Hey there! It’s about the season when colleges begin releasing their decisions and awarding grants — a bit of a payoff after all the work you’ve done getting in. But with these grants and decisions probably comes a new round of questions: is there a chance you could get a little more grant money, if that would allow you to attend a certain university? You’ve been waitlisted; is there anything you can do to improve your chances? Could be you just want to ask a few questions that will help you narrow down your decision-making process.
We’ll go over how best to email an admissions officer, whether your concern is trivial or vital to your decision. To summarize this article in one line: be polite, precise, and to the point. State your concern or question in as clear a way as possible, and use basic etiquette. That’s really all!
We recommend that you draft your email right now, then let it sit as you read the rest of this blog. When you’re done reading, edit (but don’t over think!), then send it off!
Dos and Don’ts of Emailing an Admissions Officer
Do make sure you are emailing the right department — if your university has a financial aid department, that’s where you direct financial aid and grant questions. If you have a question about making a sports team, go to the sports director. If not, the admissions department will probably direct you to go there anyway.
Do remember that admissions officers, and in fact all college staff, are only human! They know that you’re a student with limited experience in the field of professional email-writing. They’re most likely busy with a lot of student queries, as well as their other administrative tasks, so your admissions decision won’t hang on a missing comma or dangling participle.
Do be polite. Begin your letter with Dear (first and last name, or ‘admissions department’), and adding a thank you for your time at the bottom is always a nice thing to do.
Do be quick and simple. A one-line email is better than three paragraphs describing why you are the best fit for that university or why you deserve more money. Admissions officers are busy, and they won’t want to feel like you’re wasting their time. If you can shorten it, do shorten it.
Don’t write an email with a demanding tone — even if you think they’re wrong, and you’re right! It’s best practice to be professional and polite.
Don’t email asking something that you could find on your own. For example, a question about whether there is a ski team, or how much the overall tuition is, could both be satisfied by a simple google search.
How Do You Email an Admissions Officer?
The first step for how to email a university admissions office is, of course, finding an email address to send to. Generally this can be found on the admissions page, or, if you are looking to email one officer in particular, under the staff directory.
Now, draft your email. Remember to be short and sweet.
Let it sit for a few minutes, then read it over, checking for obvious typos, and making sure your tone is somewhat professional.
Then send it! It may feel monumentous, but it’s just another blip in that admissions officer’s day.
What Should You Email an Admissions Officer?
In this time of year, there are three main reasons one might email an admissions officer. First, you may be sending a formal email to a university, asking for admission, if you have been waitlisted or rejected. Second, you may be sending an email regarding financial aid. Third, you may be choosing between colleges, and you have a specific question which will help you decide. We’ll go over financial aid here, and take a look at asking for admission in the section below.
University in America is pricey, even public institutions. It’s common for a student’s “demonstrated need” to be different from their actual need; that is, the amount of money that you are offered may not be enough for you to actually afford that university. If that is the case for you, it is perfectly reasonable to write an email to the financial aid office explaining your situation — sometimes they may give you more grants! It never hurts to ask.
When doing this, you want to be brief and to the point. Explain your family’s financial situation — especially if there has been a recent change, such as a parent losing their job. Then, express your desire to attend that institution, and ask if there is any way you could receive more money in grants or loans.
Also, remember that you don’t have to be committed to a school to ask for more money. You can be honest that you want to go to that school, but will not be able to attend if you don’t have the scholarships.
Another common financial aid query is whether one university will match the aid gifted to you by another university. For example, if College X offers you a package where your total cost would be $5000 per year, but College Y offers a package of $3000 per year, you can email College X requesting more aid, so that they ‘match’ College Y. You may be denied, of course — but they might give you more funding, too.
If you have been accepted into multiple universities and are emailing the admissions office with questions which will help you decide where to go, lucky you! You can phrase your email however you like, because unless you confess to virulent drug use and cheating, the admissions officer you write to won’t rescind your admission.
Now let’s talk about asking for admission:
Does Emailing an Admissions Officer Increase Chances of Getting In?
This is a tricky thing to answer — like many aspects of the college admissions process, there’s no open source data here. Colleges don’t release how many students emailed them, or whether that correlated with those students being admitted. We can only work off of logic and anecdotal evidence. With that said, let’s talk about whether you should email that college and ask for admission.
If you have been waitlisted for your dream college, and you would definitely choose that college over any institutions you have been admitted to, then it’s worth it to let that college know. Colleges are trying to fill their freshman classes, as more freshmen means more income in tuition. In this case, letting a college know that you are their number one choice, and that you will attend if granted admission, may bump you up on the waitlist.
If you have been rejected from a university, especially one which has a waitlist, then getting admitted based on an email is frankly a long shot. Go ahead, as there’s nothing to lose, but it might be better to look at the colleges you did get accepted into and see what excites you about them.
One thing to watch out for here: avoid sounding rude or demanding. You have worked extremely hard to get where you are, and it’s easy to feel frustrated if you haven’t gotten in to all the colleges you hoped to. That’s totally understandable. It is important, however, to curb that frustration when dealing with a college you hope to get in to — rubbing an admissions officer the wrong way won’t help you.
But again, this is just an estimate. Colleges all function differently. Some universities let out long waitlists, so the chance of getting in if you have been waitlisted is very low. Other universities have numbered waitlists and allow you to email or call to ask where you are on the waitlist — if you’re second in line, you might as well stay on and see if you get admitted!
And remember, your college does not define you! If you didn’t get in, it feels great to toss out that rejection letter, hold your head up high, and appreciate the places that you were admitted to. Opportunities abound wherever you are.
Sample Email to a College Admissions Office
Here is an example of an imaginary student asking for admission to her dream school, the prestigious University X.
Dear University X Admissions Office,
Hello! My name is Maria Gonzalez. I was waitlisted for the Class of 2024, so I am writing to ask what place I am on the waitlist. University X is my top choice for university, and if admitted, I would definitely choose to go to University X over any of my other schools.
Thank you for the time and work that goes in to the admissions process. I look forward to hearing from you.
The email and phone number at the bottom aren’t really necessary — they already have your email — but it adds a professional touch. Completely optional.
Wrapping Things Up: Ultimate Guide to Emailing Admissions Offices
In summation, when emailing an admissions officer, just be polite, direct, and professional. Ask for what you want, thank them for their time, and then — here’s the hard part — hit ‘send.’
As students, it’s easy to over think emails, to edit furiously and prune and polish the language. That’s natural: you’ve worked hard to get where you are, to apply to all the colleges you did, and it feels now as if everything hangs on this one email.
Just remember that your email isn’t meant to stand out — your admissions officer has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of student emails, and if yours is one of the bunch, that’s probably a good sign. If you seem earnest and genuine, and not demanding or overbearing, then you’ve done your job.
But what if you don’t get to go to University X? Who will love you if you don’t have an Ivy League degree?
You probably don’t want to hear this just now, but it’s okay. Your life will be filled with love and joy no matter which college you go to. You’ll meet new people, push your boundaries, and discover new opportunities. You’ll eat ramen in the bathtub at 2 a.m. You’ll have awful teachers and needlessly long essays, reading assignments you’ll try to get done half an hour before class. You’ll make friends, and mistakes, and memories. University X cannot take that away from you.
So bite your lip, and send that email.
If you found this post helpful, you may also want to check our post on how to write a letter to a college admissions office here and why do colleges send letters here.
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