As you embark on the college application process, you’ll find that you’ll need to communicate with colleges and admissions officers on a pretty regular basis. With that in mind, it’s important to know how to handle these types of communications properly.
Whenever possible, students – not parents – should contact colleges. After all, colleges are looking to admit students, so they prefer to hear from them directly. Communicating with colleges demonstrates independence, confidence, and self-sufficiency, qualities that most colleges look for in their students. And remember, most colleges can tell when a parent is emailing pretending to be a student, and when a student is emailing pretending to be a parent.
When you do sit down to write an email or a note, pay attention to grammar and spelling, and avoid overly casual language. It might seem obvious, but any time you send written communication to a college, you can’t take it back. Some colleges keep written communications in a student’s file, meaning that if you apply, every email you sent will be part of your application. Others don’t save everything, but they do take note of what’s sent. It’s a good rule of thumb that when sending emails to a college, think if you would want that email to be part of your application, a representation of how you write, and what you have to say.
Before asking any questions at all, be sure to fully explore the college’s website. Some of the most common questions are about application deadlines and academic majors – information that’s easily available through a quick look at the admissions website. If you take the time to do your research and then reach out with a thoughtful and engaging question, it will leave a positive impression.
Though many colleges track communication with individual applicants, not all do. But even at schools that don’t keep track of individual communication, admissions officers will notice poorly written emails and careless questions. Whether strong communication skills will directly benefit you in the application process or not, it’s important to develop those skills now because you’ll continue to rely on them throughout high school, college, and in the workforce.