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How to get an insider on your side…even if you’re not a legacy and haven’t donated millions of dollars

Most people know that when it comes to getting a job, it’s all about who you know. Getting that insider to pull for you. The same is true for college admissions. Let’s consider two applicants to Harvard. They’re both great applicants, but one has the fencing coach and a tenured professor pulling for them and the other doesn’t. Who has the leg up? So why don’t more students try to connect with insiders at their dream schools? Because it seems hard. They don’t know where to even start. They’re not legacies. Their parents haven’t donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the school. I get it, but it’s actually easier than you may think.

Now, of course, having an insider at your dream school isn’t a guaranteed in, but I’m going to make this so easy for you that it’s a total no-brainer. Just follow these easy steps during your college visits this spring, and you’ll have insiders at your dream schools before you know it.

Athletic Insiders

A lot of people think if they’re not a recruited athlete, there’s no point in talking to the coaches at their dream college. That’s absolutely not true. There are so many rules associated with recruiting college athletes. Take the initiative and contact the coaches yourself. Don’t assume because they haven’t contacted you that you’re not what they’re looking for.

It’s super easy because many colleges have online questionnaires for varsity sports. Even if they don’t, you can find the coaches’ emails online and contact them directly. Harvard’s coach list is here. You can find MIT’s online questionnaires here. Yale’s online recruiting questionnaires are here. If you play a varsity sport and would be interested in playing in college, definitely give this a try. Even if the school doesn’t have a varsity team in your sport, they may have a competative club team. Shoot the coach an email and ask them for a meeting during your college visit. You can see the facilities, meet the coaches, and most importantly demonstrate your interest in the school.

Academic Insiders

Maybe you’re not athlete. Another great option is to contact professors at your dream school. This may seem intimidating, but it’s actually a lot easier than you may think. Check out the department you’re interested in. Find professors who are doing research that looks cool to you. Send them an email like this before your college visit to try to set up a quick meeting with them.

Subject: Prof X, are you available for meeting a prospective student?

Dear Professor X,

My name’s [your name], and I’m a junior at [high school] in [city].  I’m really interested in your research on [whatever they research] and would love to talk to you about it. [dream school] is my dream school, and I’ll be visiting [dates]. Do you have 15 minutes to chat with me?

Thanks,

Your name 

You’ll find a lot of professors are more than happy to meet with high school students, especially for a short meeting during your visit. If you want to virtually guarantee a response, though, find a referral. Parents, you can look into your network and see if you know anyone with connections to your kid’s dream school. If you’re working at a lab or have an internship during the summer, check with your boss or the professor your working with to see if they know somebody at the school. You can ask them to introduce you or simply start your email with “[referral] told me I had to meet with you during my visit.”

Action Steps

  1. If your an athlete, email the coach of your sport today and ask for a meeting during your college visit.
  2. Make a list of professors to email at your dream school.
  3. Use the template above to email them to set up meetings during your college visit.

If you’re looking for more help with the application and getting into elite colleges, get my Ultimate Guide to the Common App today!

One Response to “How to get an insider on your side…even if you’re not a legacy and haven’t donated millions of dollars

  • Connie Tang
    4 years ago

    What would I do once I have an insider to the school?

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