Connecting with Admissions Offices from afar

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October 29, 2014

Visiting colleges and/or interviewing is a great way to “demonstrate (your) interest” in attending. However, if you are unable to visit or interview, fret not!  

There are many ways to make the decision makers aware of who you are and of your interest in attending.  But whether you connect via email, by telephone, or in person, it is important in all circumstances to be able to articulate clearly what you are hoping to get from your college experience (why them?) as well as what you will bring to campus (why you?). 

Here are 5 ways to connect from afar:

  1. Email or Telephone
    A great way to get on the radar of admissions offices is to reach out directly. On the admissions website you can usually find your local representative (and if you cannot, call the office to inquire) and their contact information. Send an email or call them to introduce yourself, let them know how thrilled you are at the possibility of attending their institution, and ask a thoughtful question that gives them insight into your goals and shows you have done your homework (don’t ask a question you can find with a little digging on their website!).

    Here is an example of a thoughtful question: I plan to pursue a career in sports journalism and am hoping to major in broadcast media at AWESOME COLLEGE. I was excited to learn that all students in this major have the opportunity to participate in a semester-long fieldwork placement to gain hands-on experience beyond the classroom. I was wondering what are some other ways in which broadcast media students can collaborate on campus or community initiatives throughout their college experience at AWESOME COLLEGE?

  2. Connect with stakeholders outside of the Admissions Office
    There are many other people that you can speak with at a college of choice beyond the admissions office. For example, you can speak with a department administrator or professor from a field of interest to learn more specifically about the program you plan to study. You can also speak with current students or alumni to hear about their experiences at the school.

    Speaking with these stakeholders will serve several purposes:
    - You can ask pointed questions that will help you determine best-fit and also help you answer the “why X school” supplemental question
    - You can refer to your conversations with these stakeholders when communicating with admissions offices which will only further demonstrate your level of interest and ability to be proactive. Example: you may send an email to the admissions office making them aware of your contact with a Professor. Most students don’t realize that all email correspondence becomes part of your file!
    - You can ask the admissions office the best way to contact one of these stakeholders so that they know, in advance, you are taking this thoughtful step
    - You never know if perhaps the admissions office and the stakeholder will communicate about your interaction further enhancing your candidacy and helping you stand out from the crowd.

  3. Website Interaction and Social Media
    There are several ways that you can use the school’s website and social media to demonstrate interest.
    - “Request Information” or “Sign up for the mailing” list on the admissions homepage
    - Participate in any and all webinars or chat forums that the admissions office offers
    - Follow the schools on social media and make thoughtful and relevant comments
    - Click through links on emails that are you sent to you (schools can and do track click-throughs!)

  4. Alternative Interviews
    Just because you cannot interview on campus does not mean you cannot interview at all!  Take the initiative to find out other opportunities to interview off campus.  You can email the admissions representative to find out if/when they will be visiting schools in your hometown (make sure to check dates and times their website first!) and inquire to see if they have any availability to meet with you.  You can also ask the admissions office (or check the admissions website) about interviewing with local alumni.

  5. Local Events
    Many colleges offer various events throughout the country such as open houses, information sessions, high school visits, and college fairs. It is on you to be proactive and find them. You can find these by checking the admissions website, emailing the admissions office (only if it is not on the website), asking your school counselor, or researching local fairs online. A great fair to check out is the NACAC college fairs here