Tom’s College E-mail Tips – Part 1

By Tom

Now that I’m coming up on the completion of my first full year as an admission counselor, I find myself reflecting on the past year and everything I’ve learned. This job certainly takes a lot of different hats – from traveling in the fall and giving information sessions, to reading applications, to interacting daily with students and parents. I’ve worked with publications and campus photo shoots, I’ve organized online chats, and I’ve done a bit of blogging on the side.

And I have answered a whole lot of e-mail. Being the primary point-person for our office’s Admission Inbox (, I have responded to precisely 561 e-mails in that account over the last eleven months. (That’s not counting those students who have contacted me directly; all of us answer direct e-mails personally.) So I think it’s fair to say that I have a good deal of experience with college-related e-mail. In light of this, I thought I would share with you some thoughts and tips on e-mail and its role in the college admission process. As I’ve collected these thoughts over the last year, they’ve grown rather lengthy, so I’m going to put this post up in two parts.

The first part focuses on how to deal with all of the e-mail that colleges are sending you; the second part will focus on the e-mails that you send to us. Here we go with Part 1!

Tip #1: Colleges will bombard you with e-mail. This isn’t so much a tip as a fact. Many of you are probably experiencing this already. The unfortunate side of e-mail’s convenience is that colleges and universities can send out mass quantities of stuff for free, and they tend to send lots of it. You don’t have time to read all of it, so you’ll need to learn how to sort out the important things from the unimportant things (just like you do with postal mail). Once you know that you’re no longer interested in a particular college, contact that school and have them take you off their mailing list. This will help cut down on the volume of e-mail you’re receiving.

Tip #2: Set up a separate e-mail account for the college application process. It can be very helpful to separate all of your college-related e-mail from the rest. It also helps keep you on top of things and not lose e-mails into the shuffle (see tip #4).

Tip #3: Pick a professional, mature-sounding address. As an admission officer, I can’t say I’m overly impressed when I get e-mails from or (I made both of those up, but they’re pretty close to actual e-mails I’ve received). An e-mail address with some form of your name is probably a good choice.

Tip #4: Check your e-mail regularly. Make sure you read the e-mails that colleges send to you – especially after you’ve applied. Many colleges send very important information via e-mail, and it’s your responsibility to read it, just like it’s your responsibility to read postal mail that comes to you. Throughout the admission process this year, I spoke often with students who missed important deadline reminders or other information, and when I asked them to go back and check, they discovered that they had unopened or unread e-mails from us. After you apply to Richmond, doesn’t it make sense to carefully read any e-mail you receive from Richmond?

Part 2 should be up within a few days, so check back soon!

One Comment

  1. Virginia Page
    Posted May 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great tips, Tom! And good job answering all those emails.

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