While it’s perfectly appropriate to contact admissions officers as you move through the college application process, it’s important to know who to contact and why.
Colleges have regional admissions officers who cover your geographic area and are directly involved in admissions decisions. Many colleges keep track of your correspondence, especially as it gets closer to application season. When making admissions decisions, some colleges will take into account how likely it is that an applicant will enroll. That means the level of interest you demonstrate could be a factor in your admissions decisions. You don’t want to overwhelm colleges with phone calls and emails, though! As a general rule, less is more when it comes to contacting admissions officers.
Keep reading for the best reasons to communicate with your regional officer and some important dos and don’ts.
Sending a follow-up email or thank you note
If an admissions officer visited your school or gave an information session in your area, it can be a good idea to follow up with a short email. Thank them for their time, and ask any questions that weren’t answered in the info session (assuming answers aren’t easily found on the college’s website).
Asking to be put in touch with a current student
Speaking with current students is one of the best ways to really get to know a college. If you already know someone who attends a school you’re interested in, contact them to get a candid impression. But if you don’t know any current students, the admissions office will have student representatives who can answer your questions. Just remember that a student working for the admissions office will be less likely to give unfiltered opinions.
Asking thoughtful questions about the college
Some of the most common questions students have are about application deadlines and academic majors – information that’s easily available through a quick look at the admissions website. Emailing an admissions officer with questions like these can leave a negative impression because you didn’t take the time to look for the information yourself. By contrast, if you take the time to do your research and then reach out with a thoughtful and engaging question, you’ll stand out for the right reasons.
Making updates to your application materials
If something important happened after you submitted your application, let admissions officers know about it! For example, if you win an award or competition, you will want colleges to see that you’ve achieved something significant.
Replying to a waitlist offer
If you’ve been waitlisted, you’ll receive a letter with instructions on how to accept or decline the offer to stay on the waitlist. Be sure to follow those instructions carefully and consider following up with a letter of continued interest. A continued interest letter will let the school know you’re committed to attending if admitted and update them on any important achievements since you first applied.
If you’ve been waitlisted and are wondering about next steps, we have more advice here.
… have students (not parents) contact colleges. 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.
… fully explore the college’s website before asking any questions at all.
… be specific! Think about the information you really need and ask specific questions. Instead of “What kinds of music opportunities does your university offer for non-majors?” try “I’m a cellist and I want to continue to play in college. I noticed on your website that you don’t require me to be a music major to play in the orchestra, but how competitive is the audition process?”
… use formal, but natural, language in written and spoken communication. It probably goes without saying that you should avoid overly casual language or emojis in your communication with admissions officers. But don’t skew too far the other direction, either! Overly formal language will seem odd and could get in the way of clarity. Pay attention to grammar and spelling, and use your own voice. When emailing admissions officers, ask yourself if you would want that email to be part of your application, a representation of how you write and what you have to say.
… be positive and friendly. Admissions officers want to help you as best they can.
… mail extra materials (art portfolios, essays, music) to an admissions office if they are not requested (or at least allowed) by the school. If you send something that isn’t a part of a school’s application review process, it will most likely be discarded.
… call immediately after submitting an application to see if your materials have been received. It usually takes about two weeks for admissions offices to process materials. Wait at least that long, and then call if you don’t see your materials marked as being received on your student portal.
… pretend to be someone you’re not! Parents shouldn’t call or email admissions offices pretending to be their kids, and kids shouldn’t pretend to be their parents.
Tailored advice on the application process, including when and how to contact admissions officers, is available through our services at Expert Admissions.