Tips on preparing for the college admissions interview. With so many applicants with similar grades, colleges may use the interview as the deciding factor.
Preparing for the College Admissions Interview
In the current college admissions climate, successful applicants will need to present more than just a written application. To be sure, strong academic credentials are an important component, but they are no longer sufficient to earn admission into many selective institutions of higher learning.
Today, many colleges strongly encourage you to interview with an admissions representative or alumnus as part of the college application process, generally on campus or with the representative assigned to your high school or region. Some schools now actually require interviews and employ a specific process to conduct them.
To successfully apply to many colleges, you will find that in addition to excellent grades and test scores, you must be able to prove that you are a good “fit” for their learning environment. Along with the college essay, the college interview provides applicants a golden opportunity to demonstrate that you are not only qualified, but fully competent for admission into the college of your choice.
The college interview comes down to 3 things.
- They want to like you.
- They want you to like them.
- They want you to like their school.
Sounds easy, right?
Admissions Accomplished would love to see you accepted to your 1st choice in higher education. Here are some tips for preparing for the college admissions interview.
Preparing for the College Admissions Interview
Schedule Your Interview Early – Since interview appointments fill up quickly during the application season, you’ll want to schedule an interview at least 4 weeks ahead of your planned visit.
Know Your School – Scour your prospective school’s website, particularly the pages of the website that focus upon the areas of interest you are looking to pursue. Learn about the courses, the professors, and extracurricular activities from which you would benefit if you are offered admission. By demonstrating a deep knowledge of the college’s offerings, your admissions officer is more likely to regard you as a serious and genuinely interested candidate.
Practice Answering Basic Questions – There are a few basic questions you can likely count on hearing:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to attend this college?
- What do you expect to gain from this college?
- What do you plan to major in and why?
- If you could have done one thing in high school differently, what would it be?
- Who in your life has most influenced you?
- Tell me about a challenge you overcame.
- What can you contribute to our campus life?
- Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
- What is your favorite book? Hobbies? Activities? (and why)
You don’t need to memorize your answers, but think through the issues ahead of time so you’ll have something to discuss. Do practice. Interviewing is a skill and it requires practice. Sit down with a parent, friends, teachers, or a counselor and have them ask you their very best college admission questions. Have them be creative, but answer the questions honestly and seriously, then ask how you came across or what their impression was. Finding a good partner to practice with will enable you to discover and subsequently improve upon weaknesses in your interview techniques. You’ll get better each time. That school you really want to get into? You may want to schedule that one as your last interview.
During the interview, if you ace the basic questions, it gives you added confidence if a curveball comes your way.
Be (or at least seem) Spontaneous – Though you should practice answering the basic questions, always answer honestly and naturally during the interview. Don’t rattle off memorized canned speeches, or sound like you are reading from a script.
Keep it Conversational – Provide more than a short “yes” or “no” answer. Bring in specifics to back you up in the conversation.
Prepare Specific Questions – Your interviewer will expect you to ask some questions to them about the school and talk about why you want to go there. Put some energy into coming up with creative questions with answers that cannot be easily found on the college’s website or brochures.
Show your interest in the school by asking specific questions such as:
- How would you describe the student body?
- What are your most popular majors, and why?
- What is your average class size for freshman? For upperclassmen?
- What are the school’s strengths?
- Where does your college need to improve?
- What distinguishes your college from other comparable colleges?
- Can you speak about career placement of recent graduates?
Don’t be a Clock Watcher – Don’t worry about the time. Turn your phone off or at a minimum, mute it. Most college interviews run from 30 to 60 minutes. Most on-campus interviews are scheduled back to back, and off-campus interviews are generally performed by alumni who also happen to be working professionals who are on a tight schedule. If they are checking the time, it’s (probably) not because you are boring. It’s more likely they have another interview or have to get back to work.
Be yourself – Be yourself, but be at your best. Show your professional side by being mature and composed. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, smile, and above all, remember…
The interviewer is hoping it goes well too!
A college admission interview is an opportunity for an applicant to make a good in-person impression. An applicant should come prepared, ready to talk about themselves and the school—and how they might come together in the future. You should be ready to discuss the things that matter to you as well as sharing aspects of the school that have drawn you to it.
The college admissions interview gives you a chance to expand on some of the things you have previously shared in the application process. Embrace it and share your passions and depth of understanding on how you will be a positive addition to their community.
Last Tip on Preparing for the College Admissions Interview – There May Be Two Deadlines – Once you’ve made your request for an interview, know that the deadline for interviews may have a separate deadline from the overall application due date. You’ll need to keep track of two separate due dates.
“Tipping the Scales”
The rate of admissions to competitive schools has decreased in recent years due to the swell of qualified applicants. Increasingly, admissions officers are depending upon the intangibles — essays, letters of recommendation, interviews — to guide their decisions. With so many applicants presenting similar scores and grades, admissions professionals are utilizing these supporting materials to differentiate candidates. Students who want to ‘tip’ the scale in their favor can benefit from the professional experience that our experienced team offers.
Have Questions? Contact Admissions Accomplished
Admissions Accomplished® is a highly experienced team dedicated to using our unique knowledge, professional experience, and creativity to help you gain acceptance to the school of your choice. We know what admissions committees are looking for and will help you to get your Admissions Accomplished®!