Fat Envelope Torture

Each spring, somewhere in the bowels of college admissions offices around the country is a network of diabolical admissions officers executing their annual conspiracy – Code Name: Fatty.

Early spring’s annual college admissions rite of passage finds Seniors anxiously awaiting ANY news from the colleges in which they applied.  One day, something catches in mom’s peripheral vision, as she’s hurrying by the front window.  She watches incredulously as the postal carrier gently lifts the large parcel, seemingly in slow motion, from his blue canvas shoulder bag.

The mythical Fat Envelope bearing the return address of a top choice college has finally arrived.  She can hardly contain her joy, holding the package to the light to peer inside, seriously pondering if the steam from a boiling kettle over the seal will actually let her inside the thin paper coating, the only  separation between her offspring and future prosperity.  She excitedly texts, calls, sends flares into the air for dad to come back home immediately to celebrate.

Then, ambushing the teen as the front door knob begins turning, parents thrust the Fat Envelope into the kid’s hands, as the whole crowd erupts in shrieks of relief. Gleefully, the entire family circles to witness the ripping open of the seal in one sweeping, triumphant motion – yet carefully enough not to disturb the expected acceptance letter inside, as it needs to be proudly displayed alongside the bronzed baby shoes.

Yet, unbeknownst to this family and hundreds of others across the country, what’s underneath that thin paper exterior is a…promotional brochure?!? WHAT THE WHAT?!? If not so bewildered, families would hear the collective cackling from across the country of hundreds of college admissions officers bleary-eyed and caffeine-riddled from reading thousands of applications for the past four months, vindictively watching from the hidden cameras in the folds of the glossy paper.

In short, the Myth of the Fat Envelope persists.  And, while the conspiracy theory of admissions officers vengefully sending Trojan Fat Envelopes is a little far-fetched, the emotional reactions to an acceptance letter are not.  Given the personal nature of an college admissions news, Seniors (and parents) beware, lurking in that Fat Envelope may not be what you think.  Remember, email or online college application portals are more likely today’s method of choice for college admissions officers to respond to applicants.  And, college admissions officers, have mercy – hold off on the promotional mailings until after May 1.

Based on a true story from a client who received not only ONE Fat Envelope, but TWO Fat Envelopes from the SAME college on the SAME day – one from admissions and one from financial aid.  SCORE! Right?  No such luck – only a glossy pamphlet featuring smiling young adults on green, grassy quads throwing frisbees and a reminder from financial aid to finish applying for assistance. Thankfully, she shared her story with Creative Marbles Consultancy, rather than letting loose her distress on the unnamed college’s admissions office.   

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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