Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Listen up, college recruiters: Here’s how you’ll impress the mother of a college-bound teen February 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:56 AM

Some of the letters college recruiters have sent to my 16-year-old son.

LAST WEEK THE LETTERS begin arriving. Not just one or two, but as many as eight a day. Initially, we laugh, say this is crazy, even insane, and toss the literature into the recycling bin. But, by the third day, I am curious.

How many letters will accumulate in, say, a week?

A lot.

The stash of letters from colleges and universities now addressed to my sophomore son totals 26, excluding the dozen or so that we trashed.

New York University, Cornell College, Hamline University, DePauw University, the University of Minnesota and of Miami, even Duke and Drake, are apparently anxious to welcome my son.

(He has yet to receive letters from Gustavus Adolphus, St. Olaf and Carleton, all prestigious institutions of higher learning in our backyard. )

I expect by now the mail carrier is cursing my sophomore and wishing he would graduate in 2010 instead of two years from now.

What exactly, you’re likely wondering, set off this deluge of academic mailings? The answer: the ACT practice test and the quick check of a box by my test-taking son.

I’ll try not to sound boastful, but this boy of mine is smart, really, really smart. Suffice to say that based on his preliminary ACT test results, he falls into the rank of those students admitted to “highly selective” colleges and universities.

So, I am curious what he thinks of all that correspondence, of the letters that proclaim:

  • “We’re interested in you!”
  • “I think you’d be a great fit…”
  • “You’ll be prepared for life after college.”
  • “Your ACT PLAN results show you have the ability to be successful in the …selective academic environment.”
  • “…we make…affordable through need-based financial aid.”

Here’s what he tells me impresses him about a college or university mailing: “If they change the letter format and it’s (the envelope) easy to open.” He’s half-serious.

He selects the visually and graphically-appealing colorful tri-fold mailing from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, as his favorite. Did I tell you my son is into computers and Web page design? His choice comes as no surprise.  Knox boldly shouts: “Make a Difference. Make a Statement.”

Then he adds, “If one of them sent a free letter opener, I would be very impressed.”

He also seems impressed by this statement in a letter from Pennsylvania’s Lafayette College:  “As a Marquis Scholar, you will receive $80,000 in merit awards over four years of study.” It’s clearly no accident the college has bold-faced those words.

He likes, too, the offer of a free t-shirt if he shows interest in the College of Saint Benedict or Saint John’s University.

But it will take more than a free letter opener, t-shirt or promise to impress me, the mom. I’ll need a full-ride college scholarship for my boy. Yeah, that ought to do it.

Show me the money!

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


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