"can i visit sumtime nxt wk 2 stay 4 a nite?"

By Corinne

"Hey! j/w if i need nemore stuff for my app.... n can i visit sumtime nxt wk 2 stay 4 a nite? I <3 this school! k, thnx, ttyl!"

Please do not write that email. Please do not be THAT student.

Let me read you the admission counselor version of your Miranda rights: Every email, phone conversation, voicemail, and sentence spoken from the moment you begin to interact with a college can and will be used in your application. Here are three easy ways to avoid making a terrible impression:

1) Introduce yourself politely. If you are approaching an institution's table at a college fair, do not walk up and say "yo, what's good?" Smile, extend a hand (if you are free of swine flu), and politely say, "Hi! My name is Sam." When a potential applicant demonstrates sincerity and maturity, we admission counselors heave sighs of relief.

2) Write to schools yourself. 80% of my emails come from parents inquiring on behalf of their son or daughter. That percentage is way too high. Make it a point to contact the school yourself. Whether you have a general question or want to schedule a visit, make it your responsibility to write the email. Doing so is a great way to convey the message, "I'm a mature and responsible applicant!"

3) Write emails in standard English. Choose a salutation ("Dear ____," "To Whom it May Concern:", or, if you know the person you are emailing, "Hello ___!"). Then, write your email in language that Mr. Webster himself would find acceptable.

Do you have an etiquette question, or any other kind of admissions question, for Corinne? Reach her at advice@sparknotes.com.

Topics: parents, admissions, college fairs, emails, manners

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