Foundational Differences

High School Students: They’re Selling Your Personal Information (Bethlehem isn’t buying)

I read an article this week by Jeffrey Selingo that gave a fascinating glimpse into the world of admissions and college recruiting: “The Evolution of Data Targeting Prospective College Students.” College is a big business, like, half a trillion dollars big. The primary source of revenue is tuition, and the market is very competitive. Selingo notes that due to an “over reliance on tuition dollars as a main source of revenue… colleges are increasingly turning to Big Data to better pinpoint prospects as early as their sophomore year in high school.” Where are they learning their techniques? They “aggressively adopted the playbook of consumer marketers by purchasing student names from the big testing companies—the ACT and the College Board.” The marketing is pretty targeted: “it’s all about the amenities for students… the fancy dorms, climbing walls in the state-of-the-art recreation center, and sushi in the dining hall or all-night coffee shops.”

What struck me was the stark difference here at Bethlehem, a difference that goes all the way down to our foundation. Bethlehem doesn’t exist to increase revenue, we exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. Tuition is not our biggest source of revenue—in fact, Bethlehem loses money on every student we enroll. Our war-time lifestyle of frugality and prudence means we don’t have lavish facilities, amenities, or sports teams to attract the typical 16-year-old. Frankly, we’re not after the typical 16-year-old. We’re looking for young men and women who are deadly serious about joy—their own, and that of all the peoples of the earth. We’re looking for elite students: not elite financially (our scholarship removes that barrier); not elite academically (though the whole college is as rigorous as an honors program); not elite socially (our average “legacy family” is blue-collar and home-schools); but elite in Jesus’ terms: “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43–44, ESV).

So, no, we won’t be buying your name from the ACT or the College Board. We’ll be asking the many friends of Bethlehem to send students our way who fit that description, and most importantly, we’ll be asking the King of the Universe to lead them here.

Daniel Kleven

Director of Admissions

Prayer Requests:

  • For our current students, that they would finish the semester well.
  • For our 2017 graduates as they prepare to launch into work and ministry
  • For our Fall 2017 college cohort, that God would lead those to apply whom He would have to come to Bethlehem.
  • For our incoming seminary and college students, as they find work and living arrangements and prepare for four years in Minneapolis.