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How to Impress an Admissions Officer

How to Impress an Admissions Officer

By Liluye Jhala, ApplyWiseCounselor

March 10, 2009

It’s September and the start of another busy fall semester. If you are a Junior or a Senior, you know that this is the time of year when college representatives are in your hometown. They are either visiting your school, having evening receptions, or attending local college fairs. This is an excellent way to get information without visiting the campus. It is also an opportunity to make a great impression on the admissions officer who may be evaluating your application in a few short months.

As a former admission officer at Brown, I can tell you how eye opening it is to meet students in their school or hometown. While the sheer volume of students can be overwhelming, it was refreshing when I met someone who was enthusiastic, sincere and knowledgeable about Brown. Even after weeks away from home, I came back to Providence remembering the handful of students who made a positive impression on me. So, here are my top five tips that will make you a memorable candidate to a visiting admissions officer.

1. Be Five Minutes Early to Introduce Yourself After you’ve decided which colleges you’d like to get to know better, plan ahead and try to get there early. If you are there first, you might have the opportunity to spend one on one time with the admissions officer. If it is a presentation, get a good seat close to the officer and take that time to introduce yourself. If it is a college fair, try to be one of the first individuals to speak with the admissions officer.

2. Dress and Behave to Impress I remember walking into a classroom of 150 students and giving my presentation. Most were very casually dressed. At the back of the room was a soft-spoken young man wearing a suit. He followed every word I said. I assumed he was a teacher, but at the end of the session he, thanked me for my talk and asked for my e-mail address. How he presented himself made him stand out from his classmates. Remember, it’s your job to make a positive impression. So, dress well if you can. You’ll not only make an impression on the admissions officer, but on your classmates and teachers as well. They will see how serious you are taking the college search process.

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3. Be thoughtful about your questions Do your research on each college before they visit. Ask qualitative questions NOT quantitative ones. For example, a quantitative question asks about Brown’s average SAT score. You can find that answer on the Brown website and in many college guidebooks. Here’s an example of a qualitative question that impressed me: “How has President Simmons’ push for globalization changed the international relations department or expanded study abroad options?” Try to ask a question that digs deeper in the academic and social experience of being a student at that school.

4. End the conversation on a good note Harassing the admissions officer by dominating the conversation or monopolizing his or her time can leave a bad impression. Instead, after asking your three thoughtful, qualitative questions, end the conversation by saying, “I do have more questions, but let me give you time to meet with other students. Can I have your email/business card so I can keep in touch?” Take his or her business card and give a firm handshake when you say goodbye.

5. Follow up within 48 hours When you get home, review your notes from the conversation you had with the admissions officer. Then, write the admissions officer a short, thank you e-mail, noting a few details of your conversation. Make sure you include your first and last name, high school and date of your conversation. This will help your admission officer remember your face out of the hundreds, maybe thousands of students that he or she may see during his or her fall recruitment travels. Use this e-mail to ask another question and make sure you convey how genuinely enthusiastic you are about the possibility of applying to their school. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a response. Remember, you are demonstrating sincere interest and that leaves a lasting impression.

Armed with these tips, you will make a wonderful first and lasting impression on the admissions officers of your top schools. Work hard this semester and remember to have fun when you’re researching schools. Good luck!


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