I have always believed college admissions is a people business. Relationships matter, maybe more than ever. Even though our world has moved to an online format, college admissions is people connecting with people. College applications are still read by a real person. I have always been a big proponent of students and their families building relationships with admissions officials during the recruiting process and maintaining those relationships, especially when transitioning to campus.
I knew from my past admissions experiences that there were times I went the extra mile for a student because of his/her sincere and consistent communication with me. My extra efforts towards a student may have occurred during the recruitment process or answering their questions after transiting to campus.
To better illustrate this important point, I recently spoke with Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech. Rick is nationally respected for his admissions leadership and dedication to the profession. He has served in many prestigious board positions with the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the ACT Council, and the College Board.
Here is what Rick had to say about the importance of admissions relationships:
“The way recruitment and enrollment efforts are shifting, the relationship with a student has hit a new gear. We are headed to a virtual expansion as college fairs and college visits in the fall are uncertain right now. Admissions officials are more available than ever to students. Students that effectively build relationships will create a springboard for professors and other campus relationships. Admissions officials can be a conduit of information and building those relationships are more important than ever.”
So what are some additional thoughts to Rick’s comments regarding high school seniors and underclassmen?
High School Seniors – I learned many years ago that students predictably have questions as they arrive and transition to campus life. Having an established and trusted admissions contact will provide students with a point person for all the important questions that arise. This is often an aspect that is overlooked by many students and their families. Admissions officials can make campus introductions to professors and key personnel in other departments. Additionally, as colleges are planning for many scenarios with COVID-19 and fall classes, having an admissions contact will keep students informed with the latest information.
High School Underclassmen – As many colleges are creating virtual visit experiences, many admissions officials are dedicating time to speak directly with students. This is a tremendous opportunity as admission officials have an extensive knowledge of their institution. Some admissions officials even have online calendar scheduling technologies to accommodate these requests. Every year colleges make significant changes such as in their admissions requirements, campus life amenities, and program offerings. Having an “institutional insider” is invaluable for students understanding and comparing the unique offerings.
A note to all high school students when communicating with admissions officials – please do not make it all about COVID-19. While we all feel the strain and uncertainty of COVID-19 in our lives, it is important to build a well-rounded relationship. Admissions officials have families and personal lives confronted with many of the same challenges. In any relationship building process there must be an effective balance of topics.
One common theme, which I consistently see from Rick and numerous college admissions officials across the country, is they want to hear from students, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are missing interacting with students and hosting them on campus. As we all have more time at home, maybe now is the right time to start building meaningful admissions relationships. It is never too early or too late to start an admissions relationship that will change your tomorrow.