Why You Should Talk to Your Admissions Officers
Reaching out to admissions officers can feel a little intimidating. These are the people that hold the keys to your future. What if you say the wrong thing and they make a note in your file and you end up not getting in?
In the words of admissions officers, themselves, here are 12 of the top reasons it’s worth overcoming the fear:
1. They can give you insights on how to begin the application process and point out all of the specific requirements.
“I had a long conversation with a student after she initiated an email conversation with, “I don’t know how or where to begin the application process.” We found a mutual time for us to talk over the phone and we literally walked through the application platform, our requirements, and what some other requirements might be for other colleges. I think I appreciate when students share that vulnerability with me and it allows me to meet them where they are.”
“It’s always a process of discovery and I love it when students start off with “I want to apply to your school for X reason, but I have a question about Y” or “Your X program looks great, but I need help with Y part of the application” — it gives me an idea of where they’re coming from and where I can assist.”
“Tell me where you are in the process, and I’ll meet you there and get you through! I’ve always believed my role is to educate!”
2. They are experts who are interested in hearing your story, and they even make it easy for you to reach out.
“If they’re nervous about the formality of an email or phone call, I’m on Instagram to meet students where they are. Ask me a question, my DMs are open.
Students, start by telling us your story “I’m the first one in my family/siblings to go to college” “I’ve already toured campus” “I don’t know much about the university but what I’ve seen online/heard from a friend/what my counselor told me has peaked my interest” This tells us where you are in the process and what information to start with.”
“As a regional rep I’m here to advise you and cheer you on throughout the process to help you get the outcome that you’re hoping for. The only difference from your counselor is I’m an expert on one school. I carry experience from previous institutions that I’ve attended and worked for, pick my brain!”
“Also, we know a lottttttt about colleges. Lol. I know it’s frowned upon in the field, but I wish students would talk to me about their “list”. I can’t speak for all admissions counselors, but I’m one that isn’t trying to force anyone that isn’t a fit to my university. If you tell me you want to study nursing in a big city, obviously my school isn’t for you . I’ve had some great conversations with students about school choices (and of course some were an opportunity to big up my school ), but talking it out can help.”
“Admissions counselors, counsel. They can talk with the student about what they are experiencing and we hire counselors passionate about college-going. Often they share their own first-gen experience or excitement about a major or simple how to navigate the system.”
3. At smaller schools, your admissions counselor might also be your contACT for financial aid (talk about someone you need to know!).
“At some institutions (like mine), their regional admissions counselor will also be their first financial aid contact. When financial aid letters start rolling in, many of us schedule a time to walk through these important matters with students so they understand their financial aid package. If I know that your family recently had a job loss, for example, I can help start conversations about how to re-evaluate financial aid, etc.”
4. They can tell you all about the resources their campus has to offer.
“It’s a lot easier for me to connect them with on-campus resources (diversity initiatives/services, Disability Services, religious life, particular clubs or organizations, career offices) that are relevant to their needs and interests if I’ve had the chance to talk with them.
5. Connecting with prospective students is LITERALLY their job.
“It’s literally our job to make connections with them! (Lots of schools have ways to schedule calls or video chats with students directly on their website, and if you don’t see a direct scheduler, you can look for an email/text number.)
6. Got difficult things from your background that you need to discuss but that you don’t want them to put in your file? Here’s a secret: they won’t!
“If they have anything in their background that they don’t want to put in an application (family difficulties, mental health struggles) it’s sometimes easier to talk about that via text or a phone call with their admissions rep so that we have a better idea of what their situation has been.”
7. If the school isn’t a good fit, the admissions officer may still be able to help.
“Even if the student is not a good fit for my particular institution, I’m happy to help point them in a better direction. My knowledge and experience are there to help students figure things out.”
8. You don’t have to worry about not knowing everything!
“I think lots of students/families come into this process thinking they should already know what questions to ask. I find it much more helpful when they say “I’m so overwhelmed” or “I don’t know where to start” or even “Do you have a psychology program?” so that we have a stepping off point for the conversation. And that’s what it is…a CONVERSATION, not an INTERROGATION.”
9. Need Essay advice? What better place to get it than from the people who will be making your admissions decisions?
“A student wrote to me last week and said (I’m paraphrasing): I’m applying to a STEM major but I love languages, too. I want to study civil engineering and languages so I can work to improve infrastructure in developing countries. If I focus my essay on my love of languages, will that make me a weaker STEM applicant? In short, I told her that I’d love to read that essay and I admire her aspirations. I was so glad (and impressed) that she reached out.”
10. Admissions Officers can help you keep all of your deadlines straight.
“Realistic timelines/processes is one. You’d be so surprised at how many times I’ve heard students literally pull a deadline out of thin air that doesn’t exist, and then stress themselves out to meet said deadline.”
11. If you’re a parent who’s feeling overwhelmed, there’s hope to be found:
“Also, we can be helpful in putting parents at ease. My dad had 2 sayings back in the day about raising children that I’ve lived by and shared with parents: “parents don’t know anything until kids are adults” — meaning kids don’t value what their parents instill in them until they are adults and understand their perspective, and “sometimes they need to hear it from someone else”— I think both of those exist in our admissions space as well. The school counselor can give an entire rundown, be spot on, and the parent is still going to be skeptical, question it and want to verify it through admissions.”
12. They actually WANT to talk to you, AND they can put you in touch with current students, so you can know what it’s actually like to go to school there:
“We love hearing from students! Also we can connect them with other offices and resources on campus. We can have one on one meetings or we can connect them with students and/or faculty members. This helps now especially since visiting campus is more difficult and often not possible.”
All of these things are pretty great.
There is something students should keep in mind before reaching out:
“Timing is key. Admissions reps have super hectic schedules sometimes, so if you want to maximize your chances for getting the best help they can give, pay attention to what month you’re reaching out.”
”I can give a full hour long phone call in July or November, but NEVER in May.”
“Timing is a huge factor for me. I am desperately working to get my Fall 2020 students all set still, but am already receiving inquiries about Fall 2021. I appreciate a proactive applicant, but I have to prioritize in different ways depending upon the enrollment cycle. This may not be everyone’s situation, but I can give a full hour long phone call in July or November, but never in May. I know this doesn’t provide a constructive action but it’s something I wish applicants could take into consideration.”
If you could ask your admissions officers anything, what else would you want to know? Comment below or on the Facebook post.