Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers

Theresa Leary

Prospective students can and should contact admissions officers during the application process. They should find out who is the officer responsible for the region that they live in and establish a relationship with this person. Opportunities to do so are: when the officer visits your school, when the officer attends a regional college fair, when you have specific questions or information to tell them. Students should NOT harass the admission officer or flood him/her with emails and phone calls. They should engage with him/her at all opportunities such as the above as well as online chat rooms and virtual college fairs. This way, the admission officer will know you and will remember you when he/she reads your application file.

Patricia Krahnke President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Short Answer: Many admissions counselors really, really, REALLY don’t want to hear from you; other counselors want to be helpful in any way they can. The problem is, when you call or stop by, you get what you get. You won’t know whether they care or not until they have1) blown you off and made you feel worthless, or 2) smiled and made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Detailed Answer: Contacting an admissions officer can work both for you and against you. I’ve known many, many admissions counselors who consider students and parents a pest. They believe that your application is your application, your academic record is your academic record, and any questions you wish to ask simply have no importance. I’ve also known admissions counselors who automatically believe the student or parent is lying about paperwork they claim to have submitted, or fees they claim to have paid. Every single time I have had someone tell me that they submitted paperwork that can’t be found, I discovered (after doing my own investigation) that the individual was telling me the truth: The document was stuffed into some pile, or scanned into someone else’s file, and the other admissions counselors just couldn’t be bothered to seek it out. But know this: If you are calling to challenge the decision on your application, the fact is that admissions counselors often cannot affect it. In particular, they cannot help you to get off the Wait List. What they CAN do is allow you to request reconsideration of your admissions decision based on senior year outcomes or trends. But that is something they may have no interest in, as well. If you are going to draw attention to yourself by contacting admissions and speaking to a counselor, you will help your cause if you 1) are succinct in the way you ask your question, 2) don’t make excuses, and 3) don’t make threats. An office I worked in installed an alarm system so that we counselors had a way of alerting our colleagues in the back that we felt threatened by a parent or student. So don’t pester anyone to the point that they call Campus Security to escort you off campus. If you truly believe your cause is important and you feel you are being blown off by a counselor, then ask to speak to their supervisor. That still may not get you anywhere – the fact is, no one really wants to talk to you, they’re too busy – but at least you will have had the self-respect and dignity of knowing you gave it your best shot. The bottom line is this: If you have a legitimate reason for calling to ask a question, then be a pest. But remember the old adage, You catch more flies with honey. Be nice, be respectful. Let THEM err on the side of rude and unkind behavior.

Nancy Milne Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

It is totally appropriate to contact admissions officers during the application process. You may have a question about your candidacy and how to represent yourself on the application. Your may have a question about the school that no one can answer. If you were deferred or wait-listed you need to indicate your level of interest and add any new information to your application. Obviously during decision reading time, you can expect to wait for a response, while the counselors are in committee. Admissions officers are human and their job is to help you determine if the school is a good fit for you and them. While they may seem like the judge, the jury, and the hangman; that is only one aspect of their position!

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