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Prospective students lured with Oberlin treats

New packets aimed to show academics and fun sides

by Sara Foss

It's almost enough to make you wish you were a prospective again.

This year's accepted students will receive a packet containing information about Oberlin academics and some of the less studious of student life.

The packet contains about 15 items, including letters from Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Clayton Koppes and Dean of the Conservatory Karen Wolff, an academic calendar, an activities calendar, information about the Multicultural Resource Center, a copy of Around the Square, and a letter containing the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of current Oberlin students. Sounds boring, you say?

The packet also includes a t-shirt, a letter from Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry's with a coupon for free ice-cream and a phone card allowing admitted students to inform friends and family of their acceptance at Oberlin. On hearing about the packet, some current students wished they too had received a packet. "It sucks," said sophomore John Fedota of the package. "We got the shaft."

"It's a box of goodies," said Conservatory Director of Admissions Michael Manderen. "It has information, but a fun tone as well."

The Offices of Communications, Admissions and the President worked together to create the packet.

In the beginning, the packet included "anything and everything" Al Moran, director of communications, said. Test groups composed of high school seniors and early admits were shown all of the items considered for inclusion in the packet. Their opinions of what was and wasn't worthwhile were taken into consideration when determining the packet's final contents.

Moran said the packet was well received with the test groups. A follow-up survey will be sent out to determine what impact, if any, the packet had on students' decisions. The follow-up survey will also determine what to keep in the packet and what to leave out.

"I expect to see a very good response and a very positive reaction," Moran said. He said the Alumni Executive Council and Board of Trustees liked the packet.

Some students felt the move to woo perspectives was worthwhile. "They might as well," said junior Eric Weg. "It's good to charm them as much as they can."

Each prospective student recieves letters from both Wolff and Koppes, but the versions depend on whether they are prospective college or Conservaory students. College students receive a letter from Wolff explaining the opportunities the Conservatory has to offer them, while Conservatory students receive a letter from Koppes describing the opportunities in the college. There is also a letter for college students about the college from Koppes, and a letter for Conservatory students about the Conservatory from Wolff.

Manderen said he likes the packet, though it is more slanted toward the college. "I got to thinking," Manderen said. "What sets Oberlin apart from other music schools is that the College is a backdrop."

Students and their parents will also receive a letter of welcome from President Nancy Dye and a letter explaining the financial aspects of the school from Vice President for Finance Andy Evans. Evans' letter explains loan options and payment plans available.

Phone-a-thons, where current students will call prospectives and talk to them about Oberlin, are scheduled, and from April 13-19 prospectives will descend upon Oberlin for the College's massive recruiting drive, All Roads Lead to Oberlin.

Chermonte said the means of communication has changed over the last few years between applicants and the college. She said fewer people are writing letters and more people are using e-mail to correspond.

Around 500 people contacted Oberlin on-line as the first contact with the college, and many more than that keep contact up, Chermonte said. "It has become a very popular way [of contacting the school]," she said.

"We correspond with a lot of students by e-mail now," Chermonte said. She said it takes away some of the formality because in e-mail. "We are more casual in our style of writing," she said.


Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 18; March 28, 1997

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