The parents of a student just called me. Their son was accepted to most of the colleges he applied to, even one of his reach schools. The problem? He was wait listed at a college they thought would be an easy acceptance and now it’s THE place he wants to go.
I was asked to read his letter of continued interest. (A letter of continued interest tells the school you still want to attend and why.) The letter was addressed “Dear Admissions Committee.”
I asked them to address the letter to their local admissions counselor. They didn’t know who that was.
So I asked if the student had interviewed when he visited.
“The school said the interview was only informational,” said his dad. “So we just took the tour and went home.”
By never contacting his admissions representative, the student missed a big opportunity.
Imagine if, in his letter, the student could have mentioned how he had enjoyed his interview or reminded the rep about something interesting they’d talked about. Instead, he hadn’t made a connection at all.
Your local college admissions counselor is the person who will read your application and recommend whether or not to accept you. This is the person who will fight for you (or not fight for you) when the admissions committee discusses your future.
Developing a relationship with your local college admissions representative is one of the easiest things you can do when you’re applying to college.
HERE ARE THREE WAYS TO GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL COLLEGE REP:
1. Attend College Fairs. If a college fair is held in your area or at your school, make plans to go.
Tips for making a good impression at a college fair:
- Dress nicely.
- Arrive early to avoid long lines.
- Be mature. Go up to the admissions counselor and introduce yourself. Make eye contact and be the first to offer a handshake. Let him or her know that you’re interested in their school.
- Be prepared with a few questions. (Do they offer the courses you’re interested in, what majors are most popular at their school, student life, athletics, etc.)
- Ask for the representative’s business card or contact information. Go home and write a brief thank you note. You will be noticed and remembered.
2. Call or Email Your Local Rep. If you have specific questions during your application process, he or she will be glad to answer. Even if you don’t have questions, send your rep a short email saying hello and that you’re excited about the idea of attending. College reps don’t bite – they’re there to help you through all the stages of your application. Talk to them.
Tip: You can find the name of your local admissions representative on the school’s website or by calling or emailing the admissions office.
3. Schedule an On-Campus Interview. There are several different kinds of on-campus interviews:
- Evaluative: These interviews aren’t required, but the thoughts and impressions of the person who interviews you will be included as part of the admissions process.
- Non-evaluative/informational: These interviews aren’t considered in the decision-making process. They provide the school an opportunity to get to know you and answer your questions. (Occasionally, these interviews are conducted by students.)
Tip: If your local rep is busy or interviewing another student, you’ll meet with a different admissions counselor for your interview. Don’t worry — your interviewer will share his or her notes so that your local rep has all the information.
THE BENEFITS OF GETTING TO KNOW YOUR COLLEGE REP:
1. You Demonstrate Interest. Sacred Heart University is a perfect example of how demonstrating interest is valuable. Christina Hamilton, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, says that while Sacred Heart doesn’t offer evaluative interviews, they strongly encourage students to interview. She says, “We really value the demonstrated interest at Sacred Heart. We’re always encouraging students to be in touch with our staff and admission counselors. We are out in our area doing interviews or on campus hoping to be able to meet with them. The student-counselor relationship is something we definitely like to emphasize. “
2. You Put a Face to Your College Application (hopefully a smiling one). When you can meet someone face-to-face, or send an email or a thank you note, you add a dimension to your application that isn’t already there.
3. You Give your College Rep Another Reason to Advocate for You. It takes maturity and initiative to say hello at a college fair, to pick up the phone, or to ask intelligent questions. Your rep will appreciate that when it comes time to advocate for you at the admissions table.
4. You Create a Relationship. Valuable from start to end.
So, if you’re applying to college, say hello to your college rep. Develop a relationship (don’t stalk), schedule an interview if you can, and send a thank you note. Even if you do ONE of these things you will give yourself an advantage. And if you are wait listed, you will have that relationship to draw on.
It’s good information to know.
Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.