision shot at a reach school—not Columbia—but one that she has just as little a chance of getting into.  Meanwhile she needs to ready herself for round two–the applications that must be submitted between December 1-January 1, applications that must be written despite applying ED because there won’t be enough time to write them if she gets rejected.

It’s getting a little harried here with me checking in a little too often for her liking.  So I need to take a deep breath and relax.  Because I  trust that even if colleges just want her application to up their rankings, she’ll be a blessing wherever she goes and they’ll be lucky to have her.

So there Columbia.