Networking Tips and Tricks

1. Identify opportunities through which you can connect with reps from your chosen college. These may include: college tours, summer programs, and alumni networks. Go
online and see what’s coming up. The more high-touch your connection with the school, the more context you’ll have for building a relationship. That means it’s better to go on a
tour than simply attend an open house in your town—but don’t sweat it if travel and tours are not in your budget. If you’re starting from zero (no family history at the school and no
way to travel there), connect with an alumni network and ask to be put in touch with someone at the school via an active alumnus.

2. Set up meetings (online or in person) with administrators at the college. This sounds scary—but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s say you want to explore a school’s music program
and ask a question of a professor, yet you’re unable to travel to the school and ask in person. You may send an email that sounds like this:

‘Hello! I’m really interested in the Music Department at School XYZ. My experience is (briefly summarize; maybe include a link to an online portfolio).
I think I want to pursue conducting as a career and would love to know which classes could best prepare me for that track. Would you have ten minutes for a
phone call to discuss?’

This email does three things. Number one: It’s courteous and establishes you as a friendly person. Number #2: It shows your relevant interest and experience in the subject matter
(i.e., you didn’t pick up this subject yesterday). Number #3: It asks a specific question, as well as provides a time frame for the answering of that question (ten minutes). The
professor knows you and your parents aren’t expecting her to give up a half day of research and instruction to answer a question that just popped into your head.

If you take this approach, phone calls are great. Skype or Zoom calls are even better! Don’t underestimate the relationship building currency you can generate from a
face-to-face meeting, even if it’s over the computer.

3. When you make an in-person connection, work it for all it’s worth. Let’s say you attend an info session where you meet an admissions counselor. When you get home, don’t wait; send a quick follow-up email to the counselor reminding him of your meeting, thanking him for his time, and opening the door for future communication. If you’re planning on touring a college and want to connect with a particular professor, send an email ahead of time: “I’ll be visiting your class on Wednesday and am so excited, as I’m interested in majoring in XYZ. If it’s all right with you, I’d like to say hello after class.’

These small steps cost you nothing but a few extra minutes; yet use them, and you will stand out miles ahead of the competition. The more you connect with people from your chosen college, the more three-dimensional your application becomes. Don’t settle for being another faceless applicant in a sea of thousands—go for personal touches wherever
you can. Be creative, be bold, be polite. You’ll be surprised at what doors open for you.

4. Don’t let these connections go to waste: use them in your application essay. Colleges want to see your “demonstrated interest” in attending their institution. Think of making connections and relationship-building with key personnel as gathering evidence for why you want to attend your top-choice university. Once you gather the evidence for yourself, present that evidence in your essay. Mention a particularly enlightening conversation with a professor, or an alumni event that gave you a new perspective, or a new insight you garnered from sitting in on a professor’s class. . .anything that made a real impact on you and will show a high level of demonstrated interest to counselors.

Whatever you do, don’t assume that anyone besides you knows or cares about your efforts to connect with school personnel. Put that info where it counts—your essay. If you
have a university rep backing you via a recommendation letter, all the better. . .but don’t leave this to chance, either! If you’ve built a great relationship with someone at your
top-choice school, ask for the glowing review. The worst someone can say is no. Even if you don’t have that review, you can still share your takeaways from the conversation in
your essays–especially your supplemental essays targeted directly to the colleges of your choosing.