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1. High School TeachersThe academic year is, in some respects, cyclical. Each year, high school teachers assist their students in applying to and making wise decisions about college. A mentor who has been through this process before, and who understands how you function in school, is a wonderful resource during the application process.
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2. Educational ConsultantsOften, academic consultation and tutoring companies employ individuals who have strong insights into the application process (such as useful tips and tricks) and a measured eye for the rhythm of the college application season.
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3. Admissions RepresentativesIf you are struggling to decide whether a college is correct for you, or if you cannot find the answers to your questions in a school’s online or print materials, contact the admissions office. Call—do not email, Facebook, or Tweet at the college. While email may be appropriate, a telephone conversation with an admissions representative can distinguish you as an applicant. It can also provide you with immediate, specific answers. Keep the following information in mind, however: admissions representatives are very busy, so be polite. Maintaining a running conversation (of brief interactions) during application season is a simple way of remaining in an office’s thoughts without becoming a nuisance. It is also worthwhile to try to meet in person for this reason. While an admissions representative may or may not be the right person to ask about how a particular club functions socially on campus, they will know the right individual with whom you can connect.
4. Student AmbassadorsSpeaking with a current student from the school you are applying to is a fantastic idea. If you do not know anyone at that college, ask an admissions representative to put you in touch with someone. A student who is from your state or town, or who has the same interests as you, will be a great person with whom to interact. Not only is this the best way to receive realistic answers to a lot of your questions about the social side of the campus, but it also helps ease your transition if you decide to attend the school. Having someone to ask about items you should bring to your dorm, aid you in selecting classes with the best professors, or even go with you to the dining hall during your first week is an incredible asset. The most important aspect of this list is the simple act of asking for help. The admissions process is often convoluted, and it involves large decisions central to your future. No student will know everything there is to know about the application process. Asking for help and hearing more than one perspective about a given school are always ideas that are well worth pursuing.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.