One of the things that attracted me to Trinity University while I was going through the college applications process was getting personal letters from the chairs of the math and music departments telling me about their programs. Now that I see what colleges are doing these days, it all seems kind of quaint.
Forget course catalogs and colorful pamphlets. Think sex, skiing and rock 'n' roll.
When it comes to recruiting students for college, admissions officials are turning to increasingly outlandish stunts to get the attention of high schoolers. Colleges and universities are using birthday cards, ski weekends and even reality TV shows to get an edge.
Personal contact with students is in. Indiscriminate mass mailings are out.
"Everybody's trying to do something that isn't the mundane," said Dan Kunzman, vice president of admissions at Doane College in Crete in southeast Nebraska.
But not all of the gimmicks are received with open arms.
After the University of Nebraska-Lincoln agreed to let Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee film his reality show, Tommy Lee Goes to College, on campus, some faculty members protested. Local domestic violence and family groups also expressed concern that having the rock star representing the university may not be the best image to project. Lee spent about four months in jail after pleading no contest to kicking his then-wife, Pamela Anderson, in February 1998.
The show is tentatively scheduled to air this summer.
At Doane College, school officials apologized after receiving complaints about recruiting postcards sent to 13,500 prospective students that showed a male student surrounded by women, encouraging students to "play the field."
Meanwhile, Saint Vincent College, in Latrobe, Pa., is planning a ski trip for potential students. Between snowboarding and skiing, students will be given information about financial aid, academic programs and life at the college.