What Exactly Do College Admissions Officers Do?
College admissions officers are the front lines not only for their schools.Those of you who work in traditional businesses might consider the college admissions officers to be the sales force. If you are already into the college search, you’ve probably seen college admissions officers at college fairs or during your campus visits. Ideally, they should have a near-encyclophediac knowledge of their school (too many don’t). They should be able to arrange contacts on campus for you (most do this well).
What else do college admissions officers do?
They recommend who should be offered admission.
For the most part, they will review applications based on what they told you at the college fair and in the marketing materials. This includes academic profile, test scores, recommendations, extracurricular accomplishments and essays. If the school is reasonably selective, the admissions officers cannot tell you about your chances of getting in. They can only share statistics that have been approved for public release.
They have to fill, not significantly overfill or under-fill the incoming class.
Too many spaces available means too little money. Over-enroll and the school has to scramble to find housing. It will also need to add class sections.
They have to consider the make-up of a freshman class as well as space available for transfer students.
They are usually looking for ethnic, geographic and racial diversity.
Their performance is tied to a revenue goal.
Admissions officers love to give good news about acceptances and scholarships. However, they must also consider net tuition revenue. This is total revenues from tuition less any discounts (aka scholarships) the school has awarded to accepted students. They do their best to provide affordable educational opportunities to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. But they need more students who can cover most, if not all, of the school’s costs.
They consider the recommendations of others.
“Others” include sports coaches and arts faculty who want exceptionally talented students on their campuses. Coaches or teachers might have give a “thumbs up” to their talents. But the admissions officers have to consider the student’s academic record and promise.
They take the blame when the school loses a student after the freshman year
College students leave school for reasons other than family matters, finances and illness. Success comes when you get a class that is able to graduate, the majority on time.
Being a college admissions officer can sometimes be a very stressful job.
I’ve met an inordinate number of admissions officers who manage to remain cheerful in spite of the stress. Now that you know the pressures they’re under, I’d like to provide some tips for working with them.
- Be polite, respectful, but not fawning, when you speak to an admissions officer who represents your “dream” or “target” school. S/he wants you to provide a successful application. No college admissions officer takes pleasure in denying admission to anyone.
- Be polite and respectful to college admissions officers who represent your “safe” schools. That might be the school you end up choosing.
- Contact the college admissions officer assigned to your application after you have submitted it to confirm that has been received and is complete. If the application is incomplete, get the information she needs and send it in a timely manner.
- Never, ever curse or say anything nasty when mistakes have been made or your application has been denied. Every admissions office has an administrative assistant or admissions officer who has been around long enough to have friends within the office. If the receptionist or administrative assistant complains about an applicant, I assure you that the complaint will be noted and remembered before an admissions decision is rendered.
- Thank the college admissions officer who helped you if you get an outcome you really like. You’ll make your first friend on campus and brighten their day.
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