Thumbs down for the AU 'Wonks'
By Evan Van Tassell
Regarding the Sept. 24 front-page article “American University, now home to the ‘American wonk’ ”: Colleges’ self-prescribed labels often end up misleading prospective students, and universities should stop trying to label their students with generalized brands.
“You can never become something you’re not,” a spokesman for a branding agency said. And yet American University seems to be trying anyway, because they’re endorsing a new “wonk” moniker that many of their students don’t agree with.
The university is forcing this label on itself. The problem is that prospective students who don’t associate with a college’s brand will immediately assume that the school isn’t right for them, while the ones who do will wrongly expect that the brand applies to all current students. The result is an incoming class that is bound for disappointment, because the school can’t live up to what the labels promise.
In reality, universities such as American use these labels to mold the future student bodies that they want, not to represent current ones. This kind of artificial label-making will only create dissatisfied students. The universities must learn that forced brands are false ones.
My advice? Let the labels create themselves.
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