Facing Your Fears: How to Talk with College Representatives


There can be a number of intimidating encounters that you will experience along your college admissions journey; among them is when you’re directly communicating with college admission representatives at college fairs. You may feel as though you have to be careful with your words and the way in which you present yourself to them, or that they come to college fairs to hunt down information on prospective students. However, these common misconceptions are false. College representatives come to college fairs simply as resources. All they want to do is provide you with as much information about their school as they can and to answer any questions or concerns that you have. They are not there to find out your deepest darkest secrets and put your name on a list of future rejections. So no need to fear, here’s a guide on topics you can discuss with college representatives. be-specific

Be Specific

When speaking with an admissions representative, you should always ask questions that are specific to the particular college or university that they are representing, rather than asking broader, general questions that can simply be answered on the College Board website. For example, instead of asking what the GPA or SAT/ACT standards are for that school, ask about the kinds of aspects that the school particularly looks for in prospective students. Try asking more open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions so that you are given as much information as possible.

Do Research

You should also do a bit of research on the colleges that you are interested in looking into before you attend the fair, so that you have a better understanding of the school as well as some things you may want to ask the representatives. Ask them about specific academic programs at their school or the campus environment. Not only does this allow you to have more accurate information, but it also shows the representative that you genuinely have an interest in that particular school. Don’t worry too much about that last part though; like I said, they’re not hunting for prospective students. This is just something that they appreciate, and may take note of when they review your application. However, do not be afraid to talk to representatives from schools you have never heard of because you might end up liking it a lot more than other schools you researched.


Act Casual

More than anything, the discussion between you and a college representative is nothing more than a conversation. So don’t treat it as if it’s an interview that your whole future depends on. Act casually, and speak to them like they’re actual people that you’re interested in speaking to. This doesn’t mean that you should rest your feet on a table and share a joke or two with them, however. It’s just important to keep in mind that these people are just here to help you; nothing more, nothing less.

So just keep in mind that college representatives are simply sources of information about particular schools, and there's absolutely no harm in speaking with them. You'll probably leave the college fair with so much more information than you expected if you do.



The "Getting In" Podcast: Why It's Worth the Listen



If you haven’t heard, Getting In is a podcast by Slate Magazine’s Panoply podcast network, and it’s all about the college admissions process. Hosted by Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University, this podcast is a gold mine for anybody who wants a closer look at the college admissions process.

The podcast follows the path of a group of high school seniors throughout their last year of high school… in real time. Everything is unfiltered, and it’s refreshing to see the ups and downs of each student. This podcast is as real as it gets. It’s described as “your college admissions companion,” and I would highly recommend the podcast to high school juniors, who will make the most of the advice. And here’s why.

 The Emotions:

The most memorable episode of Getting In was when one of the seniors opened her response letter from her dream school and recorded it. I could definitely tell she was nervous, and I felt it with her. And then I felt it even more as she read off her own rejection. That’s what makes the podcast all so real. Each senior in the group has their own character, background, goals, and struggles. After all, they are all real students going through a momentous part of their lives. This feature resonates with me because it’s all so relatable.

The Advice:

In the college application process, almost nothing is definite. But it’s reassuring to have tons of advice from college experts; Getting In provides just that. As a companion to the main episodes with student check-ins, the podcast includes Q&A sessions with former college admissions officers and college counselors of highly esteemed schools. All advice can be validated by experts with years of experience under their belts. All sorts of questions are answered about extracurriculars, future planning, test-optional schools, interviews, financial aid, and so much more. The fact that most of the questions are asked by the seniors themselves or listeners who have called in tops it all off because there were questions answered that I know I had.

The Message:

One of my favorite things about Getting In is the genuineness behind the message every expert is conveying. Over and over, they reiterate the same idea that getting into college isn’t about getting into the school your mom can brag about at family reunions. It’s about finding the right college for you, meaning a college you will excel at and love. This is too often overlooked by other sources of advice. There has to be something about a college that draws you to it besides its prestige, and the podcast conveys this in an inspiring way. While still providing the information you need to get into prestigious schools, it advocates for a future with happiness and growth in the picture.

150908_GettingIn Listening to Getting In has been one of the best things I have done so far in my college applications process. The podcast has given me a new outlook on where I want to be in regards to college. I could not recommend this podcast more to any prospective students out there who are willing to take a quick listen!



 Photo Credit: slate.com