Student recruitment… a flurry of 14 emails in January

January Application Deadline Drives 14 Email Recruitment Contacts 

January saw 14 emails arrive from four of our secret shopping schools… and half of those were from our “private college in upstate NY” as the quest to receive a “Fast-Forward” application continued. And that quest isn’t over yet: just this morning an “Urgent Notice” email arrived with news that the next “final deadline” to send the application was February 15.
But we get ahead of ourselves. Here’s a review of what has arrived since our last report on December activity. Since the “Fast-Forward” emails don’t vary very much, we’ll limit details except to note the ever-shifting final deadlines that our secret shopper no longer takes seriously.
14 Emails Arrive After December 14
  • January 1: The “private university in Massachusetts” is running out of new material. Today’s email again features a video with current students talking about why they like this place. Good video but I’ve seen it before. More than once.
  • January 4: A “Fast-Forward” email from the “private college in upstate NY” reminds me of the benefits I’ll receive if I apply by January 5.
  • January 4: the “private university in Massachusetts” reminds me in the subject line that “there’s still time to apply” before reinforcing 5 reasons why this is the right place for me and reminding me of the January 15 deadline in the text.
  • January 8: A new email from the “most selective university” crams 8 links with news of what students are doing during the winter break into 4 paragraphs with no space between them. Maybe just a bit too much news in a hard-to-read format. And yes, a reminder of a January 15 application deadline.
  • January 8: Unlike our first email today, this one from the “private university in Rhode Island” is easy to scan quickly to see the three reasons why I should get my application to this school by the January 15 deadline.
  • January 9: January 5 has passed but those “Fast-Forward” perks from the “private college in upstate NY” are still available if I apply by the regular January 15 deadline.
  • January 13: A reminder from the “private college in upstate NY” that only 2 days are left to get the benefits from my “Fast-Forward” application.
  • January 14: the “private university in Rhode Island” is back with a reminder of the January 15 application deadline including a link to the “Class of 1017 Application Guide.” 
  • January 15: The deadline is midnight tonight for the “Fast-Forward” application at the “private college in upstate NY.”
  • January 16: The director of admissions at the “private college in upstate NY” has been able to get me “one extra day” to send in my “Fast-Forward” application.
  • January 22: The extra day has passed but the “private college in upstate NY” is back asking me for my “Fast-Forward” application. No deadline is mentioned in this one.
  • February 1: The new deadline to send my “Fast-Forward” application to the “private college in upstate NY” is February 15. Might this really be the last one? Anyone want to bet?
That’s all in our January Report.

Two schools, the “public honors college in New York” and the “private university in Connecticut” have given up after sporadic email since the late June start of our first inquiries. Nothing arrived from either school in December or January.
And of course the pursuit of that elusive “Fast-Forward” application continued as intensely as before. Indeed, with a new February 15 deadline it seems likely that it will continue for at least another two weeks. When is enough, enough? We’ll see.

Commission your own secret shopping project.

I’ve started a new secret shopping project for a client in the Mid-West. While I’ll blog and tweet about some general observations from that work, specifics are reserved for the client.

Contact me at to arrange your own (and truly secret) secret shopping review to see how you stand vs. your competitors when someone makes an inquiry online. 
One hint based on this new venture: more schools just might reduce the number of “stealth” applicants if they would only make the inquiry form easy to find.

That’s all for now.

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