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Why Do Colleges Offer Admissions Interviews in the Application Process?

Prepare for college admissions interview with this comprehensive e-book
Prepare for college admissions interview with this comprehensive e-book

Interviews are an important element of the admissions process.  Today I am beginning a series of posts to provide important tips will help you prepare for the interview so that you can demonstrate your abilities, show your enthusiasm for a college, and share your sparkling personality.  With a bit of solid information, combined with some forethought and research, you’ll be able to nail the admissions interview.
So, on to the first installment!

Why Offer Interviews

Colleges have three motivations for offering interviews for prospective students.  First, they want to gain more information about you as an applicant, and to assess your suitability for admission.  Second, they want to give you more information about the college, and ensure that you leave with a favorable impression.  In other words, interviews are as much a marketing strategy as an evaluation tool.  Third, they want to gauge your interest in their college.  Admissions officers want students who have a particular desire to attend their institution, and the interview is a way to learn how their school ranks on the student’s list of choices.

Regardless of the motivations, you want to take the opportunity to present yourself as a candidate for admission.  The interview is a chance for you to humanize your application, and for a representative of the college to learn more about you beyond your grades and test scores.  It’s also a great way to learn more about the college from someone who knows quite a bit about it.  An interview—even a relatively bad one—rarely hurts your application.  A good interview could help your candidacy considerably.  So if an interview is offered, take it.

Why Don’t All Colleges Offer Interviews? 

Generally, the issue is volume of applications:  schools like New York University just have too many applicants to make interviews practicable.  Highly selective schools with a very high volume of applications—including the Ivy League universities—never schedule an on-campus interviews, but will offer alumni interviews to those who have completed their applications.  State universities have too many applicants or have admissions procedures that are designed for efficiency.  Generally the smaller colleges and more selective universities are the ones that will offer interviews as a way to get to know their applicants better, and as a way to offer a more personal touch in the admissions process.
In the next installment, we’ll look at the various types of interviews that a college may offer.
Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant


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