The college admissions process is all about communication—and your application is the primary way you’ll communicate your achievements and talents to the college admissions office. Every essay, recommendation, and form helps to convey the unique value your presence would add to the campus community.
However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to written communication methods. In addition to your formal application, personal conversations are welcomed and expected by college admissions offices.
The two best ways to informally connect with the schools you’ve applied to are:
- Talking to a college admissions officer at a college fair or at your school, if they visit
- Calling or emailing the college admissions office directly
Speaking with an Admissions Counselor in Person
The prospect of speaking directly to a college admissions officer can leave some students feeling a great deal of anxiety. If you’re stressed by the idea of reaching out for a conversation, you should know that admissions officers are familiar with student worries and know how to help young applicants feel more at ease.
I still remember attending a college fair and working up the courage to speak with representatives from the schools I most wanted to attend. What I know now is that every college admissions officer I encountered was genuinely excited to meet me and every other student who approached them.
Remember that college admissions officers have chosen to represent their institution because they believe in its mission and want to share their passion with emerging graduates through candid conversation, authentic engagement, and informative dialogue. After one or two conversations with admissions officers, you’ll no longer find them intimidating—because they’re not! They’re there to help, so let them help you.
Whether you’ve already identified your top schools or you’re still testing the waters to find your perfect fit, you should plan to start a conversation or two with admissions officers at the next college fair you attend.
Here are three simple ways to break the ice and get connected:
1. Prepare and practice
Research the attending schools in advance. Read through their website and familiarize yourself with their curriculum and culture. Then jot down any questions you think of during your virtual exploration. No question is too silly or simple. Practice asking your questions with a friend, so you’ll feel more at ease when you’re standing in front of the admissions officer.
2. Begin with the basics
On the day of the fair, walk confidently up to the school’s booth and engage the representative. Say hello, tell them your name, and thank them for being there. College admissions officers are people, too, and they’re always thrilled to connect with kind and friendly students! After all, colleges want to attract students who are not only academically competent but also socially competent, so bring your full self to the experience!
3. Listen and learn
Now that you’ve begun a conversation with a school’s representative, you’ll want to make the most of your time and ask them your questions. Perhaps you’ll start by saying, “Could you tell me a bit more about. . .”—then complete your question, and courteously let the advisor know, “I’m going to take a few notes, so I don’t forget anything you tell me!” Listen carefully, ask follow-up questions, and be sure to thank the representative when the discussion draws to a close.
Don’t be surprised if the admissions officer asks for your contact information and follows up with you later!
Contacting Admissions Officers by Phone and Email
If you have questions about a college but won’t have a chance to chat with an admissions officer directly, don’t let nerves keep you from contacting the admissions office by phone or email. Find the correct contact information on the school’s website, then confidently reach out.
You may find that the college has location-specific contact information, with counselors assigned to different parts of the country. In that case, simply seek out your regional representative on the school’s website and get in touch by phone or email. This outreach may benefit you in one unexpected way: connecting you to the individual responsible for reading your application! Some schools assign regional admissions officers to review their area’s applicants, which gives you the chance to make a positive impression.
Personal interactions can have a tremendous impact on your admission chances, even if—no, especially if your GPA isn’t stellar. A positive personal impression can help set you apart, which is particularly important in college admissions if your GPA is lower.
You should also know that some colleges track “demonstrated interest,” making a note of every touchpoint with every student. During the decision process, those interactions will be reviewed alongside your academic submissions. If you’ve left a bad impression with anyone at the school at any time, you could find yourself out of the running—even despite an impressive application.
Speak and write politely, ask well-thought-out questions, and respect their time, and you’ll never go wrong by talking to a college admissions counselor.
Talking to a College Admissions Officer is a Mutual Opportunity
When embarking on your college admissions journey, remember that colleges are as excited to learn about you as you are to learn about them! Admissions officers welcome questions and look forward to the opportunity to meet prospective students at fairs and high school visits.
If you ever find yourself getting nervous, keep this advice in mind: all you need is a bit of preparation, a dose of courage, and the willingness to put yourself out there. You’ll be enjoying successful interactions with college admissions officers in no time!
Try an expert admissions consultant through Signet Education to get into the college of your dreams.