As a teacher, I always spend the $250 that the government allows me to claim. Some teachers might spend it on learning materials for the classroom or for themselves. Others buy goodies for the kids. Some like to decorate the rooms. Because my district didn't find a piece of technology useful when I requested it, I bought it myself recently ($300). In comparison to my friends in other fields, I tend to spend money in areas they can get free, like college credit, attending conferences, or acquiring supplies for work.
When our guidance department suggested we teachers participate in "College Wednesday," I saw it as another unfortunate opportunity for me to spend money on the classroom. The idea is that teachers are supposed to get the students excited about college by wearing college shirts and talking about attending. However, my UW-Milwaukee shirt was bought about 10 years ago, and I never even bought a UW-Eau Claire shirt, so I kind of had nothing to wear. I did have an idea, though.
Like the guy who sent out 100 letters of compliment in order to see how much free stuff he could get, I decided to send out emails in order to see how many free t-shirts to wear I can get. This is not a gimmick: I will wear the shirts in the order I receive them and I will discuss the particular college with my students. However, I will NOT be buying ANY shirts. If I don't receive any shirts, then my students will not hear about any colleges on College Wednesday. I see it as a win-win situation: The colleges get someone the students respect talking their college up a bit, and I get the shirts to wear without spending more of my own money to do it.
After some of the first "no" responses, I got a little miffed. Think about it: if I convince ONE student to attend a college, they'll make between $20,000 to $100,000 off of that one decision, and some of the colleges just want to direct me to their bookstore. I can handle the ones who just send me a pennant and some literature. I'm setting up a display case at school documenting my experiment, and they will all be represented.
I will keep a chart of who received emails from me and who sent me shirts, etc. Check that out below. The original letter is posted after the chart.
|Surprisingly, I received a personalized email saying that they're excited that I'm promoting college with my students. The letter came in the envelope with NO SHIRTS.
|NO SHIRT. I'm sad that the college that took my money for two years (and that I'm still paying for) does not want me to have a t-shirt in order to promote them.
|No email or formal response. Just the package.
|4th to respond. T-shirt and some literature. I had some friends at UW-GB, so I spent a few weekends there, though I don't know a whole lot about what they offer academically.
NO SHIRT - FAIL
TK wants me to purchase shirts? Maybe he/she forgot to read the email I sent because I am not wearing shirts unless I get them for FREE. Do you think if I could pass a football they might have some free shirts for me? Not totally fair: same goes for all D1 colleges that deny me.
|online form - broken
|No personal response that I received, though they did send a package.
|2nd to send items. One t-shirt and pamphlets. I will tell my students about how I wanted to attend UW-Oshkosh when I was a senior because that campus had the highest percentage of females of any UW school back then. Those stats don't matter to me today, but it's a fun story.
|A nice hand-written card in the box of goodies.
|5th. Two t-shirts, lunchbox, 20 pens, and a pennant. I wasn't even sure UW-Parkside was still operating, so this is a good sign they are. They seem to be focusing on the arts, and I am an arts-type club advisor, so it fits, and they said like over 90% of their arts students get jobs in the field, which seems pretty good to me.
|Just the envelope with the items sent
|6th. Two t-shirts. No XL, which is too bad, since an XL-wearing co-worker attended Stout for a year and wanted to wear the shirt. Some literature in a folder.
|No email that made it to my inbox, but a package with a t-shirt came after a couple of weeks.
|3rd. Free t-shirt and literature, which I'll have to read. I never considered Superior myself because I imagined it was too cold up there. Looked it up , and the average low is below freezing for half the year. I'm sure their dorms have heaters.
|took them a while longer than some of the UW schools, but they got me one
Email response (1st), saying they're sending a package with two t-shirts. The admissions person seemed excited about what we're trying to do and she seems to recognize the investment potential.
|1st. Two t-shirts, pens, mouse pad, chip clip, and pamphlets. UW-Waukesha is a great option for many of my students, so I'll talk it up when I wear the shirt.
| "Thank you for your interest in Harvard College!
