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Articles / Applying to College / Good (and Bad) Questions to Ask Admission Offices

Good (and Bad) Questions to Ask Admission Offices

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 2, 2011

Question: Does Bryn Mawr College allow double majors?

Concentrate and ask again. But, this time, don't ask The Dean. If you want to know about double-majoring at Bryn Mawr …or if Connecticut College requires SAT's … or if the University of Miami has need-based aid for international students (etc. etc.), check Web sites first. Then try emailing or telephoning the admission office if you strike out on the Web.

Granted, asking college-admission questions can sometimes feel like consulting a Magic 8-Ball. Even when you get an answer, you're not always sure that it's reliable.

But some questions have simple, straightforward answers, and you shouldn't be fearful of going straight to the horse's mouth (usually admission offices) to get them. The Dean receives far too many school-specific, cut-and-dry queries that should have been directed to admission offices (or to different college departments) instead. These include:

-Does the University of Georgia have vegan entrees in the dining hall?

-Which is the best bus stop for the University of Toronto?

-If I send art slides to Grinnell, who actually sees them?

On the other hand, there are some questions that you probably DON'T want to ask admission offices … either because the question itself could reveal details that are best kept under your hat or because you're only going to get a party-line answer, not the straight scoop, from admission officials. These questions include:

-Does Harvard set a higher bar for Asian applicants? [“No, of course not!" Hmmm …. ]

- Will needing a lot of financial aid hurt my chances at Mount Holyoke? [“Mount Holyoke promises to meet the full demonstrated need of all students." (But if you're a borderline applicant, your need may be too great to meet, and you might be better off asking Gramps and Grammy to kick in, instead of asking for aid from the college.]

-Do I have to tell colleges that I was kicked out of summer camp last month for smoking pot in the arts & crafts hut? [You better hope that the admission office doesn't have Caller ID when you ask that one!]

By the way, I found Bryn Mawr's info on choosing majors after a 4-second Google search, which is much faster (and less annoying) than getting a lecture from The Dean. Seehttp://www.brynmawr.edu/deans/major_spec_info.shtml

The answer: Outlook good.

(posted 9/2/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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