How Direct Mail Influenced  My College Decision + 3 Tactics and Tips

a pile of postcards on a table. One is for an open house at a college, and the other is an appointment reminder

When you’re in high school, there’s a lot of pressure put on you to decide where you’re going to attend college. Whether or not you want to attend, the pressure is still there. For me, I had my heart set on next to none. I knew what I wanted to possibly go to college for, but I shied away from the large financial commitment and overall work that went into applying. I was intimidated and afraid of change.

Before I knew it, I was receiving an abundance of mail from different universities all over the state. Fancy brochures, with high quality photos all telling me the same thing. “Start your future here.” “Unleash your potential.” “Say hello to endless possibilities.” Needless to say some stood out to me, others didn’t. All in all, the one thing that pushed me to apply to the college that I attended for four years was…… direct mail.


As time went on I noticed I was receiving a lot of mail from one particular college. At least two or three pieces a week. If you’ve read our blogs, you know that direct mail is a long term investment and sending mail consistently over a period of time is likely to get you the results you want. When it comes to colleges and universities this is so important. There is only a small window of time between students applying to a college and them actually committing for the fall semester. So, you need to send out mail not only as early as possible, but as consistently as possible. I guess you could call this “soft urgency.”


I received postcards, personalized letters, informational brochures all made out to me. This particular school was pulling out all the stops to assure me that I would feel at home while kick starting my career. Whenever I started to think about applying to college, I would think about this school. Their mail all had a similar message and CTA. They gave me the opportunity to apply with no application fee, and they were already mentioning scholarship opportunities. Colleges that express emotion, and show that they care, leave an impression on prospective students and parents. It certainly left an impression on me.

“Whenever I started to think about applying to college, I would think about this school.”

Personalization can go beyond simply putting a name on a mailer–photos and even content can be personalized. Students provide a lot of information when applying to schools. Sending them mail that not only has their name but targets other areas of interest such as extra curricular activities and sports can boost their motivation to take action.

Lead Nurturing

After months of receiving mail from my now-alma mater, I decided to check out their programs and offerings. They’ve sent me so much mail the past few months, the least I can do is go to their website. I could apply to the college for free and learn more about their scholarship opportunities. Turns out, they had a great program that I was interested in. So I applied, got accepted and attended an open house. After going to this event I received more mail and information from them about the upcoming school year and what to expect. This made me feel even more confident and less anxious about the unknown of starting at a new school. After any interaction with a prospective student–website visits, open houses, college fairs, parent weekends–it’s important to follow up. Don’t lose the momentum of a warm lead!

In the end, I attended The College of Saint Rose for four years and received a wonderful education in their graphic design program. (that they no longer offer – the shade)
Choosing a college is a large and overwhelming decision. Targeting prospective students and parents with direct mail campaigns that make them feel wanted can help you get the responses you need for new admissions. Keep this in mind when thinking about your next direct mail campaign for new students and scholars alike. Need to get a campaign off the ground? Head to to learn more about how we can kick start your direct mail.