common app essay

What’s so special about email and why should you give it extra careful consideration? Well, each email you write is a reflection of you and your work. When an admissions officer opens your email, a new dimension is added to their understanding of you, your accomplishments, and your candidacy at their institution.

When I was an admissions officer, I received dozens of emails from prospective students each week. Many of the students who emailed me were students I had previously met, either during recruiting travel or an on-campus event. Just as many, though, were students whose names I was seeing for the very first time. No matter the depth of my relationship with the student, a single email had the power to add to, or detract from, what I knew about a student.

And that’s why it’s so important for you to take into careful consideration your emails to an admissions officer. Here are some tips on email, from the perspective of a former admission officer:

  • Do use a proper salutation. Some solid options include, but are not limited to: Dear, Hello, Greetings, Good afternoon, etc. And yes, your grandmother is correct: “hay/hey” is for horses and you should never begin an email to an admissions officer with this word.
  • Do use proper capitalization, spelling, and grammar. Think of email as you would a business letter; write out all words, double-check your spelling (and usage, like too, to, and two), and capitalize appropriate words. When I read sentences like, “can u tell me more about yr engineering degree?,” I can’t help but cringe and wonder how much effort a student is putting into their work.
  • Don’t forget to close your email with your full name and pertinent application details. I can’t even begin to count the number of times a student emailed to ask me about part of their college application, but included no application information, their name included! Make sure to identify yourself.
  • Do use a subject. For very busy admissions officers, the subject field helps them determine if the email should even be opened. Don’t leave it blank.

Email is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed, just like any other form of correspondence. Hundreds of years ago, you would have needed to present your inquiries in cursive, etched out with a quill and ink. Today, you’ve got spell check on your side. Take some time to get it right—the impression you leave can make a huge difference.


Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Abigail received her bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School. Visit our website to learn more about Abigail Anderson.