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Three tips for the college admission interview

By Jay Jacobs on June 10, 2013

I know that you’re just settling into summer break; scooping ice cream, surfing, lifeguarding, etc. But—its time! Time to start thinking about all of the college visits that you and your family are going to make this summer and fall! While on campus, many of you will take advantage of opportunities like tours, information sessions, and interviews. Here are some thoughts on how to get the most out of your on-campus interview.

Colleges and universities use the interview in a number of ways. Some will have evaluative interviews, where your performance will be included with your application materials. Others, like Colgate, offer informational interviews that don’t weigh into the admission decision. Here are my three tips for getting the most out of your interview, no matter what kind it is:

1.)    Prepare: Take a minute or two to think of possible questions that you are going to get asked. For the most part, you will not need to try and think of answers to strange and unusual questions (students are sometimes expecting those, such as “if you were a fruit/color/animal, what would you be and why?”). The interviewer will typically “break the ice” and try to get a more natural conversation flowing. Some questions you should expect are:

  • How did you hear about College X and what brought you here today?
  • What are you looking for in a college?
  • What classes are you taking your senior year? Do you have a favorite subject?
  • What are you most looking forward to this year in school?
  • How would your teachers describe you? How would your friends describe you?

2.)    Be open and honest: The most memorable interviews for admission officers are those where we learn something about the student. It is our job to get to know you as well as possible. Tell us about yourself, teach us about yourself, and don’t be modest! You certainly have something unique to bring to our campus community—make sure we know what that is. We want to know what you are passionate about, interested in, and good at! To a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds, talking about themselves can be difficult. But remember, you don’t have a lot of opportunities in the college admission process to vouch for yourself (besides the essay), so take advantage of this opportunity!

3.)    Leave with information: How often during the college admission process are you sitting in a room with just you and an admission officer? Use this opportunity to get all of your personal and specific questions answered. Think about what is going to make or break your decision to attend any institution and ask those questions. It could be on an academic program that you are interested, it could be about a club or organization that you can’t do without, it could be about the food in the dining hall—anything! Different students are looking for different things, so ask questions about what is or will be important for you while you’re in college.

If you follow these three pointers, you can assure that you got the most out of your on-campus interview experience. But there is one more thing you absolutely must do—relax and enjoy! Admission officers aren’t there to stump you, intimidate you, or make the admission decision right there on the spot. The more relaxed you are, the more natural and free flowing your interview will go. Enjoy the interview process, get as much as you can out of it, and good luck with your college application process!

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