Admissions Officer Insight: Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Regular Decision

Ryan Ricciardi, Bowdoin College, Associate Dean of Admissions

The world is your oyster! This is an exciting time of the holiday season as you finalize your early and regular decision applications to the colleges on your list. The even better part? You’ve already finished 90 percent of the work. You wrote your essays, contacted teachers for letters of recommendation, took your exams, and filled out financial aid information. That’s a ton of work to celebrate. Think about the pieces of applying to and going to college that are important to you: size, location, academics, test optional, etc. The QuestBridge partners are all different institutions that offer different opportunities—and we are all excited to admit more QuestBridge Scholars in early and regular application rounds and to learn more about you. It’s a chance for you to let us know that you’re as interested in us as we are in you.

Take a tour

What does it mean to let colleges know you’re interested? There are many opportunities to be in touch with us, to ask any questions you may have, and to express your excitement about our school—and you don’t have to travel across the country to do it. One way to let us know is to visit our school. Is it a college in your hometown? Or near your high school? Check to see if they are offering a tour or an information session. You’ll get a chance to talk with a student or an admissions officer about their experience there and have your questions answered in person.

Schedule an interview

But traveling across the country to visit a school in Maine when you live in Louisiana isn’t usually possible—and we know that. So every school has other options to get in touch with us as well. If a school offers alumni interviews in your area, that’s a great time to talk with someone who knows a little bit about that college and to let that college know a little bit more about you. We don’t admit applications—we admit people. The more we know about you as a person, the more we get to see how great you are—and how great you’re going to make our school.

Use online resources

Do the schools on your list not offer interviews? Get to know us online! Fill out an inquiry form to get on our mailing lists, take a virtual tour, or take advantage of access to current students on campus. All these options are usually found on an admissions website, and they’re there because we want you to know us as well as we get to know you through your application. It’s especially important for schools you may not have had a chance to visit. You want to know that these are places you could call your home for four years.

And finally, admissions officers are humans too. We don’t have robots or computers reading your application. So send your admissions officer or the QuestBridge Liaison an email with any questions that you may have. One or two emails should provide all the information you need to get your questions answered.

Take advantage of supplemental materials

One last piece to consider: each school needs different items from you to complete your application. For some, your QuestBridge application may be enough as it is. For others, they may want you to answer a short question or two in addition to the essays you’ve already written. Some schools have arts supplements or the opportunity to submit original research. Take advantage of all of these opportunities to show off and brag about your incredible achievements. But pay attention to what each school asks for and be specific in your response. We want to hear you answer our questions—not someone else’s!

What’s happening behind the scenes on our end? At all the partner schools, admissions officers are reading applications from early and regular rounds, and all of us are working to select the best class for our school each year. There are 39 college partners, each of which looks at very specific pieces of your application when reading to make the best decision they can for you and for their institution.

In short, each of us is looking for you, so make sure you let us know who you are and what’s important to you. We’re excited to meet you through your application, and we hope to see you in our applicant pool—and on our campus—soon.

Happy Holidays and best of luck!

Ryan Ricciardi, Associate Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College