The information endowment is a way of thinking about the total sum of information -- particularly stumbleable information -- out there about Shimer College. The information endowment, unlike the kind with money in it, is something that large and prominent schools don't need to think about. However, for a small and relatively unknown school like Shimer, the information endowment can be the difference between life and the other thing. Let's face it: if Shimer were as well-known as Harvard, or even IIT, Shimer could be charging St. John's-level tuition and still be turning people away.
Throughout Shimer's history, stories of how students came to Shimer are filled with happenstance. Winona Branch Sawyer recounted how a poster advertising Shimer happened to be blown down the street after her. A current Trustee recalls how a Shimer catalog given her by a friend happened to fall out of her bookcase and hit her on the head -- otherwise she would never have opened it. A 1988 valedictorian recalls how, even after learning of Shimer from a coworker, he did not consider applying until he learned of the weekend program from a radio ad.
Many of these stories seem eerily serendipitous, but their real significance is prosaic enough. It takes multiple exposures to a brand to develop a real awareness of that brand. Thus, in an environment where rich information about Shimer is relatively uncommon, only a really uncommon series of events will lead to enough exposure to close the deal. This helps to explain why children of alumni -- and friends and relatives of alumni in general -- make up a relatively high proportion of Shimer students, despite the school's making no particular effort to promote this. It's not that Shimeritas runs in the family. It's that these happy few have a level of awareness of Shimer that others can gain only by the happiest of happenstance.
Ways you can helpEdit
- Post your own review of Shimer
- If you have a public profile, such as your Google Profile, add a link or two to a specific Shimer program that is meaningful to you, such as the Oxford study abroad program, the Weekend College program, the accelerated BA/JD program, or the Early Entrance Program.