I distinctly remember when my daughter Allison began her third year of secondary school. That was the point when colleges and universities started to send her information—a lot of information! In the United States, university applications are due in the early part of the fourth year of high school, so when we started receiving thick packets in the mail we were still a year away from application season.
Allison would get beautifully designed, hundred-page, full-color magazine-like documents in the mail. Each day would bring letters galore. Then the emails started coming. Because she took the PSAT standardized test administered by the College Board and she had given permission to contact her, hundreds and hundreds of colleges and universities sent her email pitches and direct mail packages. Each of these expensive sales come-ons was designed to drive my daughter into that school's selling process in the hope that she would want to learn more about the school, visit, apply for admission, and ultimately attend.
Nearly all of the print material went into the recycle bin. Every email was deleted unread. Allison had already begun her own personal buying process. Yet many hundreds of schools were still selling to her, wasting her time and their money.
Without being pushed by us, her parents, Allison had gotten interested in the process of choosing and applying to schools when she entered high school, and shortly ...