This is the third in a series on how to nail the college admissions interview. Click here for previous posts on why colleges offer admissions interviews and the kinds of college interviews you may encounter.
Regardless of the type of interview or who the interviewer might be, you have to keep your own objective in mind. Your aims are as follows:
- Demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of the college. You need to show your interviewer that you really are keen to attend, and that you have done your homework (more on that in a minute!)
- Convey your academic abilities, interests, and curiosity. This is your chance to toot your horn and tell them all about all the interesting things you do.
- Speak with enthusiasm about your various activities and interests. Every admissions officer is looking for students who can convey their excitement about their pastimes. So go ahead and gush (at least a bit…!).
- Provide context for various choices you have made (dropping a class, adding a sport). This is an opportunity to put your choices into some perspective. When you show competence and enthusiasm in certain areas (see #3 above), then it makes it more understandable why you made the choices you made.
- Showcase your sparkling personality. Be friendly, warm, and fun. Every campus is looking for individuals who exude some sort of spark. Ignite yours!
- Make a memorable impression. You want whomever you interviewed with to remember you, and to take the time to communicate their favorable impressions on your admissions file.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
In order to demonstrate your interest in a college, you have to do your research. You need to know why you want to attend, what makes the place special, and the sorts of academic programs and extracurricular activities you’d enjoy pursuing. Many interviews are more a test of fit: do you understand whether you’d fit at this college, and can you convince the interviewer of this conviction? Here are some ways to prepare.
- Consider the activities you most enjoy both in and out of school now. Are similar activities offered at the college or university? What can you learn about them? Investigate those pages of the website, and know the names of the particular clubs and organizations on that campus.
- Think about a your academic interests now, and investigate how those academics subjects are presented at the university. Check out the course catalog (sometimes call a “bulletin”) and look at the requirements for particular majors you may be interested in pursuing. Even if you are undecided about your major, you can investigate a couple of departments that pique your curiosity: “I have no idea what I might major in at this school, but I noticed that there is a Latin American Studies major that looks interesting to me, because it combines my interests in Spanish, geography, and history.”
- Know the basic admissions requirements, the demographics of the student body, the range of majors, and the basic organizational structure of the college.