Say you receive an email from an admissions officer inviting you to an interview. Or you grabbed someone's business card at a school forum and want to email that admissions officer with a question. What's the appropriate way to address that person?
Here are some guidelines to help you communicate with admissions officers in a professional way:
If the person's recent email or recent business card clearly identifies him (in the email signature, for example) as having a Dean title, you can address him as Dean So-and-So.
If the person has a title with the word Director in it (for example, Associate Director of Admissions), use Mr. or Ms.
A note for military folk: Unless you're talking to someone at a military academy, in the world of higher ed it is generally not customary to address people as "Ma'am" or "Sir" in an email salutation.
Regardless of job title, it is not appropriate to call an admissions officer (or a professor, for that matter) by her first name, unless and until she expressly invites you to.
If you're not sure about the person's job title, it's always safe to use Mr./Ms.
All these guidelines apply to in-person meetings with admissions officers as well.
Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. You can find more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions. Join the conversation here in the blog comments and on Twitter and Facebook, or email us a new question for the blog.