Professional Etiquette: How to Communicate Effectively with College Staff and Faculty

October 19, 2020

If you're a teenager in America, you've probably spent quite a bit of time communicating in front of a screen. Whether you're Snapchatting your friends, texting acquaintances, or making TikToks, you're constantly projecting language from your fingertips to the rest of the world.

But so far, you've been considered a kid. For the most part, these communications have not been assessed and scrutinized (except by your parents), and the way you present yourself on someone else's screen hasn't necessarily impacted your future.

Cue the college search.

Suddenly, everything is different. You're talking to admissions representatives and college professors"”people who can determine whether or not you can go to your dream school. Those quickfire texts with no capitalization, punctuation, and emojis might make you seem unoriginal, childish, or even dull.

So how do you communicate with college professionals and present your best possible self?

1. Respond.

I became a college admissions counselor because I love helping students and I am passionate about communication. I also know how intimidating and overwhelming the college search can be. Sometimes, I send out texts or emails to check up on my students to spark a conversation.

If you're truly interested in exploring a school, consider opening communication lines with the admissions rep. When I can get to know a prospective student on a personal level, I can better help that student feel comfortable with their college decision. Maybe I can find scholarships tailored to you. Possibly, I can introduce you to faculty members or students with your shared interests.

Finally, even if you're not super interested in a college, responding to a message is still a way to be tactful, respectful, and mature.

2. Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar before hitting "send."

Just like you're encouraged to write your personal statement adhering to proper English conventions, you should do the same when corresponding with college staff members. Keep in mind that every correspondence with a college representative is an opportunity for you to showcase your communication skills.

It's also important for you to understand that how you present yourself in every way composes a holistic representation of who you are"”your future plans, your work ethic, and your personal values. If I send you, "Hi, John! Here is a link to register for a visit this fall. I hope to see you on campus soon!" and you respond with, "ok thx ill look into it", I don't get a clear idea on your intentions. Instead, take a minute to formulate a complete, non-abbreviated sentence to give a more mature impression.

Whenever you're corresponding with a professional adult, keep in mind that it's best to write as if you're being graded on it.

Also, be kind and show gratitude in all professional communication. Kindness and gratitude go a long way.

3. Be confident.

As you're exploring colleges, keep in mind that any communication with college staff is a two-way interview. While I want to get to know you to determine how I can help you, you are welcome to ask questions as well. You should feel empowered to ask the hard stuff. Questions like, "What is the hardest part about living on campus?" or "How can I maximize my financial aid offer?" are necessary and essential. For many of you, this is the first big life decision you will make. We understand it's important to thoroughly vet your admissions counselor to get an accurate picture of the school.

Displaying confidence in your communication also establishes a sense of maturity, responsibility, and intellect. While I am assessing whether you would contribute great things to our college campus, I am also looking at your general vibes and presence. Someone with confidence has leadership potential, which is huge.

I hope these pointers help you with communication as you continue looking at college options. Keep in mind that admissions counselors are here to help you. We understand how overwhelming this process is, and we know that there are many things you don't know. There are many things we don't know, too! And we're happy to find answers for you"”just reach out! That's what we're here for. 😊