A reader asks: I read with interest your last column about college admission. However, I am not certain how one contacts a college prior to sending the application. Attending a group tour and information session isn't really a personal contact. Please give me more specific ways to let schools know I am interested. AM
There are many ways to demonstrate personal interest in a college. You can email or call the undergraduate admissions department and find out the name and contact information of your regional representative. Contact him or her directly and indicate your interest in applying. Ask to be placed on the mailing list. The overwhelming majority of colleges hire regional representatives to cover specific regions of the US. Each individual has responsibility for a particular state/region and he or she sets up visits to each high school in the region, usually hosted by the high school's college and career counselor or other administrator. A high school typically announces the dates and times of these visits on their website, in the school bulletin, and posts hard copies in the school counseling office or main office.
In addition to high school visits, some representatives may join together and offer presentations as a team. These teams often share something in common, usually geographic proximity to one another, like the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes reps from different schools will team up and provide a presentation even if their colleges are not located in the same area of the country. For example, they may present together if they represent a specialty area, like technology. These events are advertised on the schools' websites (try searching regional visits/regional presentations); since you must register to attend, this is considered a personal contact.
Finally, college fairs are usually held in the winter and spring. College fairs are a great way of getting better acquainted with schools that attract your interest. Each regional rep from a college reserves a table at these fairs with the objective of offering students an opportunity to ask questions, add their names to mailing lists and collect printed information like guidebooks.
Elizabeth LaScala, Ph.D. is an educational consultant and certified college admission advisor. Her goal is to help freshman applicants as well as transfer students and their families understand the admissions process, research college and career options, create a balanced college list and submit strong and cohesive applications. She is familiar with local high schools and has guided three daughters through the college admissions process in addition to more than 300 clients. Dr. LaScala is an active member of NACAC, WACAC, and HECA and earned a certification in College Admissions and Career Planning from University of California at Berkeley. Contact her at (925) 891-4491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.