Pricing in College Applications

TechCruch reports on a service from Usphere that makes it easy for college applicants to apply to multiple schools using a common web form and one $65 fee.

Usphere advertises the service as an opportunity to apply and be accepted to schools “off the beaten path” that students may not have thought about before. They doesn’t openly publish the schools in its directory, but one can guess it consists of niche schools who need the extra applicants and that applicants might not know a lot about.

I wonder if the administrators of these schools have considered the full cost burden that this program will place on them. They may see Usphere as a great way to get “free” applicants but a program like this will have a real costs. Every application will need to be evaluated in some way regardless of how seriously the student is considering the school.

Since each additional school has a marginal cost of zero for the applicant, there is no incenetive for them to limit the number of schools they apply to. This situation will lead to high costs for the school and lower yield rates in terms of accepted applicants to matriculated students.

One thought on “Pricing in College Applications

  1. Hi from U Sphere HQ.

    Glad that I’ve stumbled into another free market economist.

    Pricing…well, that’s an interesting one, when you look at the value that colleges place on leads, or, even better, “qualified leads.” If you take the Tulane example (they were cited in the Wall Street Journal in September of 05 as spending $2712 in marketing costs for EACH matrciulating Freshman), you can see where we’re hoping to add value by making connections — connections that each side is currently paying a lot more for.

    We also match the students — that’s where our trade secret comes in — and, thus, a school that subscribes is NOT inundated with applications that they cannot use.

    (Unless, of course, the school WANTS to have 10,000 more applicants so it can deny 9500 of them and thus appear more selective. That, though, would be gaming the system and not something we would want to see.)

    Love this dialogue and thanks for the posting.


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