Colleges Buying Student E-Mails


Thursday, August 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — High school students whose mailboxes overflow with college publications each summer and fall may soon find the same onslaught in their virtual mailboxes.

The College Board is selling students' e-mail addresses to colleges and universities this summer for the first time. The nonprofit administrator of the SAT has since the 1970s sold lists of test-takers' names and addresses to accredited colleges.

``We're talking about providing colleges sometimes hundreds and thousands of names where they're really cultivating first contact,'' said Brad Quin, executive director of admission with the Reston, Va.-based College Board.

Only e-mail addresses of students who register online — about 38 percent of the 750,000 students who took the test between January and June — are available right now, Quin said.

``That number is growing by leaps and bounds,'' he said.

Many colleges already use e-mail to communicate with their students, but most have yet to take full advantage of virtual marketing, he said. Meanwhile, consulting companies have sprung up to help colleges market themselves online.

``Students don't want mail, they want e-mail,'' said Brian Niles, whose Philadelphia-area company, TargetX.com, helps colleges communicate with students through e-mail. The company has already been contacted by schools for assistance in setting up and administering e-mail systems.

Contacting prospective students through e-mail serves a dual purpose: It's cheaper and it shows students that the college uses the same technology that they do, Niles said.

He has created a student search service which will use the College Board's e-mail list and will cost colleges 6 cents for each message plus a $150 setup fee.

At Temple University, admissions officers are already using e-mail to stay in contact with students, said Donna Mlaker, the university's associate director of admissions. The school does not use e-mail addresses, though, to contact prospective students initially.

``We haven't gotten that far in our planning. It would be a huge number of students that we would be sending to,'' she said.

``I think it would depend on what our system could handle,'' she said.

Paul Cramer, director of admissions at Ursinus College, said his institution probably would not be interested in sending mass e-mailings to prospective students. Ursinus, with 1,250 students, is located about 23 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

This year, the school is providing laptop computers to all its students as part of the $29,600 cost of tuition, room and board.

``We want to let them know that we are wired and that we have these capabilities. At the same time, we don't want to abuse it by spamming,'' Cramer said.

Quin, of the College Board, said he also has concerns about spam, or computer junk mail.

He sees his own teen-age son sliding through large numbers of e-mail messages each day, skipping many of them.

``The college has to be very careful about how it crafts its message,'' he said.

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On the Net:

The College Board: http://collegeboard.com

TargetX: http://www.targetx.com