The email itself may be perfectly innocuous… or it may just have cost you in the admissions process. Let’s break it down so you can determine when and how it is most appropriate to communicate with the admissions office.
Everything is considered
It is fair to assume that every piece of correspondence you have with admissions will be added to your application file. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Every piece of correspondence. Phone conversations are captured, emails are filed, social media posts are copied, front desk chats are noted.
If you contact admissions too frequently, they may perceive you as needy, unconfident, entitled. If your style is too casual, they may question your maturity, or how you will handle yourself during job recruiting. If your correspondence is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, they’ll be concerned about your communication skills, your proficiency.
Ask yourself: does the contact you’re about to make reflect the level of professionalism that the rest of your application does? That you do? If not, think twice about moving forward.
Is it necessary?
OK, let’s assume that your email was written professionally and beautifully… about an issue that you could have resolved by spending 30 seconds on the admissions website. Despite your grammatical prowess, you may have now told the admissions committee that you lack attention to detail, resourcefulness, independence. Will this in and of itself get you rejected? Not likely. Will it make a favorable impression? No, it will not.
As with all aspects of the application, begin by doing your homework. It’s as much a lesson in sound admissions practice as it is in leadership, and in life.
Does it need to come from “you?”
Is your question specific to your candidacy, or is it general in nature? If the latter, here’s a little trick. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone and making an anonymous inquiry. No need to be overly dramatic about it. Just call the main number and say, in your most friendly and professional voice, “Good morning. Would you please help me resolve a question that I was unable to find the answer to on your website?” The person answering the phone isn’t out to get you; he or she won’t demand (or even think to ask for) your name if it isn’t relevant. And it will accomplish keeping the sticky notes in your file down to a minimum.
The aforementioned guidance still applies, however. Do be respectful of the admissions officers’ time and avoid asking questions that you can easily find the answers to yourself. And always be kind and professional to the person on the other end of the phone. Even when your name isn’t attached to the call.
Reflect yourself well
Ultimately, if you have an appropriate reason to contact the admissions office, then by all means reach out to them. They’re glad to help you however they can, and you’ll undoubtedly find a warm and helpful staff member eager to respond. Simply remember that every touch point with admissions is a reflection of you. So put your best foot forward at every turn—whether in writing, in person, or on the phone. And enjoy the ride as best you can. With any luck, the admissions officers will be the ones calling you at the end of the process.
[For personalized advice on MBA admissions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org]
© Hillary Schubach, April 3, 2013, 4:13 pm MT