Home » Admission Staff Development » It’s “go time” in #college #admissions: Are you prepared? Here are some questions to ask yourself. #highered

It’s “go time” in #college #admissions: Are you prepared? Here are some questions to ask yourself. #highered



The next six weeks involves the sprint to May 1, National Candidates Reply Date, and what has become the measure of success for many admissions offices nationwide. This time represents a mixture of emotions—ranging from exhaustion from reviewing files seven days and week, to the jubilation that results from a prospective student becoming a member of the Class of 2016. Whatever one’s feelings, the next six weeks can make or break an admissions officer’s success.

A few years ago I provided the admissions staff at Augustana College with a laminated card with 10 Questions they could ask themselves daily about their performance during this critical time of year. The questions themselves are not particularly innovative or cutting edge, but they serve as reminders of what is important during this time of year. I also hope they serve as motivators and guide best practices in shaping what admissions professionals do in an effort to close the class.

The little white card that I prepared for my colleagues includes the following

Am I doing everything I need to be to be successful?

  1. Are my questions to prospective students direct?
  2. Is the information I gather from a prospective student actionable?
  3. Is my message clear? Are my instructions clear?
  4. Is my follow-up timely and thorough?
  5. Is my customer service exemplary?
  6. Does my correspondence provide specific reasons to choose Augustana College?
  7. Is my communication timely and relevant?
  8. Is my counseling directive?
  9. Is my hunch informed?
  10. 10. Are my partners (faculty, staff, coaches, etc.) as informed and excited about Augustana as I am?

Is there anything on this list I need to do more effectively?

I find myself frequently pulling my own little laminated card out of my wallet to remind myself of these questions.  The light blue font on the beat up white card serves as a good reminder and a healthy motivator any time.

However, it all seems a lot more relevant and urgent now that the sprint to May 1 is underway.

What messages do you send during “go time.”

W. Kent Barnds a.k.a @bowtieadmission

P.S. If you stop me on the street and ask to see my card, I can assure you it is in my wallet as reminder of what I need to do to be successful and effective.


  1. It may be difficult for any admission officer to do, but it would be helpful to the prospective student and his parent to hear why your school is different.

    After last week’s 5-school road trip I have to say that the tour and information presentation varied only in “polish”; the messages were essentially similar. We met with admissions officers at 3 of the 5 schools and felt very good about our time with them. They were excellent at helping the boys relax (as much as they could at that age and stage of life–but I enjoyed the interaction) and were very open with questions, eliciting responses even from the 2 friends who had not put as much thought into their college expectations compared to my son.

    • bowtieadmission says:

      You make an excellent point…most colleges are not particularly effective at describing their distinctions. I do think “polish” is often a distinguishing characteristic, though. And, I bet you felt it, too. But, back to your point… Colleges generally struggle to make themselves stand out for a host of reasons; among the reasons our tendency to name “aspirants.” We spend more time trying to be like another college (or set of colleges) than we do trying to own a particular space. It is very odd, but I think higher ed operates in an environment where there is more envy for others than any other industry. Most other industries try to figure our a way to beat the competition!

      When you visit Augustana, I hope you would learn right away what distinguishes the student experience from other colleges.

      (I am happy to try briefly describe those difference if you are interested).

      Thanks again for your excellent insight and thoughtful observations about this complex process.

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