By Mollie Simon
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 3,053 four-year institutions in the United States. There are also 10,787 Starbucks locations in the U.S., or approximately a 3:1 Starbucks-to-college ratio.
Before I began the college application process, there were many things I was warned about by older students and by admissions officers on college tours. (Side note: It is only necessary to take one college tour; they are 99 percent the same, and, yes, student guides walk backward in most of them.)
I was advised not to write essays at the last minute. I was told to bubble in my name correctly on the SAT. I was informed of the tediousness of waiting for a decision, and the more-than-likely-chance of getting unfortunate news in exchange for $70-$90 applications fees.
What I was not told is that I would soon be trading in my thrifty 50-cent packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate in exchange for $3 cups of Starbucks cocoa with optional whipped cream.
When it comes to college admissions, the interview is a rather ambiguous aspect. There is no guidebook or list of rules (is it OK to let the interviewer buy the drink?), some schools offer them, some do not, sometimes they are with alumni, sometimes they are with admissions officers, and the list goes on and on.
In the wild and uncertain world of interviews, there is but one constant: More likely than not, the interview will take place at one of the 10,787 Starbucks locations in the U.S. In fact, the interview may even take place in the bookstore Starbucks of a university different from the one to which you are applying (speaking from personal experience).
Doing the math and erring on the side of caution, say we assumed that 30 percent of the 19,913 face-to-face interviews the University of Pennsylvania conducted last year were completed at Starbucks’ locations. Say each interviewee and interviewer purchased a $3 drink (a generous under-estimate if you are going for a fat-free, decaf, extra-hot, soy milk latte). That would represent $35,843 in spending at Starbucks for just one university’s interviews (remember the 3:1 Starbucks-to-college ratio), which is why I am convinced that either Starbucks and the College Board are in cahoots, or Starbucks should be helping to underwrite the costs of America’s post-secondary education system.
While I appreciate the time that alumni take to interview prospective students, I think that it is ultimately Starbucks locations – and not seniors, interviewers, or even colleges – that are coming out on top in the process.
Every interview is different, and they are not all created equal.
From an interview where the person just graduated and questions you from behind a computer while reading prompts, to an interview where you feel like the person knows you when you take the last sip of cocoa, to the kind where you are told at the end that you probably will not get in even though the interviewer thought highly of you, college interviews are something like speed-dating where your chances of getting dumped on April 1 are astronomically high.
I guess my advice is simple to everyone still scheduling college interviews: Just be yourself and enjoy the hot chocolate while it’s warm.
And my advice to the class of 2015: Instead of applying to so many colleges, consider buying stock in Starbucks for $77 a share. I hear it’s gone up this past year.
That might be a better investment.