{wbamp-meta name="image" url="images/1200amp/college1_1.jpg" height="750" width="1300"}As a teacher, I always spend the $250 that the government allows me to claim. Some teachers might spend it on learning materials for the classroom or for themselves. Others buy goodies for the kids. Some like to decorate the rooms. Because my district didn't find a piece of technology useful when I requested it, I bought it myself recently ($300). In comparison to my friends in other fields, I tend to spend money in areas they can get free, like college credit, attending conferences, or acquiring supplies for work.

When our guidance department suggested we teachers participate in "College Wednesday," I saw it as another unfortunate opportunity for me to spend money on the classroom. The idea is that teachers are supposed to get the students excited about college by wearing college shirts and talking about attending. However, my UW-Milwaukee shirt was bought about 10 years ago, and I never even bought a UW-Eau Claire shirt, so I kind of had nothing to wear. I did have an idea, though.

UW-WaukeshaLike the guy who sent out 100 letters of compliment in order to see how much free stuff he could get, I decided to send out emails in order to see how many free t-shirts to wear I can get. This is not a gimmick: I will wear the shirts in the order I receive them and I will discuss the particular college with my students. However, I will NOT be buying ANY shirts. If I don't receive any shirts, then my students will not hear about any colleges on College Wednesday. I see it as a win-win situation: The colleges get someone the students respect talking their college up a bit, and I get the shirts to wear without spending more of my own money to do it.


After some of the first "no" responses, I got a little miffed. Think about it: if I convince ONE student to attend a college, they'll make between $20,000 to $100,000 off of that one decision, and some of the colleges just want to direct me to their bookstore. I can handle the ones who just send me a pennant and some literature. I'm setting up a display case at school documenting my experiment, and they will all be represented.  

I will keep a chart of who received emails from me and who sent me shirts, etc. Check that out below. The original letter is posted after the chart. 

College/Process Response Result

 UW-Eau Claire

email admissions

 Surprisingly, I received a personalized email saying that they're excited that I'm promoting college with my students. The letter came in the envelope with NO SHIRTS.   NO SHIRT. I'm sad that the college that took my money for two years (and that I'm still paying for) does not want me to have a t-shirt in order to promote them. 

 UW-Green Bay

email admissions

 No email or formal response. Just the package.   4th to respond. T-shirt and some literature. I had some friends at UW-GB, so I spent a few weekends there, though I don't know a whole lot about what they offer academically.  

 UW-La Crosse

email admissions

 nothing, kind of what I've seen of the town, since I've never been there for Oktoberfest, which everyone seems to promote as the pinnacle of La Crosse culture  


 email admissions



Thank you for contacting the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Unfortunately, we do not offer t-shirts and other Madison memorabilia through our office. However, the University Book Store has a wide variety of Madison apparel if you would be interested in that.  If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to contact us again.

On Wisconsin!  TK"


TK wants me to purchase shirts? Maybe he/she forgot to read the email I sent because I am not wearing shirts unless I get them for FREE. Do you think if I could pass a football they might have some free shirts for me? Not totally fair: same goes for all D1 colleges that deny me.


online form - broken

not surprising that the online form was broken for UW-Milwaukee, my college home for over four years, since a lot of students were broke or on drugs when I went there.   I had a shirt of my own and will purchase another one when the basketball team makes it into the national tournament again


email admissions

 No personal response that I received, though they did send a package.  2nd to send items. One t-shirt and pamphlets. I will tell my students about how I wanted to attend UW-Oshkosh when I was a senior because that campus had the highest percentage of females of any UW school back then. Those stats don't matter to me today, but it's a fun story.


 online form

 A nice hand-written card in the box of goodies.   5th. Two t-shirts, lunchbox, 20 pens, and a pennant. I wasn't even sure UW-Parkside was still operating, so this is a good sign they are. They seem to be focusing on the arts, and I am an arts-type club advisor, so it fits, and they said like over 90% of their arts students get jobs in the field, which seems pretty good to me. 


email admissions

 Honestly, do the admissions officers at Platteville have anything else going on? Not even an email response? It's Platteville, Wisconsin!  I'm thinking UW-Platteville may not even have shirts with the college name on it. Not sure.

 UW-River Falls

email admissions

No response, but it might be my fault, as UW-River Falls could be a GED program only.  

 UW-Stevens Point

 email admissions

 I think the team is the Pointers, but the response points to their admissions team dropping the ball. They are probably pointing fingers at one another now.  


 email admissions

 Just the envelope with the items sent  6th. Two t-shirts. No XL, which is too bad, since an XL-wearing co-worker attended Stout for a year and wanted to wear the shirt. Some literature in a folder. 


 email admissions

 No email that made it to my inbox, but a package with a t-shirt came after a couple of weeks. 3rd. Free t-shirt and literature, which I'll have to read. I never considered Superior myself because I imagined it was too cold up there. Looked it up , and the average low is below freezing for half the year. I'm sure their dorms have heaters.  


 email admissions

 took them a while longer than some of the UW schools, but they got me one  shirt 11th


 email admissions

 Email response (1st), saying they're sending a package with two t-shirts.  The admissions person seemed excited about what we're trying to do and she seems to recognize the investment potential. 

 1st. Two t-shirts, pens, mouse pad, chip clip, and pamphlets. UW-Waukesha is a great option for many of my students, so I'll talk it up when I wear the shirt. 
 College  Response Result

 Harvard University

 online form

 "Thank you for your interest in Harvard College! 

Requests for materials may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please note:
-A mailing address is required. 

-Our office does not stock items such as clothing, writing implements, or other paraphernalia, though we will send what items we have. 

