You know you have to do it at some point, but somehow it keeps slipping to the bottom of your to-do list. You’re tempted to ask your school counselor, your friend applying to the same school, or even your mom to do it for you: e-mailing the Admissions Officers at your institutions of choice.
But here’s the thing: you might thinkthat typo you discover only after pressing ‘send’ is logged in a file, adding minus points to your application (fun fact: that’s not true), but in reality, Admissions Officers aren’t so scary. In fact, a huge part of their job—and likely the reason they sought that job in the first place, and enjoy doing it—is interacting with prospective students and helping them navigate the process.
So: you’ve finally psyched yourself up to do the thing. What next?
Use A Professional E-Mail Address
At this point, this is old news—or it should be. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of email@example.com that pop into an Admissions Officer’s inbox. It’s reflective of a lack of maturity, in general, and more specifically a lack of care, when you don’t bother to go through the (5-minute-long, free) process of getting an email account with a more professional handle. Your email should be something like firstname.lastname@example.org, to show that you’re approaching this correspondence with the mindset of the adult college student you’re aiming to be.
There may not be a permanent record logging your typos, but there are consequences for being disrespectful, flippant, or otherwise unprofessional in your communications with Admissions Officers. Whether it’s a formal documentation process or just a negative memory associated with your name, don’t risk it—don’t be rude, don’t be demanding, don’t use text speak, don’t use incomplete sentences, and remember that you’re speaking to a human, not an automated service. If you’re unsure about letter-writing format, look at templates online. You don’t have to craft the perfect formalized “Dear Sir or Madame” email if you’re not comfortable doing so, but do remember: you’re an adult speaking to another adult. Craft your email accordingly.
Nothing grates on an Admissions Officer’s nerves more than emails asking things that are made clear on the college website or in easily accessible literature that an interested student should already have. Admissions Officers are busy folks, with a ton of responsibilities—respect them enough to be informed, do your own digging, and reach out to them with thoughtful, considered, and researched questions. They want to help you, but at the postsecondary level, they’re also expecting you to be able to help yourself, where you can.
Remember: They’re People, Too
Maybe you’re impatient. Maybe you’re anxious. Maybe you waited until the last minute. Regardless of why you’re desperate for a response, remember that Admissions Officers deal with thousands of students, and that’s only part of their jobs. They’re doing their best to efficiently and effectively answer your questions—don’t pester them with follow-ups unless you have a genuine reason to (changes in circumstances, etc.). Spamming their inbox will not make them respond more quickly. And always remember: if you’re desperate for immediate information, try giving the front office a call—they can often give you some general information.
We hope these tips will help you interact with Admissions Officers in a way that gets you the information you need while also making sure they have nothing but good things to say about you when it comes time to read your application!