Some students and some colleges have no trouble finding each other. But for those harder to match, a new for-fee student registry is inviting kids (and their parents) to buy space on the internet to advertise high school students to colleges and universities.

Some college admissions officers wonder if students will be getting their money’s worth.

Scholastic Registry, a company in Danbury, Conn., charges high school students $50 to advertise themselves to colleges and universities via online “application-like” profiles. The site claims to help students promote their qualifications to the admissions officers who visit the web site for recruitment purposes.

Students’ online personal profiles list their grades, participation in athletics and extracurricular activities, community service, leadership ability, and foreign language mastery.

Information gathered at the site isn’t sent out to colleges. Rather, recruitment or admissions officers can visit the site and search for potential candidates for next year’s incoming class.

Colleges also can search for students by ethnicity, which is an optional data box on the profile form, and by sex, which students are required to disclose.

“This permits students to market themselves to hundreds of colleges without having to file an application form,” said George Bednar, president of Scholastic Registry. “And colleges can use the profiles to recruit students with specific skills and talents–something they’ve never been able to do before.”

Scholastic Registry says more than 200 colleges and universities have used its web site for student recruitment. Dozens–including some of the top-ranking schools in the country, such as Amherst and Yale–have signed agreements to access the Scholastic Registry, according to the company.

Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, is one of the many schools the company says signed an agreement. But the admissions staff member from Carnegie Mellon who talked with eSchool News had never heard of the service. Lisa Kulick, assistant director of admissions and university relations, said her office had no knowledge of Scholastic Registry.

Kulick added that the registry didn’t sound like a resource she would use to recruit students, pointing to one of the inherent limitations to the service: The best schools–and even those not considered exclusive–are turning away increasing numbers of students each year, not looking for more candidates, according to Kulick.

“[Carnegie Mellon’s] reputation is such that we already receive a large number of applications for a very few number of spots,” Kulick said, adding that the university accepts less than 10 percent of the 13,000 applications it receives each year.

Recruitment or marketing?

What students who shell out $50 for the service might not realize: Their names, addresses, and other information will be given for free to colleges and universities to use as they wish–to send marketing information, for instance.

That’s exactly what some schools are planning on doing. Rafael Figueroa, the associate dean of admissions at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., says his school will send out recruitment information to select names that it will draw from the Scholastic Registry database.

According to Figueroa, Wesleyan each year buys the names of prospective students and then blankets those students with information about the school. Only a small percentage of those mailings result in appropriate matches, Figueroa acknowledged. One way he’ll use the registry’s list, he said, will be to test-market promotional packages sent to prospective students.

Using the Scholastic Registry won’t cost Wesleyan a dime. In the first year of the program, colleges and universities won’t have to pay to use the list of prospective student names and addresses. That will probably change in the second year, said Figueroa.

Ellen Silver, a spokeswoman for Scholastic Registry, said the company expected about 10,000 students to be registered at the site by the time school started this fall. Several thousand had been registered as of June 1, she said, but exact numbers are not available.

Admissions officers said they would hesitate before using a fee-based service.

“Morally, I would have a difficult time subscribing to anything that students have to pay to participate [in],” said Karen Torgersen, admissions director for Virginia Tech.

Tom Green, the admissions director for the Columbus (Ohio) College of Art & Design, said students should take the time to research and approach colleges they believe match their needs and qualifications.

Students are being naive, Green added, if they think a web page of their accomplishments will draw the notice of an Ivy League admissions officer.

Instead, said Green, students should be using their network of resources to find the right school. Academic counselors, parents, and admissions staff can help students identify their career goals and appropriate schools to target.

But the Scholastic Registry maintains that the web site will help colleges and universities find very specific kinds of students.

“They can look for French horn players with 1200 on their SATs who live in Idaho,” said Bednar. He concedes that the web site is creating–not filling–a need. “Most colleges recruit for athletics, but not for other skills, and they can now,” he said.

Another benefit of the service, the company says, is that it allows high school juniors to begin marketing themselves to colleges and universities before the application process officially begins.

The site was created with assistance from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American School Counselor Association.

Scholastic Registry
http://www.scholasticregistry.com

Amherst College
http://www.amherst.edu

Yale University
http://www.yale.edu/

Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.cmu.edu/

Wesleyan University
http://www.wesleyan.edu

Virginia Tech
http://www.vt.edu

Columbus College of Art & Design
http://www.ccad.edu/

Lehigh University
http://www.lehigh.edu/

American School Counselor Association
http://www.schoolcounselor.org/

National Association of Secondary School Principals
http://www.nassp.org/