This is a timely message to those of you in precollege programs or who will attend pre-college programs in future summers.
Imagine if someone from the college could get to know you personally how much of a difference it could make in a college admissions officer's ability to advocate for you. Believe me, you'll be far better off if a college admissions officer is advocating for you personally than if they are not.
Here are the three types of people you’ll meet during your summer program and how they can help you maximize your chances for admission - who knows? One of them might put in a good word for you!
Professors are really valuable resources. Get some alone time with them, if they’re willing, to talk about your interests and get their recommendations for people to reach out to on campus. You can set up meetings while you’re there or for later on in the fall, depending on your schedule. BUT don’t interrupt the program activities to attend these meetings as this might be disruptive to your summer experience.
Note: Some programs e.g. Stanford have an evaluation that’s provided to students at the end of the program. Others, like LBW at Wharton, don’t provide any kind of formal evaluation and are adamant about not providing students with letters of recommendation.
2. Current students.
May or may not attend the college where your summer program is hosted. Still, you can ask these students to provide insight on college life in general.
At your own risk: You might ask the student for a letter of recommendation or to send an email to the admissions office on your behalf. BUT keep in mind that the student may not have much experience writing recommendation letters and you don't know his/her reputation on campus.
3. Admissions Officers.
Big maybe on their willingness to meet with you - possibly reluctant out of “fairness” to other pre-college students. Proceed with caution when approaching and keep expectations low. Focus on your regional rep only.
So how to reach out? An initial email is a good way to start, like this one:
My name is ____, and I am a senior at ____High School in [City, State]. I am reaching out to you because I recently learned about and developed great interest in the [academic] Major at [University], and am almost certain that I will apply to this major.
Would you be willing and available to sit down with me for a brief (e.g. 15 minute) discussion? A couple of questions I’d like to ask, for example, are:
I will be on campus on [dates]. Is there a time that works well for you? Alternatively, do you have time for a brief phone conversation?
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Next steps: Start thinking about who you might like to connect with this week. Make a list of 5-7 names. Good places to start are department chairs, professors who are hosting classes you can visit, professors who teach you in the program, and admissions officers who are assigned to your region. Send the emails when ready.
Reply to this email if you need additional support. I can coach you on how to do this for your specific situation. Here's more about my one-on-one support.
Until next time…
Dr. Aviva Legatt