Colleges have evolved through the decades to adapt to new social circumstances. The first profound changes occurred when marginalized groups, especially Black students, gained access to higher-level education with the help of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Digital college applications did not start until the early 2000s, but now, every step of the process has to be online. Although convenient to the students, these adaptations are encouraged by the institution’s financial goals. All of this is at the expense of ridiculing society’s progress and philosophies.
One such advancement is colleges’ enrollment management. Colleges have made significant investments in departments within their organization to find new and multiple ways to advertise themselves and encourage applications. At first, this might seem like a fair game: they encourage students to apply to give them a spot, an opportunity. However, given that the increment in applications is not parallel to the increment of places an undergraduate class offers, enrollment management results in a decrease in the college’s acceptance rate. This marketing strategy benefits the college by giving it a prestigious and elitist reputation while igniting a cycle of application increment and mass rejection.
If the attention grabbers of enrollment management strategies were solely academically based, two things would be different: colleges would attract students that fit their standards, and therefore, their applications would not have increased dramatically. Regardless, colleges have mastered the art of emotional propaganda.
“Your preferred name and pronouns”: the subject of the email Seattle University sent to millions of students. At first sight, there’s nothing wrong with it; on the contrary, sexuality should be considered and respected by the college of your choice. It’s the misuse, or financial use, of serious, social topics to turn them into a recruitment strategy.
Are we willing to oversee the intentions and focus on the results?
“Although I would consider the social aspect and diversity of a college when making a decision,” explained senior Angelina Escobedo. “… If presented with two different colleges, one with stronger academics but less acceptance, and one with stronger diversity and weaker academics, I would rather just focus on the educational aspect.”
“When applying to colleges, I’m not worrying about the current social construct,” said senior Abraham A. Nuñez. “But rather, the education.”
“I’d rather focus on how cheap, or not, my college experience might be,” said senior Garret Hacker, who’s planning on attending SACC and then transferring to UTSA.
Even though marketing strategies are an undeniable part of the college process, should students learn to emphasize a higher-level institution’s “major” components: academics and financial need?
Should academics and financial needs be our priority? What does that say about our educational system?
“When students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom, it can increase their educational success and motivational outcomes in multiple ways, and teachers can help create this feeling of belonging by building connections between classroom and community,” according to DeLeon Gray, Ph.D. from North Carolina University.
In a perfect world, students would focus on mental health and feeling accepted instead of enduring poor college experiences solely because it’s all they can afford or because the school is “ranked higher.” But, in reality, we need to make smarter and more informed decisions, and part of that is to take colleges for what they really are: successful businesses.