Corresponding with Admissions Officers

Planning on becoming pen pals with an admissions officer?  Make sure you know the proper etiquette first!

Following your visit to the college fair, you find yourself flush with business cards from various admissions officers.  And now you’re thinking about capitalizing on some of these contacts.  After all, questions still linger and you figure it makes sense to go directly to the experts.  It’s definitely a smart move on your part.  But are you confident that you know how to craft these kinds of emails?

To begin with, consider the email address you’ll be using.  Are you planning to write from an account that has a jokey, inappropriate or perhaps immature name?  If so, think about creating a new address that simply incorporates your name (or some version of it).  You don’t want to send an email from an address that might raise some eyebrows.

Similarly, think carefully about the language you choose.  As it stands now, you’re probably used to logging into your Gmail account and shooting off quick emails to friends.  And within those letters, you might use shorthand (ex. spelling “two” with a “2”) or some colorful language.  However, that’s not suitable given this context.  While you don’t need to craft the email in the vein of an academic paper, you definitely want it to read as professional and polite as possible.

Moreover, if you decide to reach out, make sure you’re doing so with good reason.  Indeed, akin to what we advocated for the fair, don’t ask questions to which you could easily find the answer on a school’s website or within its pamphlets.  Have specific queries and/or concerns.  This will certainly show that you’ve done your research.  Further, it will allow you to demonstrate genuine interest in the school.  And, just as important, the admissions officer won’t feel as though you are wasting his or her time.

Remember, you should not use this correspondence as a time to brag or bolster your candidacy in any way.  Nor should you use this opportunity to submit any facet of your application.  All of this will be seen as inappropriate.  You don’t want to appear oblivious, self-involved or as though you’re abusing this connection.

You may end up exchanging several emails with an admissions officer.  And that’s great.  However, don’t mistake this correspondence for friendship.  Make sure you don’t begin using a more casual, familiar tone.  Additionally, do not begin increasing the number of emails you send (i.e., no daily updates).  And don’t ask any personal questions or inquire about your status and/or candidacy.  Be sure you remain professional and mature throughout the duration of your correspondence.

Finally, just as you would with a research paper or any facet of your application, make sure you proofread the email before you hit send.  Any hint of laziness will surely leave a bad impression.  You want to avoid being seen as sloppy at all costs.

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