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Winning the admissions game is easier when students understand, know and use proper etiquette during each step of the application process. While the “admissions machine” has been streamlined with the common application, online inquiries and virtual tours – outstanding etiquette can be your secret weapon to influence an acceptance and achieve admission to your dream school.

More than ever, etiquette is recognized as a benchmark of leaders -teachers and employers quickly recognize individuals who possess the confidence and leadership skills associated with good manners. In the ever increasing and competitive admissions pool, students not only need a well rounded personal resume but also a high social I.Q. to push their application to an acceptance status. Knowing and using the basics of good manners gives young people an advantage in college, their future career and other important aspects of their lives.

Here are five ways to be a savvy candidate and outclass the competition:

1) Ultimately the student is the applicant- not their parents and applicants who take the lead in the verbal, written and online communications with schools identify themselves as leaders who are taking charge of their future. Naturally this process will require guidance from adults along the way, but it provides a great teaching opportunity for students to develop essential life skills. Learning how to develop a positive rapport with an admissions administrator is a great advantage for any applicant.

2) Whether online or in-person, stand out by knowing how to manage greetings and engage individuals with thoughtful two- way dialogue. The ability to properly handle introductions with ease, express your accomplishments, goals and describe how you can contribute to a school community is powerful. Don’t simply rattle off adjectives that describe you, tell school representatives your story of how and why you are hardworking, motivated and unique.

3) School visits provide a great litmus test for students and parents to gage the culture of a school and the chance to put a face to your online application. Schedule visits when school is in session, prepare your personal resume and get up to date on current events. It’s a perfect opportunity to request an appointment with admissions representative or a dean in your field of study and put a face to an online application.

4) Follow up your submitted application with a hand written note expressing your gratitude for being considered for admission. Thank your representative for the time and guidance that they took to assist you. Although email is great for general inquiries, step out from behind the keyboard and take the time and effort to craft a considerate note to express that you recognize the kindness a person showed you and the passion you possess about your destiny.

5) Faced with waitlist status? Don’t dwell on the negative -turn the situation into a positive and let the admissions staff know you appreciate the opportunity to prove your value. Devise a plan that outlines three things that you plan to accomplish- improve a grade/test score, get an internship in your field of study, make an impact on a team, or volunteer for a meaningful project. As you succeed, keep the admissions staff up to date with short hand written notes of your accomplishments and thank them for still being under consideration.

Admissions are not simply about scores and statistics, great social skills help students shine above the crowd and succeed. Hilary Brennan, director of Socially Savvy specializes in preparing students to reach to their admissions potential with group and private coaching. For additional information contact,, the NJ/PA/DE tri-state area resource for etiquette training for students and adults.