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You’re number 103 in line. When your turn comes, you’ll have 20, maybe 30, seconds. Go ahead—tell the story of your institution. Here’s a hint: The first 102 talked about their talented faculty, small classes, personal attention and beautiful campus.

As the author of more than 100 higher education admissions publications, including search pieces, viewbooks and web texts, I have a simple mission: don't do the same old crap. And after judging hundreds of admissions materials in many national awards programs, I am, sadly, an expert on the same old crap. Here’s what so many fail to do: Establish a voice for the piece that has an actual living, breathing personality, a sense of itself and a sense of humor. So many colleges and universities feel the need to put a photo of some historic campus building on the cover, and then offer up writing that reads as thrillingly as the electrical diagram for that building. (Or, worse even, they try to be hip and cool.) Ain't going to get inside a 17-year-old’s head that way. You know they don’t want to hear the voice of the university, they want to hear a voice that resonates in their life—a voice that’s more about them, in the end, than about your school. In concert with the great graphic designers and photographers who make me look far better than I am, I have received 23 CASE Gold and Grand Gold Awards, as well as the Grand Crystal. More importantly, colleges and universities have seen response rates increase by as much as 400 percent, and have recorded corresponding increases in enrollment and student quality.

Here are a few random samples. Hear the voice:

   
 
REED COLLEGE   WARNER PACIFIC COLLEGE
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY   FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
RUTGERS-CAMDEN   AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE
CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK
  THE UNIVERSITY OF PUGET SOUND

 

   
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