I remember listening to my more privileged high school friends recount their experiences traveling from college to college during their junior or senior summers.In those days the only real way to investigate universities was to go there; so they would pack into a car and take a road trip. The internet existed at that time, but it was a pretty rudimentary tool. It certainly didn’t have the capacity to adequately inform a prospective student about campus life, dining options or places to listen to cool bands. A little over a decade later we live in a very different environment. Students are able to pull up in just a few minutes enormous amounts of information about the school, its academics and the places they’re located.
In this environment attracting students has become much more competitive and schools have to spend considerable resources marketing themselves. I looked at the mission statements from two schools in fairly close proximity to Virginia Tech to see how they compared. The first was UVA, whose statement highlighted it’s commitment to academics and a set of “foundational” ideals. This short statement painted a picture of an environment where serious scholarship could take place in a place dedicated to excellence. Next I looked at Radford University’s mission statement. Radford’s statement was written in a more informal tone; besides giving some basic information about degrees, they chose to highlight the athletics at the school.
These mission statements may have highlighted some important differences in both priorities and philosophy between the schools. I think the different statements were also meant to attract different groups of potential students. While UVA may have been aimed at students whose main aim is achieving academic goals, RU may be trying to attract students who are looking for colleges based on academics, as well as sports or career programs.