Guide to Meeting College Admissions Officers
Securing an interview with a college admissions officer at the school of your choice can be instrumental in getting accepted. Most colleges receive a high volume of applicants, so a personal interview can make your application stand out. Described below are steps to take before, during, and after a meeting with a college admissions officer to help you make the most of this exciting opportunity.
Before the meeting:
Take time to reflect on your intentions for the meeting. Are you there to find out more about specific degrees and programs? Are you there to simply put a face to your college application? Understanding your desired outcomes of the meeting will focus your preparation. Write a list of questions you have about the school. Conduct some research to see if you can find some of the answers to the more basic questions such as what languages are offered, or specific concentrations.
You want to maximize your time with the officer, so avoid asking questions that you could easily find the answers to. Prepare questions that demonstrate your sincere interest in the school. Ask how you can get involved on campus, what resources are available to you to enable success, what sets this school apart from others like it, etc. Showing up to a meeting prepared with thoughtful, engaging questions tailored to the school will show the admissions officer that you respect their time and are serious about their institution.
Here are examples of questions that you can ask based on Academics, Student Life, High-Impact Practices, Residential Life, and Career-Readiness:
1. Are there interdisciplinary majors or minors? If you’re undecided or know that you want to double major, then this question will introduce you to the institution’s academic variety. Interdisciplinary programs combine different fields to understand complex topics.
2. Is there a foreign language requirement? Many liberal arts colleges will have some sort of language requirement required for graduation.
3. How many languages are offered? Make sure your institution offers the language you’re interested in learning.
4. Is there a common text or Freshman-Year Seminar? Common intellectual experiences are proven to enrich the freshman experience socially and academically. The answer to this question will also tell you what your freshman year will look like.
5. Are there different academic requirements across the majors? If you’re decided on a major, this is a helpful question. For example, your academic department might require an extra essay or a portfolio submission.
6. How does advising work over the 4 years? Is it housed within departments? How often do you meet with said advisor?
7. What are some of the more popular clubs and organizations on campus? This will tell you how students spend their free time out of the classroom.
8. How politically active is the student body? Is there a Student Government Association? If you’re passionate about politics, then you might want to make sure there’s a Student Government Association on campus. It’s a great way to make a positive impact on your campus.
9. Can I start my own club? Most colleges will allow students to formally establish their own club.
10. Athletics: What men’s/women’s varsity sports are offered? Whether you want to play on a team or attend games as a spectator, it’s important to know what your options are.
11. Do you offer intramural/club sports? Even if you don’t plan on playing on a varsity team, you can still enjoy the camaraderie and competition of intramural sports.
12. Is there a freshman residency requirement? Nearly all colleges require freshmen to live on campus, though some are allowed to commute if they live within a certain radius of campus.
13. Is there on-campus housing for upperclassmen? If you want to stay on campus all four years, then it’s good to know what options are available to you.
14. If not, what are off-campus housing options like? Many schools will help you navigate the off-campus housing search!
15. Are there living-learning communities? Living-learning communities are a great way to integrate your social and academic interests. Many LLCs are based on academic interests so that you can live near others studying the same thing as you.
16. How are roommates assigned? Traditionally, colleges assign roommates using a questionnaire that asks about various personal preferences, including neatness and messiness, musical preferences, and study habits. Sometimes there are options to select your own roommate, so ask about this if it’s important to you.
High Impact Practices are hands-on experiences to undergraduates—seminars, engaging programs, research-based strategies, and community structures that go beyond the curriculum or expand upon academic majors.
17. Are internships required for graduation? Different departments will have specific internship or co-op requirements, so find out what applies to you.
18. If not, how is the career services office connecting students with internship opportunities? Internships are amazing learning opportunities that you should explore even if they’re not required for your major. Make sure the career services office helps students locate these internship opportunities.
19. What kind of opportunities are there for students to study abroad internationally or domestically? Studying abroad is a great way to broaden your horizons and experience new cultures. Even domestic study away trips are great opportunities.
20. What are the most popular options among students?
21. Are there faculty-led trips? Faculty-led programs offer a short-term study abroad experience that is organized and led by faculty. Generally speaking, a faculty-led program combines traditional classroom learning with experiential learning abroad, often for a few days near the end of the term.
22. Will my financial aid apply to my study abroad trip? Most financial aid will apply to your study abroad trip, but there might be some stipulations.
23. What kind of research opportunities are available for undergraduates? Research and presentation is an invaluable undergraduate experience.
24. Are there research opportunities for Humanities majors? We all know there are plenty of opportunities for STEM majors, but how about the Humanities? If grad school is in your future, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of research experiences under your belt.
25. Are there opportunities for me to present my research on campus or at a regional/national conference? Presenting research is a wonderful way to gain valuable oral communication skills. It’s also a great way to get recognized for your hard work.
26. Are there courses that incorporate service-learning into the curriculum? These are programs that put students into the community as volunteers and interns, allowing them to put their coursework into practice in real-world settings.
27. Are there campus wide volunteer events? Campus-wide volunteer events can start as early as orientation. These are great events at which to give back to the community and connect with peers.
28. Is there an alternative spring break? If partying on a beach in Cancún isn’t your ideal spring break, then consider volunteering during that time. These active learning experiences allow you to test the waters of service, cause-based activism, leadership-building, or relationship-building programs.
29. How does the career services office support a student’s academic and professional goals? If you already know what you want to be when you grow up, great! It’s still important to know how your college will help you get there. And if you’re undecided, you want to make sure the career services office has your back as you figure out what you want.
30. Will I get support from the career services office even after I graduate? Many schools will offer their services to alumni. This can be instrumental in helping you in the future.
Of course, you won’t have time to ask every single question. To make the most of the time you have with the admissions officer, pick 5 or 10 questions that are most relevant to your academic and social interests.
During the meeting:
Make a good first impression. College admissions officers are looking for students who will positively reflect their school. Demonstrate how your skills, values, and experiences make you an asset to the school. Dress appropriately, act professionally, and be confident. You want an admissions officer to know as well as you do that you are a perfect fit for the school.
Be prepared for some questions directed towards you. An admissions officer might ask you things about yourself like your interests, your goals, your strengths and weaknesses. They want to make sure you will fit in culturally and academically. If you are sure that this is the right school for you, then the admissions officer will likely see that. Let your personality and charisma prove how you will be a strong student, classmate, and leader.
After the meeting:
The inbox of an admissions officer is perpetually full, so emailing or calling constantly after a meeting is not only inconsiderate, but also a waste of time. After the meeting, send a brief email thanking them for their time. Remind the officer of your serious interest in the school and let them know you are looking forward to their decision. Should they need any other materials or information from you, tell them you are happy to oblige. Send the email and wait patiently. You might not get a response until the college has made a final decision.
Meeting with a college admissions officer can be intimidating. It will feel as if they hold the fate of your future in their hands, but don’t stress about the meeting too much. With the right amount of preparation and confidence you are sure to prove that you are the ideal candidate.