College Myths: The Colleges I Get Mail From Are the Best Options for Me

  • Colleges send out lots and lots of bulk mail
  • Not all colleges can afford to mail every student
  • Most mailings are not very targeted

If you haven’t started to get piles of brochures from colleges yet–just wait. Most high school juniors and seniors receive more college mail than they know what to do with.

It’s easy to become convinced that particular schools are actively seeking you out when they send you mail. Or, that colleges that don’t send you mail aren’t interested in you, so you shouldn’t apply there. In reality, though, don’t read too much into the college mail you receive.

Colleges send out massive amounts of mail to students

A stack of University of Chicago college pamphlets.

Photo of college mail from Flickr.

Colleges purchase your contact information and test scores from the College Board and ACT when you take standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, ACT). Remember checking a box that said it’s okay for interested colleges to contact you? That’s likely how colleges are getting your information.

Most college mail is mass-posted. This just means that colleges send the mail to everyone whose information they purchase. Many colleges launch massive mailing campaigns, sending communications to millions of students, even though they only plan to enroll a few thousand.

Don’t take college mail as a sign that your perfect college has found you and is reaching out to you. At least not until you’ve had a chance to explore that college and see if it’s actually a good fit, or just a school that knows your name.

Not all colleges have the budget to send out massive mailing campaigns

Also, don’t be offended if your dream college isn’t sending you mail. Some colleges tend to send out more mail than others. Often times, it’s just a matter of economics. Small schools and many private colleges simply don’t have enough marketing money to spend showering millions of students in brochures and letters.

Use college mail as a way to learn more about what colleges see as special about themselves. If a college seems interesting to you based on this information, consider reaching out to them online or researching them a little more objectively.

But, also be mindful of colleges out there that haven’t contacted you. Your dream school may be out there, but their mailing campaign might not have included you.

Be proactive in your college search

The takeaway from all of this is that as a student, you should be proactive in finding your best college matches. While it would be nice if each student only received mail from the best colleges for them and their interests, this usually isn’t the case.

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