So, I get a lot of college mail.
Like, a LOT of college mail.
And it comes in envelopes.
A LOT of envelopes.
With such a preponderance of collegiate marketing, I decided to hold the First (and Last, since I’m a senior this year) Annual Reynolds Review of College Mail (Uncensored Snarkiness Edition).
I took the PSAT. And you know that little bubble where they ask you if you want to participate in the “Student Search Service?” Yeah? Well, I filled that out. And then every time I got college mail after that, I put it in a box. Finally, on October the Fourteenth, Anno Domini Two-Thousand and Fourteen, when I felt like it, I poured said box onto my bed and sorted out the envelopes from the flyers from the letters. The award categories were determined by the most cynical thought that came to my mind while performing said “sorting.”
And the winners are…
“Most Likely To Deforest a Small Latin-American Country”
Winner: UChicago. In addition to sending me two viewbooks and myriad little postcards displaying their obvious affection for my intellect, the University of Chicago also managed to send me a 4 foot by 3 foot poster of Chicago.
The “Useless Postal Billboard” Award
Winners: all of the following colleges who sent me full size envelopes inviting me to apply—online.
Yep. Absolutely no paper applications included whatsoever. Merely oversized envelopes with two sheets of paper inside telling me to go apply on the internet. (+500 GreenPoints)
Most enigmatic was the mailing from the Colorado School of Mines, a school I just found was not made up and not only attended by dwarves.
Runner up for the UPB Award: University of Minnesota, which somehow was able to fit the following poster in the mail:
Seriously, I don’t even know how it got to me. It’s way bigger than the size of my mailbox. I’m guessing they either employ wizards or bribe the postal carriers.
Winners: all of the Ivy League universities that sent me mail.
I got mail from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, UPenn, and Columbia. (And I got viewbooks from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, so I’m basically as good as accepted.) The only college that didn’t send me mail is Dartmouth. Well, same to you, Dartmouth. And I will not perform surgery on your oral lacerations once I become a doctor after earning my medical degree at Harvard, Yale, and/or Princeton.
***UPDATE*** I received a letter from Dartmouth inviting me to apply! One catch: the deadline had passed. Oh, and the letter was postmarked in November and I received it in January. Thanks.
“Most Incomprehensible Page Layout” Award
Winner: Soka University, which sent a viewbook containing the following beauty:
Yes. That is two completely different paragraphs, interspersed— line by line—between each other. In all caps. However, if you read it straight through, it’s great practice for acting schizophrenic.
“Most Flattering College Mailing” Award
Winner: University of New Mexico, which decided to send me my diploma early.
…with my last name spelled horribly wrong. I am thinking of framing it.
(To be fair, this was technically my fault. Did I forget to mention that when I took the PSAT, I accidentally put a “Q” in my last name rather than an “O?” Yeah, well, they’re only one letter apart, and they were both capitalized and the bubbles looked really similar, OK? It’s still funny, though.)
“Viewbook Title That Made Me Giggle the Most” Award
Winner: “Limitless Swarthmore,” by Swarthmore College. It was a very swarthy book. Yes, very swarthy; though less swarthy than I expected from an institution which promises to swarth more than the average college swarths.
“Surprisingly Concise and Efficient” Award
Winner: UPenn. They only sent me one mailing (that I saved, at least), and it had all of their important information packed into the letter and on the envelope itself.
I don’t actually have much snarkiness here. I just really appreciated that this college didn’t send me copious correspondance.
The “Giving-Me-Every-Single-Brochure-They-Had-In-Their-Admissions-Office” Award
Winner: Williams College.
They sent me five brochures and a letter in a paper folder. It reminded me of what the developer gave us when my parents bought our house, except with fewer forms claiming freedom from liability when the various structural flaws take effect. Hopefully Williams College doesn’t also go bankrupt within six years.
The “I Might Actually Use This” Award
Winner: Reed College. They sent me a periodic table for no apparent reason.
And it’s actually a good-quality periodic table, too. I mean, look at all the significant figures in the atomic weight of Fluorine!
TEN? TEN??? The table in my school’s chemistry lab doesn’t even have that many! (OK, chemistry nerd rant over. But it’s three-hole-punched for putting in my notebook.)
The “Most Blatant Lie on a Front Page” Award
Winner: Carleton College.
It says, “This Is Carleton” in big letters, but right below it in the fine print, it gives the man’s name as Ben. Wow, at least try to make your deceptions believable, Carleton College.*
The Final Verdict
Once it was all done, I was left with two things. A thirteen-pound box of brochures:
And a ream of new scratch paper for my scratch paper drawer (courtesy of hundreds of colleges):
My main point in all of this: college marketing is wasting a crapload of paper, especially since much of it can be (and is) done online. Send me a viewbook, maybe—if I request it. But otherwise, just email me. I’ll find out about your college soon enough.
*Please understand that this whole thing was completely sarcastic. Uncensored Snarkiness, remember? That also goes for all of the other colleges that I “insult.” (And if you are an admissions officer from one of those colleges, Hello! I would actually be honored to attend your institution! And please don’t incinerate my application!)