(Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

November 2, 1998

--- OPINION ---

After awhile, it takes more than a glossy brochure to tantalize

The Tattoo

What do a paper pyramid, an empty video box, a
pen, and a whole lot of booklets have in common?

They are just a few of the prizes you can win on
"The Great College Search."

The game started for me just after I had taken
the PSATs, or practice SATs, for the second
time.  Colleges started sending me mail, and I
was overwhelmed by a deluge of letters
congratulating me, and books telling me that I
was perfect for the school in question.

This overload of attention impressed me.  I
started to think, wow, I must really be special
to these colleges.
That was when I realized that I was just one of
tens of thousands of students who was being
targeted by colleges. I really wasn't special,
just another name in a computer.

I decided on four colleges that I was especially
interested in, and then decided to have a little
fun with the rest.

No longer did I look at what majors a school
offered, but what bonuses the school was willing
to give.

For example, an Ivy League school didn't stand a
chance against Loyola Marymount, because Loyola
offered a really cool pen if you sent a reply
I wasn't interested in Embry Riddle, but the
"do-it-yourself" pyramid that they sent me was
one of the highlights of the college search.

You can imagine my surprise when I received a
video carton from Everett College, one that
contained no video.

Then were the much-less interesting viewbooks
that the colleges sent.

These were the schools' pathetic attempts to
convince you that they deserved your $100,000-
plus, and the next four years of your life.

Of course, these books were trying to convince
you that you can get the full idea of the school
from a book received through the mail.

One example of a school's statement would be
"Mr. ____, we understand that you are interested
in our school.

While other colleges may try to change your mind
with pretty pictures, we have sent along this
viewbook to help you make your own decision."

This is the point where I realized that there
was no way they could know if I was interested
in their college, and that the viewbook they
sent me was, hey, more "pretty pictures."

This is when I realized that it wasn't such a
great thing getting all of that college mail. 
After I had made my choices, the rest was just
an annoyance.

I had gone from the kid who would open
Publisher's Clearinghouse letters, just to say I
received mail, to not even caring what I got.