-A mailing address is required.
-Our office does not stock items such as clothing, writing implements, or other paraphernalia, though we will send what items we have.
-During our busiest season (October - May), our office cannot guarantee shipment of any requests by a certain date. It can often take up to 4-6 weeks to fulfill a request at that time.
All the best,
Harvard College Admissions"
For the top-ranked university in our country, you'd think they might read the contact emails they receive! I didn't say I wanted "items" they happen to have in stock. I just asked for a shirt. No posters or stat sheets about how much their graduates make. That's what they send guidance counselors.
| Dear Brian,
Thank you for your email.
At this time we’d be happy to send you a Princeton University poster and pennant for your classroom.
Our next mailing will go out later this month or early October.
|No personal response.
|NO SHIRT. I got an envelope that smelled funny (the smell of money, perhaps?) and contained a miniature pennant, six writing utensils, and some handouts for students.
|No personal response, but they did send a little care package. Another Ivy League college not following the basic rules.
|NO SHIRT. I did get a pennant and some literature, which is better than Harvard's form letter with nothing.
|University of Chicago
|no way to contact online
Some colleges have decided to contact students instead of allowing students to contact them. Only using social media is a risk. I can see online forms instead of posting email addresses, but if I'm an interested student, NOT having a direct online contact is a turn-off.
I spent a long time on the site in order to not even send a message.
|This is the only college I sent a link to this article to. I thought it would inspire conformity. Their response was a form letter and the items listed to the right.
|NO SHIRT. Several pennants that could be stiched together to form a shirt. Also, several handouts.
|Cardinal Stritch University
| Link I provide is old and dead, probably because of the name change from Carroll College.
"Thanks Brian for your email and for the opportunity to have a Carroll t-shirt worn in your class. We will send you a t-shirt ASAP.
|Concordia University - WI
|Email response saying they'd send a shirt
|This one took me a long time to email
|A nice personalized letter sent along with recruiting items
|I have to admit, I was surprised that Marquette gave me a decent shirt instead of telling me to head on over to their bookstore.
|12th shirt While I don't necessarily believe that a Marquette education would have been any better academically for me, I do know that the name opens some doors, and I'll tell my students that
|Milwaukee Inst. Art
|Two artsy t-shirts
|Milwaukee Sch of Eng
|Mount Mary College
|I'll give Mount Mary an in-between rating. They DID give a t-shirt, but one of my colleagues got to them first (stealing my idea!), so I won't use the letter on them. So much for the female-only colleges.
|Silver Lake College
|St. Norbert College
|Wisconsin Lutheran College
If you happen to be a representative of a college and you run across this website, feel free to send me a t-shirt for College Wednesday and you will be added to the list. Here's my original letter:
To Whom it May Concern,
I am an English teacher at Menomonee Falls High School near Milwaukee, WI. Our school is working on a program wherein we promote attending college. Teachers are to wear college shirts on Wednesdays in order to showcase a particular college and attending college in general.
While I attended UW-Milwaukee and UW-Eau Claire myself, I am contacting several colleges with the hopes that I will be given the opportunity to discuss many college options during the course of the semester.
I am leaving the list of colleges that I discuss in your hands. I will not be purchasing any shirts this year. However, I will wear all shirts I receive and I will discuss those colleges with the students.
Please consider making an investment into your recruiting efforts. I am a size XL or L, and I’d be willing to distribute any extra shirts to other staff at the school. You might also want to include handouts or freebies for the students, and information for me to read before I introduce your school to the students.
I have always discussed my own experiences in college with my students, and I want them to make the right choices for themselves Being exposed to several local and national options would be useful to that end. Our school has an average ACT of around a 23, and we are improving, partially because students are getting more excited about the importance of higher education. Please consider providing me with the opportunity to help these students make important decisions by allowing me to present information about what you have to offer.
Menomonee Falls High School
W142 N8101 Merrimac Dr.
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051