Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Writer & Blogger

My name is Melissa and I’m a longtime admission professional, personal finance writer, editor  and parent of two (very!) busy kiddos. I couldn’t make it all happen without my husband, Steve.

I hatched my site because I’ve heard so many head-scratching questions from parents. I’ve journeyed in the footsteps of hundreds of families, trekked to dozens of college fairs and even weighed the (billions?) of college savings options for my own two kiddos.

What does an Admissions Counselor do?

by | Dec 28, 2019 | Ask the admission office | 0 comments

If you’re a high school student, you get gobs of emails, texts, letters, postcards and other forms of communication from colleges and universities. How many of these are from an admissions counselor? Communication with students and families is part of what an admissions counselor does.

So, what else does an admissions counselor (sometimes called admission counselor), do? Great question. 

What is an admissions counselor?

The primary role of an admissions counselor is to make sure you get all the answers you need during the admission process. Above all else, an admission counselor is a relationship-builder.

Admissions counselors typically have a territory that they manage. In fact, most admissions offices divide up the entire country into different territories. They’re in charge of meeting as many people as possible in that territory — at high schools, college fairs and more. They’ll look wherever they can target interested prospective students. 

Admission counselor responsibilities

Here’s a list of admissions counselors’ typical responsibilities:

  • Create an individual recruitment plan and visit high schools in their assigned territories.
  • Encourage students to apply.
  • Contact students who have applied to encourage them to submit transcripts, submit ACT scores or SAT scores or encourage them to finish their application.
  • Say, “Visit campus!” to every student they meet (till they lose their voices).
  • Participate in visit days, scholarship events and more.
  • Attend college fairs.
  • Greet students from their territory when they visit.
  • Read applications for admission and have a heavy hand in who is admitted — although this responsibility varies at each school.
  • Be available to answer questions during financial aid season. 
  • Plan visit events on campus or help train student tour guides.
  • Give tours of campus as needed.
  • Adhere to college-wide enrollment goals.
  • Collaborate with the alumni office to identify prospective students whose parents are alumni.
  • Develop a database of administrators, teachers and other contacts to develop a network.
  • Serve as an ambassador for the college or university they represent.

Admissions counselors wear many hats. But their most important jobs are to provide outstanding customer service, develop relationships with families and promote the college or university in a positive manner. They’re expected to be “Rah-rah!” ambassadors. 

How to work with your admissions counselor

You might be wondering how you’re supposed to interact with your admissions counselor. Let’s say you’re interested in a school and you have a thousand questions. Don’t rely on the internet alone to supply your answers. Get in touch with your admissions counselor — that’s why they’re around!

Step 1: Contact your admissions counselor.

You have an admissions counselor at each college or university you’re interested in. How do you know who your admissions counselor is? Simple. First, go to the admissions website of the college or university you’re thinking about attending and click on “Admission” or “Admissions.” You’re often able to click on the state you live in or click on an icon that says “Meet Our Admissions Counselors.” Every school is a little bit different. However, once you’ve zeroed in on who your admission counselor is, call or email him or her.

Why should you contact your admissions counselor? Here are a few reasons: 

  1. Your admissions counselor will be able to answer any questions you have — and he or she will have insider information. Let’s say you want to know which residence hall is best. Your admissions counselor will be able to guide you.
  2. He or she will be able to help you through your application. That thing’s a beast. Get some help with it.
  3. There will be a friendly face on campus when you visit. Let’s say you’re visiting a school that’s all new to you. Wouldn’t it be great if your favorite admissions counselor was there to greet you?
  4. You could find out about extra scholarships. What if there are extra scholarships or other awards? Wouldn’t it be nice if that admissions counselor would be able to advocate for you?
  5. You may be on the bubble academically and an admissions counselor can advise you. Let’s say your GPA doesn’t exactly fit the college or university’s requirements. Your admissions counselor may have some advice about boosting your profile. While he or she shouldn’t guarantee your admission if you’re nowhere near the admission requirements, he or she could offer alternative suggestions — including a semester at community college first. 
  6. Your admissions counselor will be able to help you arrange your ideal college visit. Want to connect with the men’s soccer coach? Hobnob with the top oboe instructor on campus? Your admissions counselor could be the key — admissions counselors usually know a lot of people on campus. 
  7. An admissions counselor can set you up for success at the school you ultimately choose to attend. A good admissions counselor should make you want to go to that particular school.

