Should You Cold Call A College Admissions Office?


No matter where you are in the college admissions process, chances are you’re already sick of it. It’s a stressful waiting game and you can’t help but wonder if there’s anything else you can do to get that acceptance letter. Some pre-collegiettes are even driven to do crazy things—like this guy who sang his way off the Michigan waitlist and this dude, who dedicated a rap to Johns Hopkins. Cold-calling an admissions office may not be as bold of a move as recording a song, but it can be nerve-wracking nonetheless. When should you make the call and what should you say? Should you even make the call at all?  We talked to Michelle Podbelsek, co-owner of College Counseling Associates in California, to answer all those questions and more. With our tips, you can be sure that you won’t flub the call like this.

Is It Okay To Call An Admissions Office? 

Podbelsek confirms that it is “absolutely appropriate” in certain circumstances to call an admissions office. “You should mostly call for informational purposes—questions that are more immediate and information that cannot be obtained another way, or to report something significant,” she says. 

The part about the info being otherwise unobtainable is important. Admissions officers are busy people, so you definitely don’t want to bother them with questions that are obvious or easily answerable on the college’s website. Search thoroughly on the Internet, especially the school’s website, and read any letters or emails the college has sent you first. If you can’t find an answer, then you are totally entitled to call the office! 

Contrary to what you might think, Podbelsek actually advises against calling for the purpose of cajoling your way off the waitlist.

“I personally don’t feel it is a good idea to call to show interest if you are waitlisted,” Podbelsek says. Admissions offices must deal with a zillion applicants, so a call may not necessarily be documented or considered in the crazy-hectic process. “When a student calls they are usually not going to be directly connected with their appropriate admissions officer — and they may not be able to reach them at all,” Podbelsek says. 

Instead, Podbelsek advises, “the most appropriate way to show your strong interest in a college after you have applied or are on the waitlist is to put it in writing in a heartfelt letter.” 

But if you have a question, want additional information, or have something time-sensitive to inform the office about, then go for it! 

How Should You Do It?

First of all, you should make the call yourself! Parents can get a little psycho during the admissions process, but it looks better if you call instead of them because it shows that you are responsible and can take initiative. “It is actually great if a student feels comfortable calling the admissions office on their own,” Podbelsek says. “It is good practice for making that type of ‘professional’ call.” 

That doesn’t mean that your parents can’t help you though! “You can still get help and support from your college counselor and/or parent—maybe to plan out exactly what you are going to say and how to approach it,” Podbelsek says. Your college counselor is an especially good resource to utilize in this situation because he or she may know how specific colleges handle phone calls. 

Working with a parent, counselor, advisor, or any other adult to figure out if you should call and what you should say can help you formulate clear, coherent questions so that you’re not nervous. If you tend to clam up on the phone (we’re all so used to texting that it happens to the best of us), write out your questions beforehand and keep them in front of you so you have backup. Also keep a pen and paper nearby so that you can jot down important info! 

As with any conversation in the admissions process, you want to be articulate and friendly. Ditch the “likes” and “ums,” and be conscious of your voice and tone. You don’t want that high-pitched squeal you use to thank your grandma for the birthday present she sent you, but you also don’t want to sound bored or dull. Also, make sure you’re in a quiet room so that you can hear and be heard. Be confident and happy, and check out this guide to interviews for more advice on sounding professional.