-During our busiest season (October - May), our office cannot guarantee shipment of any requests by a certain date. It can often take up to 4-6 weeks to fulfill a request at that time. 

All the best,
Harvard College Admissions"


For the top-ranked university in our country, you'd think they might read the contact emails they receive! I didn't say I wanted "items" they happen to have in stock. I just asked for a shirt. No posters or stat sheets about how much their graduates make. That's what they send guidance counselors. 

 Princeton University

 email admissions

 Dear Brian,

Thank you for your email.

At this time we’d be happy to send you a Princeton University poster and pennant for your classroom.

Our next mailing will go out later this month or early October.

Thank you,


 I hate to give Princeton too much credit for a pennant, except for it reminded me of what it might have been like for Holden Caulfield to see all the phonies at his school waving their pennants around at the football game.

 Yale University

 email admissions

 No personal response.  NO SHIRT. I got an envelope that smelled funny (the smell of money, perhaps?) and contained a miniature pennant, six writing utensils, and some handouts for students. 

 Columbia University

 email admissions

 No personal response, but they did send a little care package. Another Ivy League college not following the basic rules.   NO SHIRT. I did get a pennant and some literature, which is better than Harvard's form letter with nothing. 

 University of Chicago

 no way to contact online

Some colleges have decided to contact students instead of allowing students to contact them. Only using social media is a risk. I can see online forms instead of posting email addresses, but if I'm an interested student, NOT having a direct online contact is a turn-off.


 I spent a long time on the site in order to not even send a message.

 College  Response  Result

Alverno College


 This is the only college I sent a link to this article to. I thought it would inspire conformity. Their response was a form letter and the items listed to the right.   NO SHIRT. Several pennants that could be stiched together to form a shirt. Also, several handouts. 

 Beloit College


   Nothing, But have you ever been to Beloit? 

 Cardinal Stritch University


   Cardinal Stritch ignored my email. My father spend many years and dollars there for an advanced degree, but I did not receive any        materials to help future students decide to go h. 

 Carroll University


 Link I provide is old and dead, probably because of the name change from Carroll College. 

"Thanks Brian for your email and for the opportunity to have a Carroll t-shirt worn in your class.  We will send you a t-shirt ASAP. 

 Thanks Again,


 shirt 8th. Hey, who cares if they want to go by Carroll University instead of Carroll College. It does not sound as natural, but people must like universities better.

 Carthage College


Maybe Carthage College changed its name to Carthage University and my email bounced.   

 Concordia University - WI

 online form

 Email response saying they'd send a shirt  shirt 7th

 Edgewood College

 online form

   shirt 9th

 Lakeland College

 email admissions

 This one took me a long time to email Waste of time

 Lawrence University

 online form

 A nice personalized letter sent along with recruiting items  shirt 10th

 Marian University

 email admissions


 Marquette University

 email admissions

 I have to admit, I was surprised that Marquette gave me a decent shirt instead of telling me to head on over to their bookstore.   12th shirt While I don't necessarily believe that a Marquette education would have been any better academically for me, I do know that the name opens some doors, and I'll tell my students that

 Milwaukee Inst. Art

 email admissions

   Two artsy t-shirts
 Milwaukee Sch of Engineering    
 Mount Mary College  I'll give Mount Mary an in-between rating. They DID give a t-shirt, but one of my colleagues got to them first (stealing my idea!), so I won't use the letter on them. So much for the female-only colleges.  
 Northland College  Never sent  
 Ripon College  Never sent  
 Silver Lake College  Never sent  
 St. Norbert College  Never sent  
 Viterbo University  Never sent  
 Wisconsin Lutheran College    At the time, I lived a few blocks from WLC. I would rather the college clean up their apartments than send me a free shirt. Or have some college students volunteer to help some of the older neighbors with yard work. 


If you happen to be a representative of a college and you run across this website, feel free to send me a t-shirt for College Wednesday and you will be added to the list. Here's my original letter:


To Whom it May Concern,


I am an English teacher at Menomonee Falls High School near Milwaukee, WI. Our school is working on a program wherein we promote attending college. Teachers are to wear college shirts on Wednesdays in order to showcase a particular college and attending college in general.


While I attended UW-Milwaukee and UW-Eau Claire myself, I am contacting several colleges with the hopes that I will be given the opportunity to discuss many college options during the course of the semester.


I am leaving the list of colleges that I discuss in your hands. I will not be purchasing any shirts this year. However, I will wear all shirts I receive and I will discuss those colleges with the students.


Please consider making an investment into your recruiting efforts. I am a size XL or L, and I’d be willing to distribute any extra shirts to other staff at the school. You might also want to include handouts or freebies for the students, and information for me to read before I introduce your school to the students.


I have always discussed my own experiences in college with my students, and I want them to make the right choices for themselves Being exposed to several local and national options would be useful to that end. Our school has an average ACT of around a 23, and we are improving, partially because students are getting more excited about the importance of higher education. Please consider providing me with the opportunity to help these students make important decisions by allowing me to present information about what you have to offer.

Thank you,


Brian Jaeger

English Teacher

Menomonee Falls High School

W142 N8101 Merrimac Dr.

Menomonee Falls, WI 53051


[UPDATE 2018]

I added one photo of me wearing a free college shirt above. I still have most of them, but some are not wearable except for when I work on my cars. I have since moved away from Wisconsin (currently in Jacksonville), but I hope to use this idea of getting free stuff in some other way in the near future. I really did wear all of the shirts on College Fridays for as long as I was employed in Menomonee Falls. It was probably a sound investment for those institutions, and I look forward to figuring out my next idea that gets me free stuff while helping someone else in the process.