Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Short Answer: Many admissions counselors really, really, REALLY don't want to hear from you; other counselors want to be helpful in any way they can. The problem is, when you call or stop by, you get what you get. You won't know whether they care or not until they have1) blown you off and made you feel worthless, or 2) smiled and made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Detailed Answer: Contacting an admissions officer can work both for you and against you. I’ve known many, many admissions counselors who consider students and parents a pest. They believe that your application is your application, your academic record is your academic record, and any questions you wish to ask simply have no importance. I’ve also known admissions counselors who automatically believe the student or parent is lying about paperwork they claim to have submitted, or fees they claim to have paid. Every single time I have had someone tell me that they submitted paperwork that can’t be found, I discovered (after doing my own investigation) that the individual was telling me the truth: The document was stuffed into some pile, or scanned into someone else’s file, and the other admissions counselors just couldn’t be bothered to seek it out. But know this: If you are calling to challenge the decision on your application, the fact is that admissions counselors often cannot affect it. In particular, they cannot help you to get off the Wait List. What they CAN do is allow you to request reconsideration of your admissions decision based on senior year outcomes or trends. But that is something they may have no interest in, as well. If you are going to draw attention to yourself by contacting admissions and speaking to a counselor, you will help your cause if you 1) are succinct in the way you ask your question, 2) don’t make excuses, and 3) don’t make threats. An office I worked in installed an alarm system so that we counselors had a way of alerting our colleagues in the back that we felt threatened by a parent or student. So don’t pester anyone to the point that they call Campus Security to escort you off campus. If you truly believe your cause is important and you feel you are being blown off by a counselor, then ask to speak to their supervisor. That still may not get you anywhere – the fact is, no one really wants to talk to you, they’re too busy – but at least you will have had the self-respect and dignity of knowing you gave it your best shot. The bottom line is this: If you have a legitimate reason for calling to ask a question, then be a pest. But remember the old adage, You catch more flies with honey. Be nice, be respectful. Let THEM err on the side of rude and unkind behavior.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Sure. If you are scheduling a visit, or you have a question that you would like answered, a call is certainly welcomed. If you are calling just to chit chat, I don't think that will help you get admitted. If something occurred in your life i.e. you got some big award, and you want to update the admissions counselor on this new achievement, a call or email would suffice.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

If you have new, substantive information, something that can truly add to the school's understanding of who you are and what you can contribute to their community, then yes, contact them and let them know. However, if you are just looking to touch base, to let them know you are still interested, then no. They have a job to do. Your responsibility--and opportunity--was on the front end of the process. At that time you should have made every effort to present yourself as fully and as positively as possible. Left undisturbed, the admissions officers will do justice to what you have offered. Let the professionals do their job.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Absolutely - but it's best in person and on campus to present their credentials.

Heather Tomasello
Writing Coach The EssayLady, LLC

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

You should definitely feel free to contact the admissions office! I know we were happy to answer questions from students or their parents. Just be polite, and don't call every day! You don't want to be "that" student.

Ronald Harris

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

By all means please do. They would be glad to hear from you.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

I say yes, with the following note: Don't overwhelm the admissions office with meaningless inquiries just to get your name known. If you have a genuine question that cannot be answered elsewhere, then ask. It is the job of the admission office to provide support. However, do your homework and don't ask questions that can be readily answered by a visit to the department's website. Also keep in mind important deadlines and dates so that you aren't making one of the hundreds, if not thousands of calls during the deadline.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

It is totally appropriate to contact admissions officers during the application process. You may have a question about your candidacy and how to represent yourself on the application. Your may have a question about the school that no one can answer. If you were deferred or wait-listed you need to indicate your level of interest and add any new information to your application. Obviously during decision reading time, you can expect to wait for a response, while the counselors are in committee. Admissions officers are human and their job is to help you determine if the school is a good fit for you and them. While they may seem like the judge, the jury, and the hangman; that is only one aspect of their position!

Emily Goldman
Founder and Counselor Grey Guidance

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Yes and no. I generally encourage students to *only* contact admissions officers during the admissions process if there is something unique and relevant to add to the application file since the application was submitted. This might include a significant improvement in test scores since the application was submitted, a unique award received, a new leadership position obtained, or something else that is significant enough to note. If you are unsure about whether or not your new achievement meets this standard, I would suggest contacting your college counselor or school adviser as a gauge. Along these same lines, I would *not* suggest contacting your admissions officer to check in on the status of your application, check to see if all of your materials have received, or with relatively insignificant updates. Generally speaking, all of these things can be done either in each school's online application system, or by calling the general admissions office. I am often asked by students if they can be penalized for contacting admissions officers too much. While I have never heard of an "official" penalty process, you always run the risk of unofficially coming across too strong, and in turn, impacting an officer's perception of you as an applicant. Food for thought. Good luck! Emily

Theresa Leary

Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?

Prospective students can and should contact admissions officers during the application process. They should find out who is the officer responsible for the region that they live in and establish a relationship with this person. Opportunities to do so are: when the officer visits your school, when the officer attends a regional college fair, when you have specific questions or information to tell them. Students should NOT harass the admission officer or flood him/her with emails and phone calls. They should engage with him/her at all opportunities such as the above as well as online chat rooms and virtual college fairs. This way, the admission officer will know you and will remember you when he/she reads your application file.