So, you took one little test on a Saturday morning or maybe a random Thursday at your high school and now, 3 months later, you might as well start your own recycling company due to the amount of mail you are getting in your mail box. And, you’re only a sophomore!
Here are a few tips to help manage the college marketing blitz that may only get worse before it gets better.
1. Discuss as a family who is responsible for weeding through the materials. Ideally, since students are the ones going to college – it should be them – but you also want to be realistic about addressing the ever increasing pile of stuff, you probably need to be honest and set expectations.
2. Decide if you will address the materials daily (it’s less intimidating that way) or weekly or however often works for you.
3. Limit your search. Set some boundaries so you know what mail materials you can recycle as soon as you get them.
Good limits to consider are:
- Location (especially, how far is too far?).
- Size (what’s too big, what’s too small?).
- Type of school (2 year/4 year/technical/online/etc/etc. I think this site does a pretty good job explaining some options http://www.gonorth.org/college/)
- Deal breakers – are there certain things you must have at a college such as a particular sport, or major, or religious interaction – if so, it’s best to establish that right from the beginning.
- One note of caution: I do not recommend ruling out a school due to cost. Colleges (especially private colleges) have significant funding available to help families with college costs. While I do recommend applying to a cost-safety school (one you know you can afford), it’s good to keep your options open until you know what the true cost to your family is going to be.
4. Make a home for your college stuff. I recommend 1 box and one set of folders. The box is for items you need to week through. Keep a folder for each school you’ve identified as a potential option and keep all that school’s materials in one place. Every couple of months, revisit the folders you’ve set up to see if there are any you are no longer seriously considering.
5. Very Important: THROW AWAY or RECYCLE all the colleges you aren’t interested in…if you don’t the college materials will begin to take over your home. You can always request info again (trust me – schools are HAPPY and even excited to be asked) but it is much less daunting if you prune your materials on a regular basis.
6. Get a family email address for the college search process. The recommendations above seem to apply to mail pieces, but I suggest having the same philosophy for emails. And, with all the email you will receive from colleges
– it’s better to have a separate account.
See #1 above and revisit it in regards to email – sometimes, it’s helpful to have a parent check this email address and help determine what might be worth checking out. The amount of email from colleges can be a bit overwhelming. Be sure to set filters and unsubscribe from mailing lists as soon as you know you aren’t interested in a school.
If you do set up this college search account YOU NEED TO CHECK IT! The schools you are interested in will send you important information only via email – especially as you get close to a decision deadline (May 1, typically).
Name your family email something you can use for subsequent students or purposes. For example rather than email@example.com, I’d recommend firstname.lastname@example.org
Try to keep in mind it’s easier to process materials in small doses rather than having a lot of materials or emails that have piled up of a couple of months. Also, if there are timely events or scholarship opportunities you may miss them if you don’t stay on top of the information you receive.
Overall, cut the clutter by getting rid of the materials (both print and electronic) from schools you aren’t interested in. Try to read through the materials from colleges you are interested in at least weekly.