A FASET leader answers questions for curious freshmen. This year, significantly fewer applicants are vying for the chance to be such a frosh in 1998. Is it a plot?
In the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter pointed out one simple truth regarding human nature: "We covet what we see every day." This brief aphorism might explain the reason why the University of Georgia has experienced an increase in applications for admission while Georgia Tech has recently suffered a decrease in submitted applications.
Every day, Georgians are forced to read the monolithic Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the largest paper around for local news. With appalling frequency, readers have been exposed to headline articles about lesser in-state schools, namely UGA. Prospective college applicants can not avoid the deluge of University of Georgia publicity that confronts AJC readers almost daily.
Georgia Tech Director of Admissions Deborah Smith admits a "possible" link between the 11 percent decline in number of in-state applications from last year and the lack of publicity in local publications that Tech has received relative to other in-state institutions.
"I'm sure it doesn't help us that the University of Georgia has gotten so much publicity," noted Smith.
Smith believes that the recent boom in popularity that UGA has experienced is simply a phase that many schools pass through for various reasons. Auburn, the University of Florida, and even Tech have passed in and out of popularity phases within the last decade.
"Georgia's just a hot school right now," explained Smith.
Over the past two years, UGA has raised its admissions standards to become more competitive with institutions like Tech, and, thereby, has enjoyed escalating interest.
"The fact that UGA has raised its admissions standards is news. It's not news for Georgia Tech. We have a long history of accepting highly qualified students and offering a rigorous curriculum," explained Associate Director of Communications Amelia Gambino.
Prospective in-state college applicants are endlessly exposed to these changes at the University of Georgia through the seemingly prejudiced Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The AJC is wrought with a disproportionate amount of UGA journalism graduates, a situation which seems to imply a certain institutional bias.
The Georgia Tech administration realizes the importance of marketing and publicizing Tech's qualities to prospective applicants and has already planned new initiatives for overcoming the local media bias. Next week, administration officials from Admissions and Communications will meet to "come up with a plan to focus on key markets through local media, better use of the web, [and] high school counselors," explained Gambino.
The main thrust of Tech's new marketing approach involves the strategic placement of Georgia Tech stories in regions determined to be key recruitment areas through data collected by Admissions and the Alumni Association. This strategy will help expose prospective students to what Tech has to offer. Gambino stresses the importance of utilizing meaningful, relevant publicity in Tech's new marketing approach.
"Publicity works best to reinforce a message. So for prospective students, we need to define a clear message."
Hopefully, Tech's new recruitment message will be heard by prospective students loud and clear across the state and they will, once again, learn to covet our great school. To use yet another movie adage, Georgia Tech is, of course, "the best of the best."