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Top Five Ways to Impress the Admissions Officer

Top Five Ways to Impress the Admissions Officer

Figure out the top five ways to impress the admissions officer.

By Liluye Jhala, ApplyWise counselor

March 12, 2009

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

As a former admission officer at Brown, I know how eye opening it is to meet students in their schools or hometowns. While the sheer volume of students can be overwhelming, it was always refreshing to meet someone who was enthusiastic, sincere, and knowledgeable about Brown. Even after weeks away from home, I came back to Providence remembering a handful of students who made a positive impression on me. Here are my top five tips for making yourself a memorable candidate to any visiting admissions officer.

1. Be five minutes early.

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’s a presentation, get a good seat close to the officer and take that time to introduce yourself. If it’s a college fair, try to be one of the first individuals to speak with the admissions officer.

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2. Dress (and behave) to impress.

At the end of one of my typical presentations to a classroom of 150 students, most dressed very casually, I wandered to the back of the room and wound up chatting with a soft-spoken man in a suit. He followed every word I said and I assumed he was a teacher. At the end of our discussion, though, he thanked me for my talk and asked for my e-mail address. His whole presentation really made him stand out from his classmates. Remember, it’s your job to make a positive impression. So, dress well and speak intelligently. You’ll not only impress the admissions officer, but your classmates and teachers as well.

3. Prepare yourself for thoughtful questions

Do your research on each college before they visit. You should be prepared not only to ask the admissions officer a few questions yourself but to be asked some basic questions in return. Rest assured that unless it is a formal interview, the admissions officer is not interviewing you and, consequently, you probably will not be forced to speak on your greatest disappoints or academic hurdles during your very brief time together. However, you might want to have tentative responses to these very common questions:

  1. What first drew you to this school?
  2. Why do you want to attend?
  3. What are your academic interests?
  4. What do you do for fun?
  5. What books do you read for fun?

Remember, be as specific as possible. The first and second question are similar; the difference, however, is that the second question asks you to define what exactly makes a particular school special (i.e. The New Curriculum at Brown). Your response to the first question, however, could be based upon your own personal experience with a school (i.e. “it was so beautiful and I just loved the small community.”) Also, be sure to include why a particular feature is appealing to you. The admissions officer is, after all, trying to get to know you as a person. Be honest.


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