“Take me down to the Pendaflex City, where transfers are green and red goes to committee.  Oh, won’t you please take a loan…”

College Reps.   Admissions Counselors.  Assistant Directors.  Senior Assistant Directors.

These are those smiling, friendly people with travel bags, rental cars and viewbooks who travel the globe (or at least your county) to provide you with relevant information to help you make an informed college decision.  Or at least provide you with some glossy literature and a free pen.

There is another side to these folks, however.  When the rental cars have been returned, they transform.  As the days get shorter in late Fall, they begin to review the lives of millions of teenagers, captured in Pendaflex cages or -ever more increasingly – scanned into electronic holding cells.  They study your grades, your courses, your test scores and your other application materials.  They try to determine:

Will Brad succeed at my college?  Heck if I know, Mr. Szarek.

What happened to Justin in sophomore year?  Uh, yeah, well, about that…

Was Caitlin actually involved in those 15 clubs or just a ‘joiner’?  Don’t they understand words like Captain and Executive Correspondence Secretary?

Who is Ashley?  Hey, if they find out, I hope they let me know.  ‘Cause I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I offer you, in true blog fashion, these 6 tips for you to make sure that these cheerful gatekeepers remain cheerful – and open the gates – when they review your application for admission.

1) Treat them as a person. – These are human beings who like connecting with people.  It’s why they got into College Admissions in the first place.  Connect with them.  Take their business cards.  Remember their name.  Say hi when they return for your high school’s College Night or you see them again at an Open House.  Send a “thank you” email after your campus visit.  It’s a lot harder to deny admission to someone you know – and someone you like.  By the same token, it’s also a lot easier to recommend a leadership grant or scholarship to such an individual.

2) Submit materials in a timely manner. – Admissions folks are usually facing tight schedules and juggling different facets of their job.  Don’t make them wonder about your interest.  And don’t make them wait for your file to be complete after they’ve reviewed hundreds of other files – and after they’ve already turned their attention to coordinating a Campus Visit Day or a Spring Travel schedule.  Part and parcel with this is…

3) Play by their rules. – It makes their life easier.  It shows respect for them and their institution.  It means they don’t have to fight for an exception, for you, with their Dean.  It makes it easier for them to like you.

4) But do so with enthusiasm and creativity. – If all you do is follow their rules, but show no evidence of what makes you tick, what makes you exciting, what will make you a valuable member of their college community, then you’ve not done your job as an admission candidate.  Make your essay and interviews interesting (in a constructive way, not a goofy “this might end up on reality TV” kinda way).   Show spirit, show passion.  Show that you matter.

5) Tell a coherent story. – As you show passion and meet deadlines and follow their rules, and submit essays and supplemental documents, and letters of recommendation, and come in for an interview – make sure it all makes sense.  These documents, in addition to the transcript and test scores should all be pieces to a puzzle.  Take that analogy to heart.  Puzzle pieces FIT together.  If you did struggle sophomore year, your explanation in your essay should match your explanation in the interview.  If you have a passion for a certain field of study, you can’t – 45 minutes into the interview – then start talking about another field with equal passion.  Be real, be honest, be consistent.

6) Meet them, greet them, know them. – In many ways, this is echoing suggestion #1.  But, I place it here to emphasize that the best situation for you, as an admission candidate, is to utilize the Admission Counselor’s unique role as liaison.  No one you meet has a better awareness of both sides of the coin – the college and the candidate.

Meet them, greet them, know them.  The hands you shake will soon be holding a folder with your name on it or clicking on the electronic version thereof…

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

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