Updated: Oct 30
A college admissions ally is an individual, hopefully a college admissions officer, but not necessarily, in the admissions office of the college that you would like to attend. You can have an ally in every single college to which you plan to apply. Having an ally is can be the difference to getting into your first choice school, or not. College admissions allies are essential in helping your get into ivy league schools and getting into highly competitive schools.
I advise my clients to most certainly have an ally in each of your first choice colleges.
Why should you have a college admissions ally and how do you go about creating that relationship?
Let’s answer the first question first. A college admissions ally can be pivotal in your acceptance to your first choice school. As this person gets to know you through the relationship that you build with them, they start to become your champion. They’re cheering for you. They want you to be accepted, and more importantly, they want you to decide to attend their school.
Additionally, a college admissions ally can become helpful if you are waitlisted to a favorite school. This has been the case for numerous PCT clients. Also, you can reach out to your college admissions ally when it is time to negotiate merit scholarship awards. One of my clients was able to utilize the relationship that we built with his college admissions ally to not only be accepted to his first choice school after he had been put on the waiting list, but also to help quadruple the merit scholarship award he received. (Yup, the merit award went from $5000 per year to $20,000 PER YEAR!!! – that’s a huge ROI for Mom and Dad, as it certainly more than covered the CPT fees for SAT prep and college admissions coaching!)
Sometimes students feel reluctant about reaching out to admissions officers, fearing that being so forward or pushy might turn them off. I remind them that a college admissions officer’s job is to attract the very best possible students they can to their university. When you reach out to them and start building a relationship, you are actually making it easy for them to do their job, especially if you happen to be a very attractive candidate, according to their admissions standards. Having said that, I have had many students leverage this strategy with reach schools with enormous success. (In fact, almost all of my students are accepted into colleges for which they do not have the expected test scores or GPAs, because they are strategically guided through my 4 Step Method to Getting Into Your First Choice College.)
How Do You Build a Relationship with a College Admissions Officer?
Now to the second question. How do you build relationships with College Admissions officers in order to turn them into your Ally? There is no one formula I can teach you, as it’s different for most schools and students. But it starts with making sure you have the contact information of the college admissions officers. And this goes back to the blog I wrote for Step One of this four part series: college visits. I always remind my clients to please make that when they go on their college visits that they collect the business cards or contact information from every single person that they come into contact with, whether they are a college admissions officer, who is a key decision-maker in the admissions process by the way, or simply the student representative who gives the campus tour. You just never know who is pivotal in the decision making!
And there are other ways to make a connection with these individuals. For example, most states and regions have college fairs. I highly recommend that my clients attend at least one. It is an opportunity to visit multiple colleges in a short amount of time and speak directly with admissions officers. Again, don’t forget to grab those business cards and contact info!
Then comes the art of when to reach out, how often, and what to say in your email. As with the process of how to connect, this step is also a delicate balance that can be different from student to student. I advise that my clients get what I call a volley going back-and-forth. I coach them in the process of writing an email that gives just enough information but not too much so that there’s more to share in later conversation and how to create a hook that will get the admissions officer to reply to your email.
Creating college admissions allies is a delicate balance of push forward and pull back; bate and and hook. It is an art form that not only has enormous impact when trying to get into your favorite schools, but it also teaches young people how to be their own advocate, a soft skill that will continue to benefit them long after the college admissions process is complete.
If you would like to learn more about my 4-Step Method for Getting into Your 1st Choice College, mark your calendar for November 28. Dr. Donna will be presenting once again on this topic at The Weston Public Library.
Want to talk directly to Dr. Donna about your child? Click here to book your complimentary Parent Discovery Call.
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Dr. Donna Risolo is the owner and principal tutor of College Prep Tutors, a boutique College Admissions firm serving students since 2005. Dr. Donna has helped hundreds of teenagers get into their first choice college and many with substantial scholarship awards regardless of parent income. She earned her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in NYC. When not engaged in her passion project of helping teens realize their full potential, Dr. Donna also works as an educational consultant, guiding public and independent schools in best educational practices, admissions and fundraising, strategic and school improvement planning, mission, purpose, and vision, parent and stakeholder engagement, and organizational culture building.