Although colleges and universities rarely emphasize a 30-minute encounter over the recommendations of teachers who document four years of accomplishments by students, college interviews remain an important part of the application process. Personal contact with a college or university representative may help a student's application stand out during the admission process. In addition, the interview provides an opportunity for students and families to address questions regarding an institution.
These factors make interviews advantageous for students to pursue. Smaller institutions generally give interviews more weight than larger institutions, although few institutions require one, and they are a relatively minor factor in admission decisions. An institution will arrange interviews by local alumni if interviews are required and the institution is not within easy traveling distance. In many cases, admission staff members will also travel to selected regions in the fall.
Students must call college admission offices early in the admission cycle for comprehensive travel schedules of their representatives. Applications generally do not need to be submitted prior to scheduling an interview. It is best to call for interview appointments early in the fall of senior year.
Students should keep the following tips in mind for interviewing with their college or university of choice:
Relax. It is fun to talk about yourself.
Be prepared to go into the interview alone. Parents and other family members are generally brought into the discussion after the admission representative and student speak alone.
Dress appropriately. Although formal dress is not required, neatness and tastefulness are crucial.
Be prompt. When an interviewer calls to make the appointment, obtain his or her phone number so you can call if you are delayed or must reschedule.
Ask thoughtful and well-informed questions. Remember, the interview is your opportunity to find out about the college, not just the college's opportunity to find out about you. Asking good questions requires some research and reflection on your part before the interview. Bring notes if you feel you may forget your questions.
Don't feel compelled to give your entire resume. The interview does not have to cover every wonderful thing about you. The admission office will have all the objective information it needs; interviews are to see how you think and how you handle yourself, not to find out your test scores or athletic honors.
Be yourself, not what you think the college or university expects you to be.
Do not judge the institution on the basis of the interviewer. Although it is helpful if you learn things from the interview that make you feel differently about an institution, avoid letting feelings about your interviewer become too important in your decision to pursue admission or enrollment.