“Would you miss us if we went away?”
– Actual subject line of a college email I received
I know it’s usual for many bloggers to go a week without posting, but that’s never happened with me before, so I apologize. I was on a class trip to Boston, which I was going to blog about, but I decided too much incredible stuff happened for me to post it all. So I’m just going to keep it to myself. Sorry!
But, on day three of said Boston trip, my senior friends got quite a few emails and letters from colleges hearing about admissions statuses. Then we all started talking about how annoying college emails are, and what kind of crazy spam they send.
I once received a full book and DVD from a college I’d never even heard of. Several times, I’ve gotten promotion packets thicker than my college acceptance packets. But one thing that adheres to a fixed trend is the desperate nature of spam. So, I decided to break down college emails into their stages of decline.
Stage One: The Initial Contact
This one is like meeting a new kid on the first day of school: they say hi to you, and you give a casual wave back, unsure if they’re cool or not but willing to give them a chance. Colleges send this in the form of something simple.
Example: “Hey [name], how are you today?” (Yes, most of the emails actually start with that). “I noticed you [insert details that could apply to any human being with a brain and heartbeat]. Because of this, we think you might be interested in our university. Come check us out! And visit our website for more info! The application deadline is just two months away, and we’d hate for you to miss it.”
Analysis: Nothing wrong with this, but I think it should stop here. You’ve gotten my attention, and if I like your college, I’ll look into it. Thank you for your time.
Stage Two: The Follow-up Contact
Now the new kid is trying to show you all his cool stuff. I’m sure your stuff is very cool, but let’s get to know each other a little better first, okay?
Example: “By the way, I noticed you didn’t respond to my last email. That’s totally okay! But in case you didn’t get it, [regurgitated form of last email]. Also, you might be interested in this totally objective book that in no way pushes you towards our university, 71 Reasons Why You Can Succeed Anywhere! Subtext: As long as it’s here.”
Analysis: Alright, you’ve made your point. Leave me in peace.
Stage Three: Is This the Right Email Address?
“Dear [name]. We’ve really missed you! It’s been forty eight hours since we first emailed you, and we have yet to hear back! The application deadline is one month and twenty-eight days away, and the last thing on Earth we want is for you to miss it. Because there’s a VERY good chance you would get in here, cough cough. Please please please just let us know if this isn’t the right email address so we know to forward our redundant junk to a different place if necessary. Because we’ll do it! We’ll do anything at all you need to consider our university. But we really just want to make sure we’re reaching you right now, and we’re starting to get scared, and lonely, so please please reply? Thanks. Oh and, you also might enjoy this other book we picked out for you, 105 Steps to Going to the Best University in the World. Totally objective, of course. Hope to hear from you soon!”
Analysis: Okay, I’m done here, it was good to meet you, have a prosperous life!
Stage Four: Come On, Fill Out the App. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It.
“Okay, [name], you’re playing hard to get. You sly dog! But it’s all good. We’re not trying to pressure or influence you in any way, since applying somewhere is something that’s completely your decision, but you’ll notice we attached our 16 MB application to this email. Plus, if you apply now, we’ll waive the application fee, the essay requirement, and the need to see any transcripts! In fact, just attach a list of any crimes you’ve been convicted of, and we should be all good. But you have to hurry! The application deadline is only one month away, and we don’t want you to feel stressed or pressured. Because there’s a really good chance you’ll get in here. Hope to hear from you soon!”
Analysis: Back off, stranger, I have mace.
Stage Five: Seriously, Fill It Out
“Okay, okay, we understand! Filling out applications is a lot of work! But the deadline is almost here, and it would be a moral abomination if you missed it because you didn’t receive our initial one hundred and three thousand emails. Tell you what: you don’t need to fill out the application any more. Or write the essay, or pay anything, or send anything! Look down there, we’ve sent a link to a secret section of our website. Just click that link, type in your birthday and gender, and that’s it! You’ve applied! Dear Lord please just do this, we’ll owe you big time. We’re getting nervous. Hope to hear from you soon!”
Analysis: I don’t really have a comment on this one, other than to let everyone know that some colleges really have emailed me saying just to fill out my gender and birthday, and that would be my entire application.
Stage Six: PLEASE
“LITERALLY CLICK THIS BUTTON AND YOU’LL BE ACCEPTED TO OUR UNIVERSITY AND WE’LL PAY FOR YOU TO GO HERE. THE APPLICATION DEADLINE WAS YESTERDAY BUT WE’VE PUSHED IT TO WHENEVER YOU FEEL LIKE IT. HECK, JUST SHOW UP ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL AND WE’LL ENROLL YOU. PLEASE JUST GO HERE AND WE PROMISE TO NEVER EVER EMAIL YOU AGAIN AND OH GOD PLEASE SOMEBODY LOVE ME.”
Analysis: Okay, I’ve never gotten an email like this word for word, but some of them these days are pretty darn close.
Stage Seven: The Final Contact
“Congratulations! Now that you’ve opened this email, you’re officially enrolled in (and legally bound to attend) our college! We hope you’ve found this process relatively painless, and we look forward to seeing you this fall!
P.S. The initial enrollment fee is $350, non-refundable, cash-only, due immediately. Thank you for choosing our university!”
Analysis: Okay, it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting.
Also! I finally gained enough self-confidence to turn on comments for my posts. So please, everyone comment!