Our second semester is underway. We started back on Tuesday with a slight hiccup in which our professor did not come to class…details. It seems as if this semester may be a little more manageable than the last, but that could also just be wishful thinking on my part. Moving on…
In my global advertising class on Friday we discussed the branding and promotion of schools. Some classmates were of the opinion that advertising a university should be unnecessary if the institution has the correct reputation. I disagree. And of course I will tell you why (please keep in mind that the following is based upon no research whatsoever).
I visited Elon because of the perfectly branded and produced collateral they sent me. Well that and the fact that it was en route to Wake Forest and Furman, two schools I was already visiting. But again, details.
And then I applied.
And then I gave them well over $100,000 over the following four years of my attendance.
Before that I had never heard of Elon, I didn’t know about their incredible study abroad program, the Communications Fellows, the fact that it was the perfect distance from home, and had just the environment I was looking for. Until they sucked me in with that lovely, shiny brochure printed on an extremely heavy card-stock. Well done, you.
This in-class conversation got me to thinking about how a school ensures that its branded differentiators attract the type of student they are seeking. And what that school does when it finds its applicant pool lacking. The answer: re-brand. Case in point: Elon’s mascot was the Fighting Christian. After a year or so of focus groups and surveys we became the Phoenix. A mascot which I believe William and Mary just borrowed. We are nothing if not trendsetters.
But this is all tangential to my semi-self serving point. If for no other reason, schools need to advertise and promote themselves because students are traveling across states, nations and oceans to attend school. It is no longer uncommon to go to an out of state school. For students for whom it is an economical possibility, colleges are picked for their programs and individual campus personalities above location. This increase in distance makes it possible for admissions offices nationwide to set their sites on students in areas that historically stayed closer to home. Therefore, many students may not have heard of some of the great schools that are out there. But my question is, has this opportunity made us geographically ADD as generation and socioeconomic class?
By the time I was finished at Norfolk Academy I was ready to leave. In a seriously deep and meaningful way. So I chose a school with minimal connections to my 1-12. Because I could - an increase in mobility allowed my peers and I to do so. Once I had been there for two years I had the same feeling. And I studied abroad twice in 2006.
By the time of my graduation in 2008 I knew I couldn’t contentedly stay put in the South. I moved to Boston.
As I near the end of my year at Emerson and think towards my next big move I find myself wanting to go somewhere new and asking myself why I seem to have a two year limit on contentedness. I love Boston, I am happy here. People I love are in Virginia, I would be happy there. But I want somewhere new. What I need is for a shiny, lovely brochure made of high quality card-stock to show up at my door and convince me to move to a city I know very little about where I will be blissfully happy.
For two years.