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A poorly written email could hurt a student’s chance of getting into college

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Bob McDonnell

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Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 9:00 am

Students interact with their colleges in many ways. It could be through a call to an admissions office, or to speak directly with a representative at an interview. But recently student emailing has been on the increase in all aspects of life, and emailing colleges is also on the rise. A college admissions counselor’s job is to help prospective students, but a poorly written email on the student’s part may hurt chances of getting into the school. A college admissions counselor’s job is to help prospective students, but a poorly written email on the student’s part may hurt chances of getting into the school.

Writing an email to an admissions counselor to ask for advice, check the status of an application, or just to get a bit more information? Here’s how to compose an email in a way that will not cause the counselor to hit the delete button, or worse, make the counselor reconsider an acceptance to the college. Make sure you type in complete sentences, do not use slang, and sound interesting.

• An example of what not to write: “hi i am interested in ur school can u send me more info plz”

• An example of what to write: “Hello, I am interested in your school and would like to receive more information.”


What does your email font say about you?

As an interested student, you want to project a certain image in all of your interactions with college prospects - including your emails. A study conducted last fall by Wichita State University found that the choice of font can impact the impression you make on your email readers. The study tested several pop ular fonts for “appropriateness” in communication. Depending on your choice, you may come across as youthful, rebellious, unstable, less trustworthy or less professional. Not exactly what you intended.

Here’s how the fonts stacked up, from most appropriate to least:

• Calibri - highly appropriate

• Corbel

• Candara

• Cambria

• Verdana

• Arial

• Times New Roman

• Constantia

• Georgia

• Century Gothic

• Comic Sans - moderately appropriate

The fonts that rounded out the list as “least appropriate” were Gigi, Rockwell Extra Bold and Impact. The lower a font ranked in appropriateness, the more likely a reader was to assume the writer was a lower level trainee and less mature.

The takeaway from the study: Your font choice may create an unprofessional first impression if you’re not careful. Steer clear of playful, “novelty” fonts that may not truly represent your level of experience.

While Calibri ranked highest in the Wichita survey, it’s not available on everyone’s computer. Fortunately, nearly everyone has several of the other high-scorers, including Verdana, Arial and Times New Roman.

How do you decide which to use? On one hand, you want your font to say something about you. Generally, sans-serif fonts such as Arial convey a more “contemporary” feeling, while serif fonts such as Times New Roman feel more “classical.” On the other hand, you have to consider your audience.


Email address appropriateness

What about email addresses? Colleges will eventually see these emails and so will employers (good for our clients in school already).

Examples of bad emails seen on a daily basis:






Even though a student may be a strait “A,” hard-working individual, many college administrators do not see that aspect when their first impression is formed through email. As one college administrator puts it: “Though they do make me laugh, these email addresses indicate a student’s passion in life, and obviously it isn’t studying.”

• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email Info@ArizonaCollegePlanners.com.

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