Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's College Application Time: What to do when you meet an admissions officer IRL

Whether it is at college fair, on a campus tour, or during an admissions interview, at some point you may find yourself face-to-face with an admissions officer. For some, this is even scarier than choosing the topic for their Common App essay. What do you say? What do you do? How do you make the best impression?

DON'T...

  • Recite your scores/stats/accomplishments. These will all be part of your application paperwork and admissions officers are not there to memorize your personal data--they are there to connect with you as a person.
  • Ask questions for which answers are easily found on the school website. You should know if your major of choice is available at their school, the level of Greek life, or whether their campus is urban or rural. 
  • Ask if the food is any good in the cafeteria or how they like the weather where the school is located.
  • Make statements simply to prove you've been on the aforementioned school website. 

DO...Ask a question that shows you are genuinely trying to learn whether you would be a good fit for their institution, such as:

  • How would you describe the level of academic intensity and the workload? How would you describe the study/social balance on campus?
  • How accessible are professors outside of classes?
  • What kinds of opportunities are available for undergraduate research?
  • Do most students participate in clubs, and what are the most popular clubs available on campus? (Specify your area(s) of interest if applicable.)
  • What ways do most students spend their weekends: on campus, in the town, going home?
  • Do many students have internship opportunities? Are they available to all majors?
  • What percentage of students in my area of interest study abroad and how does that work with their major requirements?
REALIZE...The admissions officer is looking to get to know you, too. Be prepared with answers for such question as:
  • Why do you want to apply to XYZ University?
  • What are your academic interests? Are you interested in a particular major or school at XYZ U?
  • What are you favorite extracurricular activities?
  • What is your favorite book or movie?

REMEMBER...This is not a one-sided process. While colleges can be selective in their admissions processes, without intelligent, motivated STUDENTS, their institutions would not exist. Both you and the admissions staffers need what the other offers. Keep that in mind when you have the opportunity to meet each other.