Advisors & Admissions Officers: The Sales Reps of the College Business Model

There are two kinds of people that you want to be weary of: salesmen and lawyers. Both are very sneaky, able to formulate an argument and sell you on it, even if they don’t entirely believe it themselves. They’re both essential to business as one drives sales while the other helps retain the money gained from those sales. For colleges, the business model they take on does’t stray that far from many other businesses that are out there. They’ve got their lawyers, of course, but who do they have to drive sales?

The most notable group of people that you’ll encounter while on campus are the college’s advisors and their admissions officers. Many are nice, friendly, and will do whatever they can to help you succeed while at college. Some advisors will even be willing to talk with you if you’re having a bad day, but there’s one role they serve that supersedes above all else: to make sure you’re spending money at their institution.

Admissions officers are essentially the sales representatives of colleges. Now of course, you have college recruiters , but the admissions officer’s job is much more valuable since they’re the ones filtering through all the applications. The advisors are the managers that make sure their clients stay on task and are just as effective as their position allows them gain the student’s and the parents’ trust. It’s the college’s name and reputation that bring in the students, but the advisors are the ones that keep them there.

I know it’s a rather harsh thing to say — albeit cynical, even — but it is their job. I understand that not all are cold, heartless creatures bent on manipulating students for the sake of keeping their jobs. As far as advisors go, I’ve met good ones in the past, but I also understand that as a student, I’m their client the moment I walk into their office. While they may purpose to ensure that your time on campus is as painless as possible, they still must operate in the best interest of the college.

So it’s very unlikely either one will be be giving you advice on how to save on money or suggesting that you take the year off to give you time to think about what you want to pursue for a career. If they did, they wouldn’t be doing their job very well. Take the time to do your own research and find out what the best decision would be. In fact, as I recall correctly, I never saw an admissions officer while at college, or an advisor unless it had to do with my schedule.

And even though you may have been strongly urged you to seek out an advisor for “everything” during your orientation, there are many things that you don’t need to seek help on. What’s best for you may not be best for the college, so seeking help from an advisor may only bring about confusion. Now of course, you do need to see them if there’s an issue concerning your courses or if you need to make adjustments to your your schedule. Otherwise, just be weary.