What to do When Contacting Colleges

on March 28, 2017

In that anxious period of time leading up to the release of college acceptance letters, students often wonder if they should be contacting the colleges they've applied to. Colleges have differing opinions on the matter, but most err on the side of less is more. Below are some specifics for what to do and what not to do when reaching out to college admissions officers.


Things to do:


Be professional. Correspond from an email address that is mature and professional. Don't use an email address you made in the sixth grade. Likewise, if you are contacting a college via social media, review your accounts and be sure that they present you in only the most professional light. If you leave a message on the phone, speak clearly and remember to leave your information so that they can get back to you. Finally, if a college does respond, send follow-up replies quickly to show your attentiveness and appreciation.


Update them on relevant changes. The emphasis on relevant is key here: Most colleges have little interest in hearing about small or irrelevant changes in your life. If you’ve earned a prestigious award, taken on a new leadership role or received higher test scores or grades by more than just a few points, you can pass this information along in a formal update letter.


Request a meeting if you're making a campus visit. If meetings with college admissions advisors are offered possible while you're visiting a campus, there’s no harm in taking them up on the opportunity. You can learn more about the college and ask personal, specific questions. They'll appreciate your demonstrated interest.


Do not:


Ask questions that are answered online. If you do request a meeting, send an email or phone your college admissions officer, don't pepper an admissions officer with questions you could have answered with a bit of research. This not only wastes their time, it suggests that you didn’t take the initiative to seek out these answers yourself.

Contact them without a purpose, or too frequently. Because the general mantra on contacting colleges is less is more, the last thing you want to do is make a bad impression on a college’s admissions officers. Reaching out over and over won't help your chances. Instead, most officers find this behaving annoying and an indication of a lack of self-awareness. If you have a question that needs to be answered ASAP, send a polite, succinct email.


Ask about your application. Above all else, don't email an admissions officer asking about the status of your submitted materials. If your application is missing a component, they'll contact you. Otherwise, a request for an early answer on your application will seem impatient and aggressive. They'll most likely tell you to wait, like everyone else or won't respond at all. 

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