At a college fair last spring, a high school junior approached and looked disconcertedly at the inquiry card on my table. The information requested is simple biographic stuff – name, address, high school, etc. It is a small first step in the admissions process and filling it out is 95% of the action at a college fair.
Picking up the inquiry card, this student held up the card, looked at me and asked, “Do I have to fill out the whole thing?”
I was speechless. Literally.
I had no answer to that question. With hundreds of college fairs in my past, never before had a student asked that question.
Thankfully, the college rep next to me overheard this question and interjected with a colorful response.
“That is not a good start to the process.”
She was right. Was he really looking for a short-cut already? If his parents had been there, would his mother have filled out the card? Probably.
Close to 30% of the emails I receive are “signed” by students but originate from a parent’s email account. Yes, it is possible that they’ve used their parent’s account for all official correspondence with colleges. But if I were to guess, I’d say that the parents don’t trust their child’s ability to communicate properly with a college’s admissions office.
What are we to do with these emails? Do we take them seriously? If the email states that our college is their first choice, do we take it seriously, in spite of the fact that it originates from a parent’s email account? If they have a grammatical mistake, should we hold it against the student?
A significant part of this college search and application process is students finding their voice – in conversations with their parents and counselor, in admissions interviews and in application essays. And while it may seem trivial, an important first step in this process is for students to write their own emails from their own accounts when communicating with an admissions office.
Associate Director of Admissions