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Information endowment

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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

  1. Post your own review of Shimer
  2. 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.


This page is part of the Shimer College Wiki, an independent documentation project. Shimer College, the Great Books college of Chicago, is not responsible for its content.



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