College applications are in, but the application process isn’t entirely over. Applicants have the opportunity to interview with college alumni as part of the application, but it isn’t required. Most the time, it is dependent on location and availability, so make sure you’re regularly checking your email!
Here are some preparation tips if you do get a college interview:
1. Do Your Research
Do not go to a college interview unprepared. College interviews alone are not going to get you accepted to your dream school, but it can impact negatively on your application. You need to show the college alumni interviewer that you are interested in the school, and to do so, you need to know the basics of a college: location, student size, curriculum. You don’t want to show up to a Brown interview and tell the interview you need structure to thrive academically.
“Most of my interviews were fairly straight-forward. The interviewers told me that they could not get a student accepted from a school, but they could get a student rejected. Essentially, if you don’t make a fool of yourself in the interview, you will be fine. Look up common interview questions and brainstorm answers to them beforehand. Also, have a really solid answer to the “Why ____?” question going in. The interviewer wants to see that you aren’t applying to the school randomly or without any knowledge of it.” –
2. Practice Interviews
Conduct a few practice interviews with your teachers, or school counselor. You don’t need to memorize your answers, because you don’t want to sound rehearsed. The point of these practice interviews is to get you comfortable with an interview setting, so you know what to expect.
3. Checkout the location
Once you and the interviewer have decided on a location, make sure you go check it out if you’re unfamiliar with it. Are there a lot of distractions? Is it loud? How cold is it? These are minor details that you should know to make yourself as comfortable as possible. What’s most important is you know how long it takes to get there, so you can schedule in travel time.
4. Build a list of questions
The college interview is the best opportunity for you to learn more about the school you applied to. As much as the interview is for the school to get to know you as an applicant, it is also for you to find out if the school is for you. The alumni interviewer can share more about the campus culture and alumni network that you’ll access as to as a student.
“I began to regret applying to Princeton after my interview. My interviewer was kind of a jerk, he came late and then, after hearing about my interests he was completely fixated on talking about my post-college plans. After I mentioned I was interested in Rabbinical school, he told me that I “don’t need to go to Princeton”. And after talking to him, I certainly didn’t want to!” –
5. Arrive Early
First impressions matter, so don’t be tardy! More importantly, getting there early will give you time to relax and settle into the environment. Most college interviews are in casual settings, so there’s no need to be nervous. If your nerves normally get the best of you, give yourself some time.
6. Say Thank You
Always remember to follow up after your interview and say thank you. Jot down some notes from the interview that were particularly interesting to you, whether it’s about the school or the interviewer. Mention it in your thank you email, tell them you appreciate them taking the time to interview you and re-iterate your interest in attending their alma mater.
If you want more college interview tips, check out more on the topic! Our College Admits share the questions they were asked, how they did, and their acceptance results at each of those schools.
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About Frances Wong
A math major turned growth hacker, Frances has worked in PR and marketing in Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. is her third edtech startup, coming from Course Hero and Purpella. Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Fun Fact: Frances was a certified and licensed EMT during her time at Georgetown.
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