Here are some of the questions I’ve been pondering, as M’s junior year draws to a close, and the college marketing picks up in intensity:
1) Why do colleges mail so many brochures that all look basically the same? M receives a couple each day, and long ago they all started to blur together. All colleges seem to have an activities fair in the fall so students can find clubs to join. All colleges offer opportunities for students to do research or internships or read in a library or sit in a classroom discussing books with a multicultural group of classmates. Yawn. The only startling thing I found in any of the brochures was a picture of a high-school classmate of mine, who is now a full professor in some esoteric discipline. Hmm… I guess we really are old enough for that.
2) Why do colleges send so much email? Teenagers don’t use email; it cuts into their Facebook and texting time too much. And yet M gets 3 or 4 college emails each day, all urging him to go check out their websites. I’m especially baffled by the University of Vermont, which sends him an email at least once a week. Fortunately, since M doesn’t actually use email for much, he doesn’t appear to mind that his inbox is filled with 727 messages, at least 3/4 of which are college messages that he has never even opened.
3) Are colleges going to start making a habit of calling? Within the last few weeks, I’ve answered the phone a few times, and heard a young male voice say, “Hi, is M available?” So I passed the phone off to M, who then discovered it wasn’t a friend of his, but actually a work-study student at some college asking if he wants to get mail about it. (Why ask? They seem to be sending it anyway.) M is very polite to the work-study students and doesn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying “no,” which is how we ended up with a hundred-page little book about Sewanee, a school that he has absolutely no interest in.
4) Why do I keep assuming the callers are M’s friends just because they’re young and male? In terms of communications, the teen hierarchy seems to be:
1) Facebook message
3) Talk in person
4) Facebook message someone to ask what someone else told them in person about someone else’s text
6) Phone, so that your parents will quit yelling, “Just pick up the freakin’ phone and call and find out if he needs a ride because we’re leaving in 5 minutes and we don’t have time to wait and see if he gets back on Facebook.”
On the rare occasions a friend does call, they usually get as far as “Hello” before being struck dumb by the prospect of talking to a parent, leaving me to say, “You want to talk to M, right? Let me get him for you.” It’s only the work-study students who ask for M by name. Well, maybe M will learn better phone habits from all the marketing calls. The kid from the University of Montana was especially polite.