Corner of laptop open to a browser with an email inbox on screen

College Recruitment Emails Have a Use

Getting a million messages from colleges can be annoying, but they do have a purpose. If you keep these steps in mind, you can turn them to your advantage.

Yes, you read that title right. And yes, I am referring to the millions of messages you and many other students have been getting since your first year of high school—emails, letters, posters, and all sorts of other things. These can be annoying, or even downright upsetting; however, they do have a use. If you keep all of the following in mind and approach these emails and letters in a prepared way, you can turn them to your advantage. I know this because I have.

So, without further ado, here are some ways to make use of those recruitment emails.

Look past the “recruitment fluff” to get a real glimpse of the university sending the email

I can guarantee that just about every recruitment email will say one or more of the following:

  1. You are a gifted student.
  2. We have small class sizes.
  3. We have a small student-faculty ratio.
  4. We have a diverse student body representing all 50 states and X countries.
  5. You should come visit us.
  6. We are ranked very highly on a certain list of colleges.
  7. We are committed to making college affordable.
  8. Our application process is special.
  9. We have a nationally recognized curriculum.
  10. Our campus is the most beautiful in the world.
  11. Oh, and we’re completely unique.

Learn to ignore all of these; this is just the college trying to appeal to you. Once you remove these 11 phrases from a recruitment email, only the useful stuff is left behind: random tips, suggestions, programs, opportunities, and even scholarships or useful information about applications and such. It’s then that you can really get the most out of the emails.

Figure out a way to make all the college emails land in one place

Colleges and universities get your personal information from tests like the ACT, SAT, PLAN, and PSAT, as well as other things like AP tests and scholarship sites. If you can somehow direct all of these emails to one isolated place, they will be much easier to look through and compare. One way to do this is by creating a college-only email address through Gmail (or whatever your email service is) and using that address for all of your school things. Another way is to let the emails gather in your inbox, then start using forwarding rules to direct them all to one folder.

Related: How to Organize Your College Search

Take the surveys they send you

Every once in a while, a college will send you an email with a link saying something like “take this survey on our website!” Take those surveys. Yes, they will always end up saying you should go to their university (“It seems you have an interest in physics. Well, our university happens to have an excellent physics department...”). However, the surveys will tell you other things, too, like what you’re interested in, what type of college is for you, and other useful information. If nothing else, they can help you get an idea of what that college is aiming for. In general, it's good to keep talking to the schools you actually want to go to. That's because they track your interest, and though it won't make or break your chances of getting in, it can legitimately help you tip the odds in your favor.

Unsubscribe from schools you don't want to hear from

Every recruitment email has that link within it somewhere; use it. Get rid of any colleges that you just don’t like, and eventually you’ll have an inbox full of emails from only your colleges of interest, which is more useful than not. This will also make room for the non-recruitment emails (see below).

Related: College Mailings: Form Letters, Brochures, and Emails

Sum up the college in one or two words

Each college aims to give you a certain impression, and they’re each different. If you think for a minute and come up with a word that describes a college that sent you an email, it’ll help you know if that college really appeals to you or not. It will also let you know what kind of message that college is trying to send, and whether or not they actually fit that impression. Some examples: Yale, sophisticated; Ohio State, big; Macalester, small; Columbia, city life.

Try to see why they are interested in you

These colleges aren’t just sending you emails because they feel like it. They want you to attend their university, and they want you to make them look good. There is a reason they’re targeting you in particular—you just have to find it. Did you do well on your ACT? Are you interested in a major the college offers? Realizing the reason behind the email will give you an idea of how you appear to scholarship givers, college application readers, job interviewers, and the like. That is valuable information. 

Related: How to Talk to Admission Officers in Person and Over Email

Look for programs, visits, scholarship opportunities, etc. that are often included in college emails

Sometimes colleges aren’t trying to recruit you. The only email I ever got from Stanford University (a university I happen to want to go to very much) was about an eight-week summer college program they were offering. These offers are like diamonds in a giant pile of rocks. Some will be pure scams, but occasionally they’ll be truly awesome scholarships or programs like the one Stanford offered. Others will include smaller things, like essay writing tips or example application essays.

Check for offers that aren’t from specific colleges or aren’t even from any colleges at all

This is one of my favorite uses of recruitment emails. Colleges will sometimes tell you about academic opportunities that have nothing to do with that school in particular. In addition, some programs will obtain your email address the same way all those colleges did and use it to send you information about what they offer. This is how I found out about the Common Application, Questbridge, CollegePoint, National Society of High School Scholars, National Young Leaders Conference, and others—and that made looking at recruitment emails totally worth it.

So, they’re not useless. In fact, they can be extremely useful. You may find the college of your dreams through these recruitment emails; or, if you’re like me and have your university chosen already, you’ll find tons of scholarships and other programs ready for you to dive into. So don’t discount these emails as endless trash and abandon your computer for a trek across the Plains just yet.

Find all the college admission advice you need right here on CollegeXpress. Check out our College Admission section now!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

college admission college recruitment college search

About Russel Anderson

My name is Russel Aaron Anderson. I'm a junior in high school, ready to graduate early next May and leave on an LDS mission. My hobbies are history, music, and writing, and I intend to major in physics.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Wendy Thompson

Wendy Thompson

Owner, Westport Educational Consulting

I just discovered your site and LOVE it—fun, interesting, full of incredible information you can’t find anywhere else, and a godsend for those of us in the college counseling business. I am a fan!

Sierra Carranza

Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.

Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson


CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

Ruth Aguilar

Ruth Aguilar

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me by providing me with many scholarship opportunities and information about universities I want to attend. What I love about CollgeXpress is how it provides a variety of information, and as the first child attending a university next year, it has been very essential and helpful. I’m so grateful for this because the information provided by CollegeXpress has also helped me see that there are so many college opportunities, and it always informs me by email. In other words, CollegeXpress has been like a guide for me as a future college student.

College Matches