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Connecting with Your VU Admissions Counselor

Posted by on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in Advice for Parents, Application Process, Preparing for College, Vanderbilt Blogs, Visiting Vanderbilt.

I just finished a book titled “Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer” where the advice was average at best, but the humor was timely.  Many of my students want me to have a face to put with their name, but in the quest to become real to me, a few students exhibit unreal behavior.  Examples include calling daily to the point where  their phone calls are harassing, sending unusual gifts in the mail (i.e. a pair of shoes), insisting on waiting to meet a counselor who won’t be available for the next five hours… you get the idea.

The question begs, how do you make a personal and effective connection with your admissions counselor?

Introduce yourself in person. I receive dozens of introductory emails each month.  I appreciate the sentiment, but retain little information from those emails.  There are multiple ways to meet us in the flesh, the first of which is the campus visit.  We are also world travelers  and if you can’t make it to us we will likely make it to you!

  • Check with your high school guidance office to see if we’ve scheduled a visit to your high school
  • Our admissions website is constantly updated with college fairs we plan to attend…see if we’re coming to your area this year
  • Sign up to attend one of our Road Show events in August

If after the above steps you still aren’t aware of opportunities to meet your admissions counselor, email them and ask them if they’ll be in your area.  After September 1st most officers will have their travel schedule set and if they don’t plan to visit an area near you, they’ll have advice on how to become more familiar with Vanderbilt (perhaps an alumni interview is an option).

What if you can’t meet one of our counselors in person for one reason or another?  Don’t fret!  Demonstrated interest is not part of the application review.

Make your interactions substantial. Here’s an example of a recent interaction I had which I would call unsubstantial:

Student: “Hi, my name’s Mary… I just wanted to introduce myself.”
Me: “Hi, Mary! I’m your admissions counselor to Vanderbilt.  How can I help you?  Do you have any questions about Vanderbilt?”
Student:  “No.”
Me: “Okay, how can I help you?”
Student: “Um… I just wanted to say hi.”
Me: “Oh, well, hi.”
**More awkward silence**

Creating a memorable persona to put with the name is the point of introducing yourself, but the interaction above is unmemorable and awkward.  Here’s an example of a more meaningful interaction:

Student: “Hi!  My name is Mary and I’m a student at LaPorte High School in Indiana.  I’ve done quite a bit of research on Vanderbilt and I know there are many study abroad opportunities, which is really exciting!  However, I was hoping you could clarify a few things: first, when do most Vanderbilt students go abroad, and secondly, is it possible to go abroad more than once?”
Me: [I delve into a brilliant response.]

In this second example, Mary impresses me with her initiative to do some of the leg work herself by researching Vanderbilt and then using me as a resource for higher-level questions.  This is a student I am likely to remember, particularly if she follows up on this interaction.

Investigate on your own first. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked questions such as, “How many students are there at Vanderbilt?”; “Is Vanderbilt a private institution?”; “Where is Vanderbilt located?”; or the dreaded, “Can you tell me about Vanderbilt?”.  Regardless of whether or not you believe stupid questions exist, I can tell you with certainty that some questions feel disrespectful.  Don’t ask for a counselor’s time unless you’ve put some time into the college search process.  Do the research first and then compile a list of higher-level questions and thoughts for discussion with us.  This will result in a great conversation and a positive experience on both ends.

Follow up when necessary. Email your counselor if you had a brief interaction at a high school or college fair and are planning to take next steps.  We appreciate knowing our job matters and has effect, so if you had a great experience with us and plan to move forward (i.e. visit campus or submit an application), let us know in a quick thank you email.  Send a hand-written note to the Vanderbilt admissions officer if you had a more lengthy conversation or meeting.  As the world becomes increasingly digital, these notes are more significant.

Wow!  That’s a great deal of information to digest.  Questions?  Ask.

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  • Dustin

    August 9th, 2010

    I have a question:
    Let’s say you are quite interested in Vanderbilt University and are an inquisitive person, but your counselor only comes to your area about once an academic year. After visiting the school and meeting with him/her, is it possible to ask too many questions by e-mail if you have searched out the answer yourself but failed come across it?

  • Kylie

    August 10th, 2010

    Dustin — If you are unable to find an answer to your question, by all means contact your admissions counselor! We want to make sure you have all the information you need. Try to ask multiple questions per email to make it easier on your counselor. Don’t refrain from emails, though, for fear of bothering us; we exist as an informational resource first and foremost.