The Newest Approach to Admissions: Reality TV

Is your college looking to recruit more international students? The U.S. Consulate in Mumbai wants to help. According to its Web site, the consulate seeks three American colleges to participate in a TV show “promoting U.S. undergraduate educational opportunities for Indian students.” The program is expected to reach more than 25 million viewers. The lucky colleges will get to play host to two visiting students and show off their campuses, their courses, and their landscaping to millions of prospective freshmen.

On the scale of wacky recruitment strategies, it’s not the craziest we’ve seen. But it got us thinking: What other kinds of reality shows have gone unexplored by colleges and universities? Surely, in the wide world of faculty, administration, and students, there’s enough for a new cable channel. The IRL College Network? True Campus? Television U.? The lineup could look something like this:

The Adjunct: Sixteen adjuncts compete for a tenure-track job at a top university. If you thought Donald Trump was mean, meet Helen Dragas.

So You Think You Can Drink: Who will be America’s favorite stomach pumper?

Freshman Moms: The series follows five freshmen at a state college and the hours their parents spend tying up administrators’ phone lines, e-mailing professors about their kids’ grades, and “just stopping by to see how you’re doing, sweetie!”

America’s Next Top President: Gordon Gee shepherds a group of aspiring deans and vice presidents as they learn public relations, fund raising, and how to “smize” in a bow tie.

Real Housewives of the Board: Shocking feuds among trustees’ spouses. Hope you have a good dry cleaner for all those Bordeaux stains, ladies and gents.

16 and Admitted: Young, extra-smart teenagers navigate classes, campus social lives, and financial aid while their peers are still learning algebra.

Keeping Up With the Sullivans: What better way to keep track of UVa’s penchant for self-analysis?

Dancing With the Profs: Ten down-on-their-luck professors try for new careers in ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, tweed proves to be a poor choice for flamenco wear.

Boarders: Dorm life as you’ve never seen it before.

We think we’ve got some winners here, but feel free to submit additional ideas below. Spirit TV is about to get greenlit.

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