There are quite a few reasons why you might find the need to email your admissions officer. These include:
- Requesting a meeting when you are on campus visiting during a weekday
- Asking a question about the college’s programs or application process
- Checking on your application status after you’ve submitted your app
- Letting them know you saw a bug on your morning walk (Just kidding. Don’t do this. AOs are busy people. Don’t annoy them with a pointless email or a question you could easily find for yourself).
There is a good chance you will find yourself needing to email several admissions officers or college faculty in the course of your college planning process, but many students are stumped with how to do this. We’ve put together a little guide to help (life skills are where it’s at!).
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: The email has to come from the student, sound like a student wrote it, and be responded to by the student. Mom and Dad, definitely help and guide, but students have to own their process and be in charge of their communication. Colleges expect this and might flag an applicant’s file if there is too much evidence the student is not college-ready or independent enough yet to handle the college environment.
Here’s an outline of how to do this:
- The subject line: Keep it simple and to the point.
ii.Meeting request during campus visit
iii.Checking on application status – CAID 975674
iv.Inquiry: Ability to double major in CS and Electrical Engineering
- The addressee: Check the title you are using to address your recipient. For women, use Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss unless you have met their spouse last week for a quick golf game and are certain she is still married. If you are emailing a dean of professor, there is a good chance they have a Ph.D. Use Dr. in this case. If the professor has a masters degree (you can find all this in their faculty bio and/or CV online on the faculty page for the department in question) use the title “Professor”. Bonus tip: spell their name right (this happens A LOT. Take your time and be thorough)
- Writing the email: Start by introducing yourself. Include your full legal name (you don’t have to include your middle name, especially if it’s Thelma and you are still salty for having to write that out on the forms for all your college apps), your high school and home city, your year in school (freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior), and your date of birth (this part is helpful for admissions to match to your file). You might also include your application ID if you have already applied and have one.
- Ask your question: Jump straight in to your point. Keep it to one brief paragraph. If it requires more than that, you should be setting up a phone appointment/calling in the question.
- End with gratitude: Say “Thank you” or “Thank your for your consideration” or “With gratitude” – something to show you appreciate their help with your process and are a lovely, polite, amicable human being (which you are!)
- Wait for a response (give it three business days), and respond (if needed) when the email comes in: This means you need to check your email once a day! It’s a good habit to develop. Maybe do this right when you get home from school each day.
Here are a couple real example emails students have sent recently.
Dear Mr. Pederson,
My name is Firstname Lastname and I will be touring SMU this Friday. I'm emailing you to ask if there is a class I could sit in on, preferably an intro to journalism class or any class involved in the Fashion Media major. Going into SMU the Fashion Media major is what I would like to pursue and I would like to see a preview on how the classes interact and the involvement of the students. Thank you for your consideration!
Hello Mr. Jackson,
My name is Firstname Lastname from Flower Mound High School here in North Texas. I wanted to give you my thanks for hand-writing that postcard in regards to my acceptance to KU! That alongside the notification of the KU Distinctions Scholarship really meant a lot to me.
I went to the NorTex College Fair in Denton that The University of North Texas hosted, and I had the opportunity of meeting Allyson Peters! She was extremely helpful and gave me a lot of useful information.
I wanted to point out something I discussed with her: The KU Excellence Scholarship. I had mentioned that I have taken the ACT exam three separate times, and that my highest score was a 26, which qualifies me for the Distinction scholarship. Would it be wise to take the ACT exam a fourth time to try and score a 28? The lady at the college fair mentioned that I could email you if I scored a 27, and while my tests superscore up to a 27, I'm aware that you guys don't superscore. Getting the Distinction scholarship is such an honor, but knowing that I'm still on the college search, should I take it one final time to see if I can raise it up higher than my past three exams?
Thanks so much!
These both sound very much like high school students because they were written by high school students. We as adults might look at a phrasing here or there and want to correct it, but resist that urge. These are great – they are authentic, they reflect the student’s actual questions, and they communicate very professionally in the way that a 17 year old would communicate professionally.
Guide your students to learn to write great emails and communicate well on behalf of themselves. Empower them by giving them examples and offering to review their work and give them feedback. And encourage them to reach out to build rapport to do the best job they can in their college planning process.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org