college mail

“Congratulations! You’ve been chosen out of a select group of students to apply to XYZ College using our Shining Stars Application!”

One of my students received an email with a message similar to this from a school he hadn’t heard of before. He was excited that the admission office was interested in him, but he wondered how they knew who he was. He hadn’t visited the school or even looked at their website.

If you’re like most students, you’ve been receiving tons of publications and emails from colleges across the country. In some cases, these mailings are coming from schools that you’ve selected. Maybe you visited the campus or filled out an inquiry form at a college fair or signed up online for the mailing list. But some of these mailings are likely coming from schools that you hadn’t considered before.  So how did they find out about you?

Remember back when you took the PSAT or PLAN? Before you actually took the test, you answered a few questions about yourself, including your high school information, ethnicity, parental information and intended major. In an effort to increase applications from students who might be good candidates for their institution based on future testing and/or interests, many colleges purchase the name and contact information of students who meet certain criteria. For example, “women from Kentucky who want to study Biology with a PSAT score within the range of 175-210” or men from the Southwest with an interest in Business and a PSAT Math score of 60 or higher.” Once schools receive your information, they begin marketing to you via mail and email.

Does this mean you are guaranteed admission? Not exactly. Remember that colleges are solely basing these initial mailings on your PSAT scores and interests. They haven’t read your actual application, reviewed your transcript, seen your SAT or ACT scores or studied your essay.

That said, you still should be excited that these schools have reached out to you. Take them up on their offer, do some research, attend an open house, or at the very least explore their website. They’re interested in you. Doesn’t that make you feel good?



Written by Kimberly Asselta
Kimberly Asselta is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Kimberly was a senior admissions officer at Babson College and College of the Holy Cross. Visit our website to learn more about Kimberly Asselta.