How to impress your college reps


photo courtesy of Kaitlin Tan

Colleges will send special emails and brochures to students who express specific interest about the institution at a college visit or fair.

Julia Henning, Online Editor

When entering the college process, it is common to feel unsure of how to approach a college representative at a school visit or a college fair confidently and professionally. Here are the steps you can take to put your best foot forward at college events: 

Plan for the visit or college fair

Communicate with your teacher if the meeting is during class, look at the school’s website, and put some thought into why you may consider applying to this university. Show up looking neat and clean and ready to learn about the university. “Don’t overthink it and don’t worry about it,” said Scottie Hill, Annie Wright Schools director of college counseling. “Bring yourself and your willingness to learn, and it’s their job to do the rest and make you feel comfortable. Before you apply, you have all the power, and they are hoping that they will say something that interests you enough to apply.”

If the university is visiting your school, there will be some sort of contact sheet to fill out when you enter the room. Say hello to the representative (if it seems appropriate), take a seat, and take a card. Colleges take those cards and put them in their database for students who have expressed interest. You will probably get more tailored emails and letters. 

Aubrey Weaver, assistant director of admissions at the University of Washington, said that she is impressed with students who are inquisitive and confident. “I appreciate it when students are prepared and curious,” she said. “If I’m visiting a high school, especially in Washington, I expect students to have questions about the University of Washington prepared in advance, and I expect students to be engaged in the visit or conversation. Additionally, introducing yourself with a confident smile and good eye contact goes a long way to start the conversation on the right foot.”

Put yourself out there

If you’re at a fair, walk up to the table, make eye contact, and say hello, the representative will take it from there. Vicki Pastore, associate director of admission at the University of Puget Sound, said, “Know that we are thrilled that [you] are there to talk with us. You’re going to interact with all kinds of college reps. They are all working for different institutions and they’re all individuals, so they are going to receive you in different ways. Don’t be nervous, because we are happy you’re engaging with us.”

Bring questions

“We’ll generally be able to carry the conversation, but obviously it’s much more interesting if we’re speaking to things the student cares about,” Pastore said. “It’s okay to ask about the average GPA for a student admitted at the university, but also consider more tailored and thoughtful questions rather than the ones you can find on the handouts.” Pastore’s biggest advice on what not to do is asking the representative to compare and contrast their institution to others, but the representative may ask where else you are applying to get to know what kind of environment you are looking for.

Stay in contact

If you like the institution, contact the college rep you met afterwards. Colleges love follow-ups because they show real interest in the school. College reps are very willing to answer any further questions that pop up afterwards.