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I’m Just a Brochure: The Life of a Vanderbilt Publication


Posted by Carolyn Pippen on Monday, October 7, 2013

If you are a high school student and have begun your college search in earnest, I can probably guess one thing about you: somewhere in your house is a giant stack of college brochures.  Every school you have ever considered has probably sent you more than a few shiny, colorful booklets, posters, and postcards detailing all of the academic and social offerings that set that school apart from the rest.

Many of you have probably spent hours going through these brochures, trying to imagine yourself living and studying in each of the unique communities described.  But have you ever wondered where exactly these publications come from?  If so, read on!

Undergraduate Research Brochure 2013

The idea: The concept for a new publication can begin in a variety of different places:admissions counselors, our Director or Dean of Admissions, other Vanderbilt faculty and staff, the greater higher education community, and most importantly, from you!  For example, our admissions counselors have long been receiving requests from prospective students for more information on undergraduate research opportunities at Vanderbilt.  The counselors brought these requests back to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, where several members of our leadership team got together and decided to produce a new brochure that would better inform students on just this topic.

The content: The leadership team decides what general information should be communicated in the brochure and hands it off to the members of our publications team, who are charged with creating the actual content of the piece.  We write multiple drafts for each section and dig into the archives of the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group to find relevant data points that we think will complement the general message.  In the instance of the new research brochure, we wanted to communicate to students that undergraduate research opportunities are available to students in a variety of academic areas, so we reached out to current students and found concrete examples that would support this message.

The design: The publications team comes up with a general design direction for the piece and hands it off to Vanderbilt Creative Services to work their artistic magic.  In this case, we asked for an eye-catching design that was interesting and informative and had a cool info-graphic-style feel to it.  As always, Creative Services did not disappoint!  Within a few days, all of our written and data content was returned to us in beautiful brochure form.

The polishing: Once we have received the first draft, nearly everyone involved must put their sharp proofreading skills to use.  The brochure is handed off from counselor to project specialist to associate director to director to dean and back again, double- and triple-checking to make sure that all of the information is correct and presented in the cleanest, clearest, most accurate way possible.

The printing: After the final edits have been made and Creative Services has produced a clean copy of the brochure, it is sent to Vanderbilt Printing Services where literally thousands (in this case 100,000) of copies are printed on giant machines that spit out a new shiny, colorful pages at warp speed.

The mailing: The wonderful staff of our Admissions Processing Center then produces the list of students to whom the brochure will be mailed.  In the case of the research piece, we decided to send one to every high school senior on our mailing list.  These students have all either filled out our online information request form, participated in one of our campus visit programs, or met with an admissions counselor at a college fair or high school visit.

The mailbox: Last but not least, the brochure arrives at your door!  In addition, we also post a PDF version on the admissions website for all to see.  Our prospective students now have one more piece of information that will hopefully aid them in making the ever-important decision of whether or not Vanderbilt University is the right place for them.


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