Creating Positive Admissions Connections
How to communicate effectively with colleges/universities when you are an applicant
By Claudine Vainrub
A crucial and not very often discussed part of the application process is the rapport candidates establish with offices of admissions at the colleges they intend to apply to. As an applicant, you need to communicate effectively with colleges and universities in order to support your candidacy. If communications are not favorable, there is a strong possibility that your application might be rejected. “In this day and age, your communication skills needs to be good otherwise chances of your career advancement gets bleak,” pointed out Chitranjan Das of Miranda College.
To get an admission into a college of your choice, you need to submit an application form. Although these are available online, if you have a chance, it is advisable that you go to the university itself in order to get a form so that you can have all information in a tangible folder. By following this route, not only you will get an overview of the college but also get to know about the admissions staff, faculty members and students. With good communication skills, you can make an instant impression on the mind of someone in admissions or a faculty member. This can go a long way in beginning to open doors for you at the college.
Don’t show attitude:
When communicating with college staff, make sure that you don’t show attitude. College authorities do not like to give admission to students who do not have speaking manners. “Colleges prefer students whose academic and disciplinary records are good. If your academic records are good but you lack discipline, you may not get admission into the college of your choice,” said Bernhard Langer of IGNOU University.
Communicating through e-mail:
E-mail is a best communication tool for students. With e-mail, students can get all the necessary details ranging from course structure, fee and placement assistance. When using e-mail as a communication tool, you need to show plenty of patience. Often, colleges take ten to fifteen days to respond to an e-mail.
When writing e-mail, it is your responsibility to check for typos and grammatical errors. This is a fundamental rule of professional communication. If an email server do not possess spell check function, copy and paste your text into a program with spell check function. Instead of using text message abbreviations, make sure that you use proper English.
- “hi i am interested in ur college can u send me more info.”
- “Hello, I am interested in your college and would like to get more details.”
Of the above two, we can easily predict which one is not going to impress college authority. The first one needs decoding, on the other hand second one is up to the point and more importantly is in plain English. Do not use abbreviations, unless relevant to the college (Bachelor of Science, for example, can be abbreviated to B.S.)
Don’t give college authority a long, drawn out life incident. Make sure that you use short sentences. If the college authority has offered important details, send them a quick thank you. You are writing a cover letter, think of it more as a letter you would send an employer to find a job, than an email destined to a friend of yours. Screen your email address also – it’s the details that count. If your email is EZman2000@gmail.com or something silly, that you think could be funny, by all means, it is time to create a more formal address with your first and last name – email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Develop an address that you would feel comfortable sending emails from to anyone, not just friends.
Before taking admission in any college or university, you need to check the accreditation first. “If the college you are interested in taking admission are hiding accreditation details, it is a clear sign that something is wrong,” said Pushpesh Pant. Earning degree from a non-accredited university can have a negative impact on your academic future. To check the accreditation, you need to talk with the admission department officials. Be ready to respectfully address this question with an admissions officer, seeking information to make the right decision. However, even if finding something that does not suit you, always be polite. You never know when you’ll need to open doors with that person or institution again.
Studying the university/college profile carefully
To get a proper understanding of a particular college or university, you need to read the prospectus and the college website carefully. After reading the school information, you will be able to communicate effectively with the college authorities. All your emphasis should be on the facts and figures related to college. It includes student-faculty ratio, passing percentage of students and percentage of students placed after completing the course. Discussing specifics on your program of choice with detail will also favor you when showing in-depth research and analysis from your behalf to learn more on the university. Seek faculty in your area of interest, try connecting with them to learn about research and teaching assistant opportunities. This might help you score point, while learning about things that might be useful once you begin your studies. It will also help you begin networking, building relationships for the future.
Screen your Parent Communications
A counselor once told me a story of a mother contacting a university over and over and even becoming aggressive regarding her son’s admission status. The university contacted the counselor saying that the student’s rejection was directly related to the mother’s lack of sensitivity in her communications with the school staff. If he had a chance with the school, the student lost it because of his mother’s improper communications. Sensor your parents, teach them what to do or not do when communicating with colleges. Even better, make your own case, one in which your parents do not interfere. Schools don’t want to hear from your parents, they want to hear directly from the students. Your parents will not be holding your hand while you are away in college so this needs to be a demonstration to the college that you can drive a process on your own to achieve successful results. It’s the first full opportunity to show that you are ready to embrace and succeed at this next step of your life.
Admissions officers often times have the opportunity to take input from student communications to make admissions decisions. Make sure to maximize the opportunity to enhance and not hurt your chances to get in by being proactive, attentive, courteous and smart in your communications. You’ll get a lot farther in admissions when developing and following a strategy to positively connect to the decision-makers of this next step of your life.