College reps are typically assigned “territories” to manage. They are your direct contact with their college and admissions office. Here are four ways to elevate your standing in their eyes:
Meet the Representatives When They Come to your School for an Informational Visit and attend their session. You will see these visit through your school’s Naviance account. Afterwards shake their hand, get their business card, ask a pre-rehearsed question, and send them a follow-up e-mail. If you can’t attend the meeting, send them an e-mail and see if they are available to meet at another time. Many reps meet interested students at coffee shops to talk. Even when you can’t make that meeting, you are letting them know that you are interested in the college.
Tip: Find the name and contact info of your local admissions rep in the admission section of the school’s website or by getting in touch with the Office of Admission there.
Attend A College Fair – When college fairs are held in your region or at your high school, you should attend them. Your rep will likely be manning the college’s table, or, if they’re an alumni they may be able to connect you with their office’s rep.
Here is how to make a strong impression at the fair:
- Make an effort to dress professionally, or at the very least, not excessively casual. Think “business casual”, not “I just got done at the gym” in terms of dress.
- Arrive early and avoid the rush! If there is a line, you may want to return later in the fair. The counselor may usher the line closer to the table so they’re not repeating themselves. Be patient.
- Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to the counselor. Make eye contact and offer a handshake. Tell the counselor your name and that you’re excited to find out more information about their institution.
- Develop a few strong, specific questions. Do they offer the program you’re interested in? Are there any marquee majors or programs? What about the student experience? What’s the range of athletic opportunities? Housing? Career services?
- General questions often lead to general answers. Be specific. “How is your business program?” could be better phrased as “Tell me about your business program and your emphasis in entrepreneurship. What career resources are there?”
- Ask for the rep’s contact info or business card. Better yet, make sure they have YOUR contact info. Counselors aren’t just there to say hello, they want to make sure they are able to get in touch with you about important deadline and application info.
- Every interaction doesn’t warrant a thank you note, but if you have a great conversation, go home and write one. You will be noticed and remembered.
If offered, schedule an interview. There may be several different kinds of on- and off-campus interviews:
- Required: Self-explanatory, but know the format. In-person? Over Skype? Alumni?
- Evaluative: If interviews aren’t required, but recommended, you may be able to interview and the impressions of the interviewer may be included as part of the application review process.
- Non-evaluative or informational: These are not part of the application process. They give the school an opportunity to start a dialogue with you. These interviews may be conducted by current students and alumni.
Tip: You may not be able to speak with your counselor during your interview if they aren’t available or are busy interviewing other students. Don’t worry! Your interviewer will share his or her notes with your local rep and those notes will end up in your file.
Reach Out to Your Rep. If you have specific, hard-to-answer questions throughout the application process, he or she may be able to help, or at the very least point you in the right direction. No questions? Send your rep a brief email saying hello and that you’re excited about the possibility of attending. Don’t send them questions to which you can easily find the answer. If you can google it, you probably don’t need to ask. College reps aren’t mean – their job is to advise and provide assistance through all parts of the application process – but don’t be surprised or offended if their response is brief. They got LOTS of emails.