Every now and then in life we meet someone who undoubtedly seems to hold our future in their hands. They are the ultimate decision maker and their placement of a tiny checkmark next to our name carries the heaviest weight. For high school seniors the person in this coveted position is the dreaded college admissions officer. Even if you don’t get to meet with him or her face to face, you must earn the faith and admiration of this powerful stranger.
The stress and uneasiness of the admissions process can cause some students to rise to the occasion yet others will let their nerves and anxiety get the best of them. Nerves and uncertainty can unsurprisingly lead to errors in judgment and prevent students from putting their best foot forward. Because you only get to make one first impression below are the do and don’t guidelines for engaging college admissions officers.
Embellish your Success or Talents
We know you want to be the brightest star but if you are telling little white lies to help you shine brighter you are setting yourself up for failure! Admissions officers are the ultimate fact checkers. Don’t say you speak fluent Spanish if you can only say basic greetings. Don’t say you had 11 years of ballet if it was actually 11 years off and on with constant gaps. Don’t say you were active in Beta Club if you only went to two meetings per year. Mean what you say and say what you mean.
Ignore Requested Documents or Information
What may not seem like a big deal to you could be crucial information to an admissions officer. Know that you are always on a deadline, even a specific due date is not mentioned. Stay organized throughout your high school years so that any document that they may request is easy to find. Equally important, don’t omit any information listed on the application. They may have a good reason for asking you to describe your perfect vacation after all!
Stalk your Admissions Officer
In the world of social media and internet you can almost find anyone. There is a not so old saying that says, “Just because you can do something it does not mean that you should”. Do not add them as friends on Facebook and like photos of their puppy. Do not frequent the coffee shop that they keep tweeting about. Do not pop by their office during your college tour. Leave them alone. Remember the goal is focusing on what the school is looking for and being up to par with their requirements. There is no need to cozy up to a particular admissions officer.
Tell Them What you Think They Want to Hear
More than likely your admissions officer is a seasoned professional and educator. By now they are fully aware of filler essays and disingenuous responses. Their job is to determine if your qualities and talents will make a good fit with their institution and if you will truly thrive as a student there. The only way they can get to know you is if you be yourself! So if you don’t really care about global warming and world peace but are more concerned with aerospace or traveling the world say so!
Highlight your Strengths
College admissions is not the time to be bashful. Flaunt your gifts. Every single one of them. Are you an expert flute player, have you aced every single math class since middle school, did you organize your town’s annual fair? Wherever you excel let them know. Even if it seems small or unpopular, uniqueness is never a negative quality!
Be Aware of Important Contributions to The School
When applying be sure to illustrate where you can be the biggest asset. If your school is known for it’s community partnerships with local nonprofits, highlight your community service experience and share your plan for developing new alliances. When it comes to community and student life no two schools are the same. Your plan of involvement and student life expectations should also not be a generic, cookie cutter response.
Ask Questions and Attend College Fairs
It’s not advised that you get personal with specific admissions advisers but it is certainly a great idea to physically and virtually follow the department. If you have a student life or admissions question and they offer a means to contact them through their Facebook page or website ask away. Be informed. If they are a presenter at a college fair near you show up and ask questions and show interest. Even if they are presenting at an additional fair in a neighboring city still show up and be involved. This way you are standing out beyond paper without crossing any personal or professional boundaries.
Do Make Grades a Priority
What so many students unfortunately do is spend so much time preparing the “package” of who they are that they neglect their grades. In real life how you finished your senior calculus class may not matter but for college admissions it sure does. Try to keep C’s off of your transcript at all costs. It is lovely if you are well spoken, have 10 talents, and would be a terrific addition to their student life communities. But the priority is always grades. Your academic excellence is fundamental and all of your other qualities are eye catching compliments to how outstanding you are!
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