It’s college application time and your teen has taken the SAT or ACT, kept up his or her grades, written a stellar essay and completed all college applications. There is one more piece to the college admissions puzzle that could potentially gain your teen the acceptance he or she seeks: the college admissions interview. “Not all colleges require a college admissions interview, but many of the competitive institutions do, as do some colleges’ departments or schools that require secondary admission,” says Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. “The admissions interview intimidates many prospective students, but we encourage them to approach this as an opportunity to put a face to a name, make a good impression and articulate face-to-face why they would be a great student at the college.”
Huntington offers a few tips to students as they prepare for the college admissions interview:
Do spend time reflecting on yourself as a candidate for admission. The interviewer might want to learn more about your reasons for wanting to attend the college and the components of your background that would make you an ideal fit. There are no wrong answers in an admissions interview, since the interviewer simply wants to get to know you better. However, the more you prepare, the more polished you will come across.
Don’t present yourself as someone different than the real you. While you might feel tempted to embellish your ré or act in a way you think might impress the interviewer, it is better to be honest about who you are and what you have to offer. That may even mean discussing lessons you have learned from challenges or failures.
Do act professionally. You should treat the admissions interview as a chance to share your goals, educational journey, future plans and excitement about the college. Although the interviewer wants you to feel comfortable, treat this interview as you would a job interview. Come ready to answer a variety of questions about yourself in a direct and clear way.
Don’t be aloof or act too casual. Avoid cracking jokes, using inappropriate language or sharing too much personal information. Relax and be yourself, but remember that this is still an interview for college admission.
Do be prepared to ask questions. There is a good chance that you will be asked if you have any questions. Do your research about the college and the program or programs in which you are interested and develop a list of questions before your interview. Have them ready just in case.
Don’t waste valuable interview time asking about things you could learn elsewhere. While there may be time allotted for questions, choose those questions wisely. You could easily find out about the admissions process and extracurricular activities on the college’s website.
“The admissions interview is a great opportunity and should not be a source of anxiety,” Huntington reminds students. “Look on the college’s website for any interview guidelines or tips, spend time preparing for the interview, and most important, put your very best foot forward.”