Step 3: Meet with your admissions counselor when you visit.

Whether you’re looking into large state universities or liberal arts colleges, meeting with your admissions counselor is a must-do when you’re on campus. Hopefully, you’ll have already contacted your admission counselor a few times before your visit.

Next, make sure you work a face-to-face meeting into your schedule. Ask the campus visit coordinator that you call to make sure you have a one-on-one visit with your admissions counselor on a personal campus visit. Even if you do a group visit, find out if you can meet with your admissions counselor at the end of the visit day. If you sign up for a visit online, be sure a personal visit is worked in with the admissions counselor.

Step 4: Ask your admissions counselor questions on your visit. 

Admissions counselors conduct meetings with families in many different ways. Meetings might happen in a large conference room, an office or even after a visit day in an auditorium. No matter where it occurs, an admissions counselor’s overall goal is to answer your questions and get to know you.

It should be a friendly, relaxed conversation and you should be able to ask any questions you have. Not sure which questions to ask? That’s normal. But it’s a good idea to write down some questions you may want to ask ahead of time.

Finally, here are some questions (in specific categories) you might want to ask your admissions counselor on a visit.

Admission requirements

  • What ACT/SAT scores do I need to attend your college?
  • Should I aim for a certain grade point average? What are the requirements?
  • Do I need to submit an essay or letters of recommendation? If so, what are the requirements?
  • Are there any other admission requirements I need to be aware of?

Financial aid and scholarships

You might want to meet with a financial aid professional in addition to your admissions counselor. However, if you can’t get an appointment with someone in the financial aid office, admissions counselors are well-versed in most financial aid topics and should be able to walk you through an award letter or answer basic questions about scholarships and loans. Here are some questions you may want to ask: 

  • What is the tuition, room, board and fees at this school?
  • How much does tuition increase each year? Do scholarships increase to match the change?
  • What scholarships can I qualify for? How do I qualify for them?
  • Can I receive grants? If so, what are the requirements?
  • How do loans work and how do I apply for them?
  • Are there interviews or auditions for certain scholarships?
  • Can I apply for talent-based scholarships?

Majors

  • Do professors have an open-door policy? How accessible are they?
  • Are teaching assistants or professors the ones who teach the classes?
  • What are class sizes like?
  • Can you tell me about the [insert name] major?
  • Tell me about academic support services here.

Social life and other activities

  • What types of clubs and organizations can I get involved in?
  • What’s the social life like on campus? What do students do for extracurricular activities?
  • What would you change about this college or university?
  • Do students usually attend sporting events, theatre events or more?
  • How many students study abroad? Is it a popular thing to do? How is study abroad structured here?
  • Is it easy to manage a collegiate athletic career and academics? How do coaches approach academics and athletics here?

Note: Your admissions counselor should never put down other schools, coerce you into going to that particular college or promise scholarships or other aid that doesn’t exist. He or she shouldn’t do anything that will make you uncomfortable. If it happens, alert the director of admissions at that particular institution.

What should I do if my admissions counselor is MIA? 

Most admissions counselors want to get to know you. This is usually evidenced by their friendly, outgoing personalities and enthusiasm for the university/college you’re thinking about attending. But occasionally, you’ll run into an admission counselor who’s a dud. In that case, you’re going to miss out on a relationship-building opportunity.

When you get a job, it’s often who you know, not what you know. It’s the same when you’re getting your foot in the door at a college. You never know — your admission counselor could introduce you to the professor who ends up being your mentor and friend even beyond your college years.

In other words, you want your admission counselor to know you so he or she can advocate for you. Let’s say you’ve interviewed for a scholarship and it’s a tie between one other student and you. Your admission counselor knows you really well but nobody really knows the other student. Who do you think will get the scholarship?

Obviously, this is a fictional outcome, but why not take advantage of all that an admission counselor can do for you? It’s his or her job to cater to you. 

Get to know your admissions counselor 

Whatever you do, try your hardest to develop a relationship with your admissions counselor. In this day and age, many high school students are resistant to building relationships.

Parents, encourage your student to get to know every admission counselor at every school he or she is considering. It’s obviously not all about squeezing the most services out of your admission counselor as you can. It’s really about getting to know a really cool person and even someone you can count on once you enroll in college. If you’re 1,000 miles away from your hometown (or even 50 miles away), it’s nice to know there’s someone in the admissions office you can trust.

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