Everyday, 10 or so emails from colleges flood my inbox, some from well-known colleges, others from schools I learned about from said emails. The neat-freak part of myself itches to delete all these emails and clean out my otherwise organized inbox, but I somehow felt like saving these emails would prove worthwhile in the long run. This daily dilemma prompted me to research more about the topic and get to the bottom of this debate.
In the early 1970s, College Board and universities came together to target their primary audience: U.S. teenagers. College Board, who runs standardized testing throughout the country, sends colleges information students provided when filling out their testing forms. Today, when filling out the forms, students have the option to allow colleges to send them information.
A simple “equation” plays a major role in determining who colleges want to send emails to. More marketing means more applications, which leads to a decreased acceptance rate, thus improving “selectivity” rankings. Additionally, colleges looking for more diversity among their student body can look to College Board test forms, where students include information such as race.
While some may feel a bit flattered to have received an email from a college or two, the unfortunate truth is that colleges send out blast emails on a list with possibly many thousands of students on it. Because colleges target a certain demographic, the selection process varies. Emails aren’t indicative of a college’s interest in a certain individual, but rather his or her statistics. This results in colleges sending a seemingly endless stream of emails to students.
According to college counselor Mr. Erik McLeod, the best remedy to this concern is actually a simple one. “I believe that the best way to tackle this problem is to first create an email folder just for college emails,” Mr. McLeod said. “Each day, you can dump them into the folder just to get them out of your inbox.”
Taking this advice, I saw an immediate improvement in my mailbox (my neat-freak self instantly felt relieved to see the 500 emails in my inbox dwindle to 50). However, now that I had 450 emails in my folder, the next step including sorting out junk emails from ones with a bit of interesting information.
“I would go through the new folder, say on a Sunday, and at least open each email for a quick review. If the email is from a college whose name you recognize, or if it’s a college you know you are already interested in, spend some time reading it,” Mr. McLeod said. “For colleges you’ve never heard of, open and review them; you can keep an ongoing list of these and then self schedule a meeting with your college advisor to review them. Once emails are read, you can then safely trash them.”
Often times, colleges will send out emails with similar content. “It is not necessary to open and read these duplicate emails, as your life would then be completely taken over by college emails,” Mr. McLeod said.
Mr. McLeod also noted that the emails colleges send out may include information other than that pertaining to admissions. “Colleges will not send out junk mail, but sometimes scholarship organizations or summer programs will send out what I call ‘scam mail,’ like programs that will charge students money but that are essentially worthless,” Mr. McLeod said. “If you are ever unsure if an email is a scam, contact your college advisor.”
Another question regarding college emails arises in the case of demonstrated interest. Some colleges, such as Boston University, take into consideration the effort students put into connecting with the school before applying.
“Some colleges track who opens their emails, and if you apply to those colleges, they will take your email interest into account,” Mr. McLeod said.
Overall, while colleges may flood students’ inboxes with seemingly pointless emails, students should spend the small amount of time it takes to go over them. As Mr. McLeod said, if a student ever has a question regarding of the hundreds of college emails they may receive, they can always contact their college counselor for more guidance and reassurance.