Saint Joseph's University

Communication is Key: A Guide to Professional Etiquette

Interview, phone calls, emails. Just hearing these words can make you break into a sweat. Add “College” into the mix, and things just turned dark.

Communication is a large piece of the college search process.  Whether you are communicating through interviews, emails, or phone calls, this can be the first time you are advocating for yourself to discover information to help shape your future.

Sound scary? Don’t worry: Saint Joseph’s Admission Department is here to share some tips about professional etiquette in the college process.

 

In-Person Communication:  Interviews

A college interview is similar to a job interview.  It is a conversation for both parties to share information and learn.  First impressions carry a lot of weight and can set the tone for your interview.  Some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Dress to impress
  2. Make eye contact
  3. Shake hands
  4. Introduce yourself
  5. Take a deep breath

These five steps, which sound simple, can be easily forgotten when the moment of face-to-face contact arrives and the nerves set in.  When you are interviewing or chatting with an admission counselor, come prepared. Do your homework and ask questions which cannot be easily gauged from the college website.  Also, consider how you want to speak about yourself. This way, when asked by an admission counselor, “Tell me a little about yourself,” you have go-to experiences, traits, or passions to highlight (even if you are feeling shy or nervous).  When concluding your interview or in-person interaction, be sure to exchange contact information. If you receive a counselor’s business card, send a follow up thank you email, or even go the extra mile for snail mail. While a handwritten note might sound old school, it shows attention and thoughtfulness.   

 

Virtual communication:  Email and Phone Calls

The major way we communicate today is through emails and the occasional phone call.  When drafting an email or dialing a number, understanding who you are addressing is essential.  It takes a village to run a university admission office, and each individual plays a specific role.  Consider if you are contacting the best individual to gain the information you are looking for.

 

Even if you are uncertain who to contact, if you keep in mind these tips, any staff member is happy to guide you to the right person.  

  1. Use a greeting.  You do not need to address every email “Dear Ms. Creegan,” but a simple “Good Morning Ashley” or  “Hello my name is,” to start a phone call goes a long way in setting a professional tone.
  2. Identify who you are, and the reason you are reaching out.  This allows the responder to understand if they are the best fit to answer your questions right out of the gate.  For example, do not leave the subject line of an email blank.
  3. Use an appropriate email address, free from nicknames, pop culture references or sports preferences.  Professionalism is essential in the college search and beyond. Creating an email specifically for your college search can keep your communication focused, ensuring you never miss an important email.
  4. PROOFREAD.  Before hitting send, take the time to read over your email to check for errors and clarity.
  5. Leave contact information.  This is key when leaving a voicemail! It is nearly impossible to follow-up if a counselor is unsure how to contact you.  If you are not accustomed to signing your name in emails, insert an email signature which will populate your name, high school, and contact information automatically.  

 

Bottom line: Use thoughtful communication, put yourself out there, and demonstrate understanding.  Despite sitting on opposite ends of a desk, admission counselors and students share the common goal of providing information and support to help ease the college process.  Happy communicating!