One of the benefits of planning college visits for our clients is that we get lots of emails from colleges. These emails range from simple confirmations of a student’s walking tour and information session to informative notes about each college. I’ve tweeted @CollegeVisitTip and written before about the importance of students checking their emails (and reading them) but I thought I might blog a bit about what students might glean from these emails that might help with the admissions process and their essays.

Colleges spend lots of time and lots of money to send emails, texts and snail mail to students. As with all promotional campaigns, much time is invested in the planning, creation and execution. And of course, there is an expected result too—convincing students to apply to their particular college. That said, these marketing pieces can also be a gold mine of information for students to use when applying.

 I was recently copied on an email that was addressed to a prospective student who is a client of ours. It is titled: What Penn Looks For. The email came from Eric J. Furda, Penn’s Dean of Admissions. I spent some time dissecting his email and suggest your teens do the same to emails, texts and other marketing materials that they may receive from the institutions they are interested in. You never know what they might learn that will help them with their application.

Dear Jane,

This fall, Penn’s campus is transformed as 2,523 new students move into their College Houses. Our vibrant community welcomes this spark—Penn is an extraordinary place to grow and be.  

As kind citizens, bold thinkers, and revolutionary contributors, Penn students bring more than academic achievement to our University. Each student adds their own vitality to our analytical seminars, spirited student groups, and lively city of Philadelphia. 

Uncover where your curiosity leads at Penn. If you discover a strong connection and believe Penn is the right fit for you, consider applying Early Decision. As you work on your application for either application cycle, keep these writing tips in mind.

Your future is bright. We look forward to getting to know you through your application.

Eric J. Furda, C’87
Dean of Admissions

Take Aways

The email header has a nice meme that I interpret as Penn seeking students who are willing to challenge themselves, the school and others. To shape, to inspire, to create and challenge speaks to individualism and breaking the status quo. And, that your education should be one of discovery, inspiration and should be self-driven. If those ideals speak to your teen then he or she should consider applying to Penn.

The body of the email provides additional information for you.  It speaks to transformation, vibrancy and spark all resulting from the new students on campus this fall 2018.

The second paragraph starts with “As kind citizens, bold thinkers and revolutionary contributors…” and goes on to speak about Penn students and how they bring more than academic achievement to the University.

He also provides you with a link to writing tips for your admission application. This may be valuable information regardless of whether or not your teen decides to apply to Penn!

I believe I know what a bold thinker and revolutionary contributor is but I’m not sure what a Dean Furda means when he uses the term kind citizen. So, perhaps this is an opening to contact the Dean. That would show curiosity, interest and maybe even boldness. Will it help your admissions application? Maybe, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. 

Not every email needs to be critiqued, and not every email, text or marketing piece gives hints of what a college admissions officer is looking for, but if you don’t read them you’ll never know.

Alan Caine

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