The Geographic Representative in the Admission Office: Your New Best Friend

Psychologist and counselor Jeanette Spires joins us today as a monthly guest blogger to talk about geographic representatives in college admission offices and why it's a good idea to get to know them. 

Who is your new best friend?

Let’s assume that applying to college is much like applying for a job. On the way to a position, you may be evaluated by everyone from the receptionist to the waiter in the company cafeteria. Overlooking this fact can sink your chances. In the same way, here is someone in your path to college who deserves your full attention -- your geographic representative in the admission office.

Colleges, especially private colleges, often organize admissions into geographic regions.  The geographic representative is often a person who adored college and wants to help you do the same.  This job has its ups and downs, up to and including carrying bags of pennants, mascots, pens and brochures down into the cafeteria, through the gym, or upstairs through the classroom hallways.  In large cities just finding a place to park can start the day off rather frantically. Popular schools may draw a crowd, but the reps from some great places students have never heard of may go through all this to speak with no one and end up with the same squeezy stress balls they came in with.  But these people MATTER.

The admissions rep for your area is familiar with the educational opportunities in different schools, towns, and cities.  When you request information from a college, your zip code sends you straight to your representative's list of prospects. I learned an important lesson years ago when a freshly hired representative of a competitive university stopped in for a visit.  She was just beginning her rounds of high schools.  "Do you know any of these people?" she asked as she rolled out a long computer printout of at least 200 names from one of our large area high schools.  I glanced through the impossible list and could not help her out. She said, "If I thought some of these people were actually really interested, I would have been sure to contact them about my visit." Whose names will she remember first in that huge task of sorting applicants? The ones she knows best.

If you are applying to a college with this kind of system, one of your first tasks is to identify your rep. If it is not already on the website, send an email to admissions requesting the name of the current representative for your area.  If you attend a boarding school away from your home state you will want the rep who handles the state in which you attend school. Express your interest and the rep will take it from there.  Polite contact that involves a question for which you can't find an answer is appropriate. Constant stalking (“hey, I just got an A on a test!”) is NOT! Do take advantage of any chance to meet the rep in person.  In fact, if he or she visits your school and you do not appear, you will be considered to be a no-show. Leave a note or quick email if you have a test and cannot show up. This person will be the primary manager of your application, your new best friend.


Jeanette Spires is a nationally certified school psychologist and counselor who has worked in varied educational settings, from running a dorm at Penn State to serving as a college counselor in the American community high schools in New Delhi and Buenos Aires.  She has given many training workshops for counselors at national and regional conferences. She currently consults on transition issues for young adults who are having difficulty in finding a sense of direction.  Working privately in the Chicago area since 1981, she follows a developmental model with the student: “Becoming an Expert on Yourself.”


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