College Catalogues as an Art Form

The entries range from flowery prose:

"Founded in 1915, Webster offers you a real-world approach to learning that springs from a rich tradition of academic excellence."

To the downright scary:

"Home to the only nuclear reactor in the U.S. that is staffed by undergraduates."

If you're the parent of a college bound high school student, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The mind-numbing blizzard of material from colleges and universities meant to entice your young student into think about attending their particular institution of higher learning.

Daughter #1 works hard and is pretty smart, so the material we receive is from different schools than some, but the messages are almost identical. Here's a sampling:

"The University of Alabama has been committed to excellence in teaching, research and service since 1831." Geez, I hope so. I'd hate to think they were committed to mediocre teaching, research and service.

"This letter is designed to make sure that Mudd doesn't slip through the cracks, (it oozes, get it?)." I swear this is from an actual letter from Harvey Mudd College, in, you guessed it, California.

Some schools try to butter you up: "I've learned through the College Board's Student Search Service that you're likely to be a strong candidate at some of the nation's finest colleges and universities."

While others just cut to the chase: "...based upon reported high school performance and achievement on standardized tests, (she) qualifies for a scholarship of at least $9,500..." The bold print is as it appeared in the letter.

We've decided that there is a group of college age models who tour the country and pose for the shots in the schools' brochures. They all look alike, they're all happy and it's always sunny and warm. I wonder how much it pays...I could pass as a scholarly professor of something don't you think?

The colleges also must be on the same mailing schedule. We don't receive any brochures for a couple of weeks, then wham! the mail box is full for two or three days in a row.

Parents, you know what I'm talking about! This is exactly what happens in every household of every high school junior and senior in the country. That's why I thought you'd enjoy a little humor before you attack the next batch of brochures.

By the way, the school with their own nuclear reactor is Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where the brochure affectionately refers to students as "Reedies".

I'm not saying it's a factor, but we've suddenly lost interest in looking at any schools west of the Mississippi River.