If you aren’t familiar with college rep days, they’re a great opportunity to jump-start your college search right in the halls of your own high school. During a college rep day, admissions representatives from various colleges and universities will gather in your school at specific dates and times to answer your questions about applications, give you the inside scoop on the school and provide information on how to contact important people on campus. While many of the fall college rep days are geared toward seniors working on applications, most schools allow sophomores and juniors to attend these sessions as a way to begin exploring their options for after high school graduation.
While walking into a room full of admissions representatives may seem intimidating, college rep sessions are easy to navigate when you know what information you’re looking for. In an effort to make your college rep day experience as painless as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the four most important questions to ask admissions reps.
1. “Are there any admissions requirements outside of the standard application?”
While the Common App has streamlined the college application process, not all applications have identical requirements. When speaking with a college admissions rep about the school’s application, find out if they require any additional materials or actions.
For example, many schools may require an extra essay (in addition to the general Common App one) if you’re applying to a specific academic program. Similarly, an application to a fine arts program may require portfolio submissions.
“I knew I was going to major in art education and that you had to be accepted into the school of art [in order to major in art],” says Capriella Fenicle, a freshman at Ball State University. “I had to bring in my five best pieces [from high school] to the school’s portfolio day as an additional part of the application process.”
Some schools even require that all applicants seeking admission be interviewed by admissions officers or notable alumni. Ask now and take note of the deadlines so you don’t find yourself stressed out by last-minute surprise requirements!
2. “What are some lesser-known scholarship opportunities that you wish more students would apply for?”
While asking about scholarships in general may seem like a no-brainer, take this opportunity to ask about the financial opportunities that may not be advertised on the school’s website or may be harder to find. Some schools use your general application to automatically consider you for scholarships, but others require a separate scholarship application entirely.
Additionally, there are more than just academic scholarships available, so research your options online and know which ones you qualify for ahead of time, whether it’s athletic or artistic opportunities, outside scholarships offered by organizations in your community or scholarships based on your financial need. Making a list of the scholarships you plan to apply for (along with their due dates) is the best way to stay organized and ensure you don’t miss out on anything important.
Scholarships can be awarded to students for anything from extracurricular involvement to eye color—the opportunities are endless! Discussing scholarships with an admissions rep is a great way to get personalized advice and learn about opportunities relevant to you and your specific financial situation.
“[When considering scholarships], I asked an admissions representative about what the odds were of actually receiving a scholarship, when I would be notified about receiving a scholarship and all the logistics of it,” says Anna Burse, a freshman at Indiana University. “You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions [about scholarships], because you have absolutely nothing to lose.”
3. “What are the students like?”
Or, even more specifically: What kind of personalities can be found on campus? How well do students from different disciplines interact? While these questions may be easy to answer yourself after going on a campus visit and interacting with real students, discussing them with an admissions representative is a great way to get a feel for the school’s environment ahead of time and to find out whether or not it’s a good fit for you. The insight of an admissions representative is crucial when it comes to questions like these that don’t have quantitative answers.
4. “What makes this college distinctive?”
Almost every college or university has one or two trademark features that makes it stand out amongst the crowd. Whether it’s the acres of fall foliage on the gorgeous campus, the nationally ranked business school, the dominant Greek life or the legendary basketball team, give the admissions rep a chance to brag about the place he or she knows best.
“I found talking to admissions representatives [about what makes their school special] to be extremely beneficial,” says Rachel Golliher, a freshman at Taylor University. “The people sent [to your high school] know their respective schools really well, so it’s easy to quickly get questions answered about what they have to offer.”
Even if you already know about the school, hearing about what makes it special from the perspective of a passionate admissions rep will only make you more psyched to check out the campus for yourself. Regardless of size or location, every school has something unique to offer. The conversation could also help you stand out from the crowd in the admission rep’s mind, which could come in handy if you stay in contact with him or her as you move forward in the application process.
While preparing questions is a great way to ensure you’ll get the most out of your college rep day, don’t be afraid to approach an admissions rep on the spot just to chat. Their job is to help you be as informed and prepared as you possibly can be to conquer the college application process, so take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and insight they have to offer.
Do your background research, have an idea of what interests you and make alist of schools to help you stay organized. While deciding on a college can be a stressful process, college admissions reps are there to help you every step of the way—and what better place to get in touch with them than your own high school?