This Middlebury student-created “Middkid Rap”:
This video, a 17-minute musical treatise from Yale:
I don’t pretend to be a higher ed admissions guru but as a social media guy, I take an interest in how schools are trying to reach applicants. By many accounts, schools like Yale, and yes Middlebury, don’t really need more applicants. Still videos like the one above show that schools have an opportunity to really blow past the traditional admissions brochures in reaching prospective students. Furthermore, it shows that the most valuable admissions tools is the energy and initiative of the current students.
But Middlebury has “no plans to use [the Middkid rap song] in any official way in our recruiting efforts,” says Dean of Admissions Bob Clagett. That’s because it’s not admissions-approved. The lyrics of the rap have lines like:
I see my boys in the back, DJ spinnin the track,
hes with some bitches talkin smack that the tavern was whack
It’s the mill yo, and that’s what I told ya
’cause here we all G’s throwin free granola
I’m checkin out the honeys and I spy me a winner
she got Carhart overalls, stained with dinner
I weave through the crowd man I wish I were drunker
but Pub Safe rolls in, so I hit up the bunker …
Again, not standard admissions material. But have you listened to a rap song lately? The Middlebury version is very tame. They bleep out the explicit swear words. And for those who don’t know, the Middkid Rap is played on repeat at Middlebury. It has been widely adopted by students as a sort of Middlebury “anthem.” That is the sort of legitimacy that both accurately represents Middlebury (while poking fun at ourselves) but also speaks directly to prospective students. I’ve said it before but prospective students have B.S. meters like none other.
And the Yale video, while cute, smells of glossy admissions. The Middkid Rap is authentic and it will attract students because it hits on all the Middlebury talking points: environment, Quidditch, sports, and academics. The forthcoming music video of the Middkid rap is rumored to be full of provocative scenes (filmed at Middlebury) including huge dorm parties with depictions of copious drinking and semi-naked bodies. But again, it’s a rap song. Middlebury’s prospective students should be smart and adept at finding counter-examples — they know that Middlebury is not all raging parties and sexist remarks. So I’ll say it:
It’s time to embrace the Middkid Rap as the best kind of admissions material directed at prospective students.
The flip side is that prospective parents won’t buy this one bit. And they’re the ones (usually) paying for school, ya? So, it’s a tricky line to walk and one that will become harder with the music video release. Still, it’s worth it, and my guess is that the controversy over the video will propel it to Yale Musical status.
UPDATE: Now with the Midd Kid music video.