College Admissions: Tips for the College Interview

Like we’ve said before, SAT preparation is far from the only aspect of the college admissions process. There’s your personal statement or college essay, your activities resume, your GPA and the classes in which you’re enrolled, and the potential college interview.

If the opportunity presents itself for you to have an interview with a representative from a college that you’ve applied to or an alum from that college, we encourage you to take it. If you’re not offered a college interview, be sure to call up the school to see if it’s possible to request one. While the college essay gives you a chance to be more than a set of numbers and allows you to tell your story, the college interview puts a face to your application—literally!

We’re sure most of these next few items are understood, but here are a few reminders for interview (college or otherwise) etiquette:

  1. Appropriate dress is essential.

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    What not to do on a college interview...

  2. Be courteous and respectful.
  3. No gum chewing.
  4. Avoid the “Umms” and “Likes”

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Obvious items aside, the most important piece of advice that we can give to you is to be yourself. This is your chance to show an admissions officer who you are, to tell them about your interests, goals, and hopes for your academic future and beyond.  But as wonderful as you may be, some preparation should go into getting ready for your college interview.

We would recommend that you have some general answers ready to go for some possible questions that college interviewers may be asking you. A few might include:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? (*Yes, it’s a broad question, so be sure to highlight something special.)
  • Why have you selected this particular college? (*If you’re seeking admission to a college, you should 100% be able to answer this!)
  • In what academic areas are you interested?
  • In what extracurricular activities have you been involved? (*Talk about the one that’s proven most meaningful for you.)
  • What sets you apart as an individual and applicant?
  • What books or articles have you read in the last year that have meaning to you? (*Even if it wasn’t in the last year, be able to talk about something you’ve read that has impacted you.)
  • Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

We’re not saying to write out long answers to the above questions so that you’re ready to recite them verbatim. Instead,  simply have some talking points prepared for these kinds of general questions. And here’s the good news: THERE’S NO “RIGHT” OR “WRONG” ANSWERS! These aren’t trick questions; for the most part, they’re about you! It’s not so much a matter of whether you will get stumped or not, it’s a matter of whether you remember to highlight the things you wish to get across about yourself.

But guess what—your college interviewer is also helping you to determine whether this college is the right place for you, so you should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. There is a lot of information to be gained on both sides during a college interview. In a way, you are interviewing the college as much as they are interviewing you. The following are a few suggestions for possible questions you may want answered by a college representative:

  • What is the average class size and are there seminars and honors classes available?
  • When do you select a major?
  • How many courses are required and is there much room for self-selection of coursework?
  • How is faculty available to students beyond the classroom?
  • Is there a writing center?
  • How diverse is the student body?
  • Is it a “suitcase” school where the majority of students go home on the weekend rather than dorm?
  • Are there study abroad programs available? What countries may I visit?
  • What internship opportunities are available for my field of study?

Of course, these are only our suggestions. Choosing what college to attend is a BIG decision. We’d encourage you to ask any questions you would like answered about your potential future school.

Finally, one more piece of advice: Be sure to remember your interviewer’s name! Because after the interview, we suggest that you write a thank-you note. But don’t overdo it—it doesn’t need to be an overly sweet, lengthy letter. Keep it brief and sincere; it can’t hurt.

So though the importance of an interview will vary from college to college, we say, take advantage of the chance to put a face to your application when you can. It’s your opportunity to shine, and to ask meaningful questions about your potential college.

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