Sunday, February 18, 2018
Wall Street Journal, Who’s at the Door? College Officials Delivering Your Acceptance in Person (Sometimes With a Dog):
Admissions officers are traveling hundreds of miles with a live animal to inform high-school seniors they have been accepted to a college—and to urge them to enroll. It’s not just the star athletes or scholarship winners who get the treatment. It is pretty much anyone, a tactic driven by competition to snag the declining number of college-bound high-school students.
One of the hardest working college salesmen is Trip, a 6-year-old English bulldog with doleful, dark eyes. His predecessors are retired.
On road trips, he paces himself with long naps in the back seat of the school’s car while it shuttles him from Butler University in Indiana to prospective students’ homes in Boston, Milwaukee, Orlando and Chicago. Occasionally he hitches an airplane ride if his visits coincide with road games for the school’s nationally ranked basketball team. ...
When he travels to meet prospective students, his job is mostly to look fetching as he poses on porches, living-room rugs and in front of fireplaces. He gives paw-shakes, or “high-fives” when the acceptance is announced. So far this year, the bulldog has visited about 50 accepted students.
There were 224,000 fewer undergraduates enrolled in colleges and universities in 2017 than in 2016. That decline is part of a larger drop which is forcing enrollment departments to get creative to keep up the flow of applications, acceptances and tuition checks. At many schools the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Moody’s recently downgraded its outlook for the higher education sector to negative.
“I would hope that no one would base their college attendance decision on swag, or a visit from a dog,” said Dina Berne, whose daughter Miriam was greeted by the trio from Butler after Ms. Strickland. “But it was really sweet.”