"God, please bankrupt half the sophomore class. Amen."
For instance, some colleges essentially sell their students' information to credit card companies for a piece of the action. At the University of Michigan, an agreement with Bank of America stuffs $25.5 million into the alumni association's pants in return for the "names and addresses of students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and holders of season tickets to athletic events" -- i.e., everyone who has set foot on the damned campus, ever.
OK, but just encouraging you to sign up for a card isn't actually encouraging you to be irresponsible with it. It's not like they get a bonus for kids racking up more debt than they can pay -- oh, wait. Michigan State University actually does receive royalties from Bank of America based on student spending and, yes, the school can make even more money if the student carries a balance. So the school profits when its students fumble toward financial insolvency. Have we mentioned that the average senior graduates with a ball-busting $4,100 in credit card debt, a figure so staggering that Congress actually passed a goddamn law to restrict credit card access for those under 21?
"Wait, I have to pay this back!?!"
Not that it's just credit card companies diving at students' wallets. At the University of North Carolina, during move-in the school lets Target bus students to a nearby store, where they shop and party with (no shit) the Target mascot, a live DJ ... and the school's vice chancellor. (Wait, Target has a mascot? How would you wear that costume without fear of getting shot at?)
Maybe you're sitting there thinking, "Yeah, schools should do it the old-fashioned way and get all of their money from donations! You know, like how rich people donate in exchange for having a building named after them!" Ah, but that money comes with filthy strings attached, too. Case in point: The BB&T Charitable Foundation donates money with the requirement that the school create a course on capitalism and teach Ayn Rand's bible on human selfishness, Atlas Shrugged. And yes, one of the requirements is that everyone read all 1,200 pages.
At least they didn't have to watch the movie.
#3. They Beg You to Apply Just So They Can Reject You
Who would you say are the most aggressive and borderline unethical marketers out there? It has to be credit card companies, right? They're the ones who employ a sophisticated targeting matrix that results in carpet-bombing "pre-approved" card offers to disinterested consumers, wildly irresponsible spenders and the occasional dog who has been dead for a decade.
In their defense, he had an 800 score.
Well, at some point, colleges looked at that marketing model and said, "You know what? This is a great idea." Colleges are now luring students via techniques usually seen in emails beginning with "REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP."
Instead of the "Pre-Approved for Low-Interest No-Fee Platinum" offers, colleges use a fast-track application, or fast app. With the fast app, colleges have eliminated annoyances like filling in your name, paying an application fee and bothering to write a college essay. Some colleges are sending out VIP applications, supposedly picking the brightest for special attention, implying "platinum" style membership with terms like "Distinctive Candidate Applications" and "Exclusive Scholar Applications." For instance, Marquette University sent out "Advantage" applications to 40,000 students who actually range from valedictorians to some guy who asked for a brochure. Marquette's entire freshman class will be fewer than 2,000 students, by the way.