Today, The New York Times writer Jacques Steinberg focused his blog on the 3-D materials sent out by Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ admissions office that include pairs of 3-D glasses.
Last year, the Colleges sent out their first publication to use 3-D glasses to reinforce the message that HWS changes how you see the world. This year, the effort has been expanded to a brochure high school students receive if they express interest in additional information from the Colleges.
“At a time when many colleges are working desperately to stand out and attract prospective students… Hobart may have found a creative approach,” Steinberg says.
“A number of high school college counselors have already asked the college to send them extra pairs of the glasses (custom-printed with the Hobart name) to have ready on their desks when students drop in to look at the Hobart materials, among those of other colleges,” notes Steinberg.
The full text of the article follows.
The New York Times
The Choice: Demystifying College Admissions and Aid
Viewing a College Through 3-D Lenses
Jacques Steinberg • February 10, 2010
More than two years before moviegoers would don 3-D glasses to watch “Avatar” on movie screens, administrators at Hobart and William Smith Colleges gathered to contemplate new ways to get the attention of 16- and 17-year-old potential applicants.
The idea was to communicate that the college (in Geneva, N.Y., and known to most outsiders as simply Hobart) would “change the way you see the world,” said Cathy Williams, the college’s director of communications. “3-D glasses came to mind.”
The result? This year, more than 12,000 high school juniors will receive a 3-D version of the college’s brochure, accompanied by a folded pair of two-color glasses that appear as if they could be used to see a 1950’s monster movie at a drive-in. Nearly 10,000 more who request the college’s catalogue – known in the admissions world as its viewbook – will also receive the glasses.
“At first we thought, is it too retro?” Ms. Williams said. “Then we thought, more than just a gimmick – although, I admit, it is a really good gimmick – it really is a metaphor for our educational experience here.”
Many of the teenagers who have received the glasses from Hobart were identified through a College Board search program, in which institutions can buy lists of students who have scored above a certain level on the PSAT or SAT, or signaled an interest in a particular field of study.
“Open your eyes to new possibilities at HWS,” is how one e-mail message to juniors begins. “Respond online or by text message to get your 3-D glasses and learn about what HWS can offer you.”
Those who have taken the college up on its offer have been able to view specially prepared photographs on paper, such as a three-dimensional rendering of Coxe Hall on the college’s quad, as well as videos online featuring professors explaining the physics and other aspects of the three-dimensional experience.
At a time when many colleges are working desperately to stand out and attract prospective students – in a recent Times article, I described how more than 100 colleges were mailing out credit-card-style applications that required no fee or essay – Hobart may have found a creative approach.
A number of high school college counselors have already asked the college to send them extra pairs of the glasses (custom-printed with the Hobart name) to have ready on their desks when students drop in to look at the Hobart materials, among those of other colleges.
Still, I asked John W. Young, the college’s director of admissions, whether using the glasses as a hook might somehow trivialize the Hobart experience and liken it to a form of entertainment.
“It’s one of the things we’ve been really cognizant about,” he said. “While this may be a neat way of doing this, there’s a seriousness to what we’re communicating.”
Among the many positive e-mail and voice mail messages that the college says it has received about the promotion were those from students and alumni who described using the glasses in a way the college hadn’t anticipated.
As Mr. Young had already discovered first-hand, the glasses turned out to be compatible with the 3-D tribute to Michael Jackson on the recent Grammy Awards telecast.
Have any readers of The Choice used the glasses to size up Hobart? If so, what did you think? And do others think the basic idea is as fun and innovative as Hobart does, or something else? Please use the comment box below to let us know.