Breaking Down How to Contact Admissions Officers - Tips for Emailing, Calling, and Meeting In-person
Out of all the parts of the application process that usually cause a little bit of stress, communicating with admissions counselors doesn’t have to be one of them. Whether you’ve already established communication with an admissions counselor or you’re about to visit the college for the first time, here are some tips to keep in mind and help guide you as you work with admissions counselors and college representatives.
Background: what does an Admissions Counselor or College Representative do?
As with most things, every college is a little different with how admissions counselors work. Admissions counselors represent their college, read applications, and help with admissions decisions. For the most part, at this time of year, an admissions counselor will spend a lot of their time traveling and representing their college at various high school visits and fairs. Even while traveling, they may coordinate group tours on campus, run the student ambassador program, or help with creating some basic marketing materials. That being said, they may not be able to respond to you within 24 hours, or even 48 hours. Which brings us to our first tip:
Tip #1: Approach with patience and professionalism.
Throughout the fall, the majority of admissions counselors are in and out of the office. Between multiple high school visits a day, driving, and representing at college fairs, many admissions counselors might not be able to take a call as it comes in. If you leave a message, keep in mind that you probably won’t hear back right away. This doesn’t mean you should send 5 follow up emails asking for a phone call within the day, even if you’re feeling stressed about getting the answer sooner. Be professional and trust the process.
Extra note: The Princeton Review advises students to take this opportunity to create an email address with your name or initials in it.
Tip #2: Be brief and have a clear purpose.
Believe it or not, it’s pretty obvious when a student is just trying to get their name known. Only reach out if you have a genuine inquiry or purpose. “Focus on your questions, not on yourself. This is not the time to tell them how great you are.” according to the Princeton Review.
If you can’t find the answer to your question on the website, feel free to reach out via email. As you’re researching the college, keep a running list of your questions or thoughts that come up, so you can send everything in one message or ask all of your questions in one call. This saves you time, too!
Here are a few sample questions you could ask:
What is the student retention rate? (What’s the percentage of students who return each year, graduate after 4 years, etc)
How many students double major? Is double majoring a simple process?
When do students need to declare a major?
Tip #3: Be polite and kind.
You want to be remembered for being kind, not impatient. You’re stressed, your parents are stressed, and all you want is answers. Getting frustrated with a lost document or needing to send something sent in is not going to help you get closer to where you need to be. Be kind, be patient, and remember that your admissions counselor is only human.
Tip #4: Double check the website first.
Demonstrate that you took the initiative to check the website first. This doesn’t mean you have to scour the school’s every single page in search of the answer. It means you should at least take a few minutes to read through the admissions page and write any questions that come up based on the information you find.
Tip #5: Build your relationship with admissions BEFORE applications are submitted.
You want to reach out to admissions leading up to the application submission, not afterward. Your chance to demonstrate interest is beforehand.
Tip #6: Try for In-Person contact if possible.
Some colleges offer optional interviews as a part of their admissions process. Find out if that’s something you can be a part of. If you know you’re visiting a college, find out if there’s a way to set up an appointment to speak with an admissions counselor. You can usually call the main Admissions office, or you might be able to sign up online.
Tip #7: Only reach out after your submission if you’ve had a major change.
Pretty much the only time you should reconnect with an admissions counselor after you’ve submitted your application is if you have something to add to your application. Did you receive an academic award? Did you get promoted at your part-time job? If you have something substantial or an important achievement to add to your profile, let admissions know.
Tip #8: Remember, this isn’t high school. Parents should not be calling or emailing for you.
Even though you are not yet a college student, you’ll be treated as an adult in the college admissions process. Admissions counselors are not permitted to share application information with parents. Plus, taking responsibility to communicate with Admissions on your own and advocate for yourself demonstrates a level of maturity that admissions departments want to see in the class they bring in.