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Scratch, sniff, and apply! What will they think of next?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone Posts: 2,476CC Admissions Expert Senior Member
edited March 2013 in College Search & Selection
The nose knows. Or so officials at Georgia's Agnes Scott College are hoping. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The women’s college, in Decatur, Ga., will soon mail a booklet containing scented pages to its 800 accepted applicants. The smell of pine accompanies a photograph of campus trees. A few pages later, an aerial shot of the Quad comes with a whiff of freshly mowed grass. The idea is to convey the experience of strolling through the campus, especially to students who have yet to visit.

See To Entice Students, a College Goes for the Nose - Head Count - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The article also notes that accepted applicants at Agnes Scott will receive a pair of purple cotton gloves designed to protect their hands when ringing the bell in the bell tower--a tradition for Agnes Scott seniors who receive a job offer or an acceptance to grad school.

Question for parents and students:

(Those of you who are currently in the build-an-addition-on-the-house-to-accomodate-the-college-propaganda phase or who are receiving admission verdicts with accompanying enticements):

Do gimmicky publications and/or post-acceptance freebies ...

a) increase your interest in a college (i.e., "They're creative and caring")?
b) decrease interest ("Gimme a break ... spend your time & effort keeping costs down.")?
c) make no impact ("Whatever. We have other fish to fry.")?
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on
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Replies to: Scratch, sniff, and apply! What will they think of next?

  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Posts: 106,156Founder Senior Member
    Actually, a good portion of the effect will be unconscious. Adding the scent will make the brochure and college more memorable, though I wouldn't count on a huge lift in apps from that.

    Better "freshly mowed grass" than "stadium locker room at half-time" I suppose. Or "frying fish," to continue your sensory metaphor. :)
  • CTTCCTTC Posts: 1,252Registered User Senior Member
    Haha....now what would Reed College's scratch n' sniff scent be?
  • ahermittahermitt Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    Too bad my daughter already declined. I loved to see (or smell) that brochure in person!
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone Posts: 2,476CC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    Better "freshly mowed grass" than "stadium locker room at half-time" I suppose. Or "frying fish," to continue your sensory metaphor.
    Haha....now what would Reed College's scratch n' sniff scent be?

    LOL! Did you see the author's comment at the end of the Chronicle story?
    In any case, I can only guess that many quintessential scents of college would never turn up in a marketing plan. “I’m pretty sure,” one colleague wrote in an email, “my alma mater would have smelled like stale beer.”
  • CatriaCatria Posts: 10,395Registered User Senior Member
    There would be hundreds of Agnes Scott seniors who would ring the bell on a yearly basis...
  • texaspgtexaspg Posts: 13,485Super Moderator Senior Member
    I think they prefer scarfs as Chicago already figured out. :D
  • whenhenwhenhen Posts: 3,931Registered User Senior Member
    Haha....now what would Reed College's scratch n' sniff scent be?
    I'm pretty sure Reed's scratch n' sniff would cause application numbers to go sky high.

    Sometimes I think that if a college really wants to increase their application/enrollment numbers they should just have a few pictures of what really happens on Friday or Saturday nights.

    In all seriousness, in Hendrix College's application, they ask students what their favorite candy bar is. I put down Twix, and a few weeks later, after I was admitted, a king sized bar of Twix came in the mail. Even though it was clearly a gimmick, Hendrix immediately moved up on my list.
  • woodswomanwoodswoman Posts: 59Registered User Junior Member
    My son got a U of Chicago T shirt just for sending them his ACT scores. He didn't end up going but he wears the T shirt quite a bit.
  • mmmgirlmmmgirl Posts: 933Registered User Member
    Personally, my favorite college marketing gimmick was getting ACTUAL INFORMATION about the colleges. A few schools (Chicago, American), sent thick, novel-like viewbooks that were packed with statistics, interviews with students, anything you could think of. Getting a "scratch and sniff" viewbook wouldn't affect my decision at all. I already know what grass smells like.
  • lmkh70lmkh70 Posts: 945Registered User Member
    I am not sure about how the kids would feel. I suspect the smell of pine might remind them of Christmas. I live where we don't have pine trees anymore. When we go back and visit family in some summers, we spend a lot of time outside, where there is a definite smell of pine. I miss it. We went hiking last week, and I really have been noticing what I miss.

    I do think the post acceptance part does make a difference. I cannot stand the college I went to. Perhaps if they made any effort at all for students (such as having advisors, or orientation, or anything else) then I would have good memories. Everyone I know who went where I went hated it there, including my brother and just some old friends. I think any effort is great. As an alumni, if anyone asked me, I would not recommend my college. I greatly value alumni opinions. Also, our children can change their mind up to May 1. If the school makes no effort to get them excited, they just might not show.

    In fact, just reading about the brochure they sent out and the gloves, I want to go read more about this college! It sounds very nice!
  • stillnadinestillnadine Posts: 346Registered User Member
    Over the top but effective: a college rep hand-delivered DD's acceptance and scholarship offer to her, at school. The college is about 4 hours away. My DD has never felt so wanted. Moved the school to the top of her list.

    Do other schools do this, too?
  • marshallmeyer12marshallmeyer12 Posts: 444Registered User Member
    Subconscious cues to enroll.
  • TickGreyTickGrey Posts: 481Registered User Member
    I prefer actual information personally. The colleges that have sent me real factbooks and real information have gotten actual looks, while the crappy pamphlets that are more ads than info have been ignored.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Posts: 11,378Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think we ever got any mailing from D1's college. But man oh man, when we visited, the open door impressed her and me. It was a unique weekend, but we were so encouraged to visit any class, explore any aspect, ask any questions - so un-gimmicky that we both immediately suspected it was the real deal. And it turned out to be that and more.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone Posts: 2,476CC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    And it turned out to be that and more.

    Sounds great! Would you be willing to share the name of the school?
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