#College Essays and Applications

At the other end of your application is an admissions officeranother human being tasked with getting to know you in order to make a decision. When interacting with admissions officers either in person or virtually, being professional, polite, and friendly can help build rapport with your assigned representative and showcase your maturity and ability to communicate with adults. This clarity and maturity in your communications can help admissions officers get a clear sense as to who you are and may reflect well on your application. Check out our tips below for how to build a good relationship with your admissions officer and show off your maturity. 

Ask good questions

Admissions officers love helping students find the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to apply or attend their institutions. Some institutions track a student’s interest in the institution and use it as a factor in the admissions process in a process called demonstrated interest. Asking admissions officers questions can be a great way to show your interest in the college. Make sure that the questions you’re asking, however, are personally specific to what information you need to make the best decision for yourself! 

For example, instead of asking “What makes your school unique?” ask something more tailored about an academic program or club that you want to learn more about. Something like “How do students studying Fine Art integrate into the campus as a whole?” shows that you’re interested in the Fine Art major, that you know the major is offered in a separate school, and that you want to be a part of the larger community. 

As you research colleges to apply to or attend, asking good questions that are specific to you and your interests will not only impress your admission counselor, but also get you the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. 

Write appropriate emails

Writing an email to your admissions officer with appropriate greetings and contents will cultivate goodwill with your admissions officer and communicate your professionalism. When writing to your representative, always start with “Mr.” or “Ms.” to be more formal. They may offer a different salutation or pronoun on their profile on the school’s admissions page, so be sure to check that before writing them. 

Afterward, open with a greeting and something personal if you have met them previously or happened to have visited campus. If you have not yet met them, briefly introduce yourself and include your full name, high school, and hometown. Including this information will confirm with your area’s representative that they are the right person to talk to.

When you get to the heart of your email, make sure there is a clear “ask” or a call to action. If you have a request, like asking for additional information on a subject or confirming whether they will attend a high school visit, make sure it is clearly listed in your email. When asking multiple questions, consider listing them out so it’s easier for the admissions officer to read and respond to. 

Close your email with a brief thank you and, most importantly, list your full name, your date of birth, and your high school so the officer knows whose application to tie the information to. If the school issues application IDs, include that to ensure your communication is recorded in your file if the school tracks demonstrated interest.  

Know when (and how to) follow up

Following up with admissions officers before and after meeting them or engaging with their campuses can help you make the most out of your visit or completed interaction.

Before you visit a campus, reach out to your admissions officer to introduce yourself via email and see if they will be available to meet face-to-face. Meeting them while on campus will help them put a face to a name and potentially something to remember when they read your application. Be sure to include vital information like your name and high school in your first email to them. Your email can also include questions about how to maximize your time on campus. Ask your admission officer where to find information on classes to sit in on, professors that they can get in touch with, or what their favorite part of campus is. (Nearly every admissions officer has a favorite coffee spot on their campus!) 

Once you get home, following up with your admissions officer about your visit is a great way to keep the conversation going, especially if you met them on campus. Now that you’ve had time to think about your visit, this follow-up email is an excellent opportunity to ask those good questions you’ve developed from your visit to get you the information you need to apply or attend. If you don’t have any additional questions, send a nice follow-up email thanking them for their time, saying how much you enjoyed visiting, and reiterating your interest in their college. If the admissions officer who gave your information session is not the one responsible for your area, sending the presenter a nice follow-up email is a good gesture, as well.

There are ways to follow up appropriately after you’ve applied, as well. Once you submit your application, colleges will send you a link to a personalized applicant portal where you can track your application’s status, find quick contact information, and see what documents the admissions office has received. Admissions offices process tens of thousands of documents like recommendation letters and standardized test score reports every admission cycle, so yours may take some time to show up on the portal. Before you reach out to your admissions officer, review the school’s language about document processing times. If you are still within the processing window (usually around two weeks), then hold off on reaching out to your admissions officer to check on your application.

If you’re past the two week window, write a polite email noting when you sent in the document, what kind of document it was, and relevant identification information like your full name, date of birth, high school, and any application ID numbers the school assigned you. The admissions officer will appreciate you waiting until after the processing window to reach out and can help locate your missing documents. 

Following these steps above can help you create good working relationships with your admissions officer and not only showcase your professionalism and maturity, but also help admissions officers help you get the answers you need to make an informed decision as to whether to apply to or attend their college.