The Insider’s Guide to the College Interview


Admissions personnel, alumni, or students may interview prospective students as part of the admissions process.  The interview lets the college get to know the prospective student as a person, not just as a name with list of grades and scores.  As much as the interview is a tool for the college to see if they want an applicant and to woo them, it is an opportunity for an applicant to learn more about the college and see if they want to attend.  Two alumni interviewers provided the following advice.

George Gawrys, a former alumni interviewer for MIT recommends:
1.      Be ready to describe why you’d be a good choice for the school (what will you contribute to the student body besides your brains, grades, and SAT scores).
2.      Be ready to talk about what you’ll major in and why, even if you are not sure.
3.      Act like the school is your first choice, even if it’s not.
4.      Have important questions ready to ask about the school and its locale.  Do some research on the school and familiarize yourself with the departments, reputation, and even some of the faculty.
5.      Don’t be shy, but don’t be arrogant either.
MIT
Curt Schmidt, an alumni interviewer for Lehigh University, indicates that Lehigh interviews are considered informational and that most students from central New Jersey interview on-campus with a representative of the Admissions Department, because of Lehigh’s close proximity.  An interview with a local Lehigh alum can be arranged, upon request.  Curt shared the following advice for those interested in interviewing with an alum:
1.      Request an interview with an alum that has a similar major or career to the one you are considering.  Alumni can provide insight into the college placement and career counseling available.
2.      Stay relaxed and confident, and answer honestly. 
3.      Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.  I will have to think about that.”
Lehigh
If you accomplish the following four things at the admissions interview, it is likely to be a success:
1.      Demonstrate good interpersonal skills.
2.      Show that you are knowledgeable and strongly interested in attending the college.
3.      Share information about yourself and your interests that make you desirable to the college.
4.      Get answers to important questions you have about the college.
Please chime in and share your insights.  If you interview prospective students for a college, what advice would you give?  If you recently had a college interview, what do you wish someone had told you, before the interview?

Five Things for High School Seniors To Do Now

For high school seniors, college application deadlines are just around the corner. Here are five things to do now, to be ready for fall application deadlines.

1. Finalize the college list and know the due dates. Generally, I recommend that students apply to no more than nine colleges, including stretch, match and safe schools. College application deadlines vary, and some schools have application due dates as early as October. For each school on your final college list, decide whether to apply early decision, early action or regular decision. Record the application and financial aid due dates.

2. Schedule Fall tests. If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT, or want to take them again, check that the scores will be available by the college due dates, and then register. October is often the last test date that will be scored in time.

3. Schedule college visits. Many colleges use “enthusiasm to attend” as one of their admissions criteria. Visiting is an excellent way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and to learn more about the college. If possible, schedule an interview when you visit.  You may be able visit some colleges that are in session, before high school resumes. 

4. Get teacher recommendations. If you did not ask teachers for recommendations in the Spring, do it as soon as school starts. Notify your guidance counselor if you will be applying to schools early admission, since they also need to prepare a recommendation and get other materials ready for your applications.

5. Finish applications, including essays early. Your applications are critical and should be treated as such. Your essays will take time to write and revise.  Plan enough time to revise each essay three or four times.  Make sure to proofread your applications, including essays carefully.

College Trends and Hot Topics – Part 3

The admissions personnel on the Higher Education Consultants Association college admissions panel answered the following questions on current trends and hot topics.
How do you know a student wrote the college essay? 
  • The prose style of a 17-year old is different than a 40-year old. 
  • Essays written by committee loose their force. 
  • The main essay and supplement essays are consistent.  If they are in doubt, they compare the essays to the SAT writing sample.

What gender issues are colleges facing?

  • Liberal arts colleges are becoming increasingly female.  Some liberal arts colleges are looking to keep the percent of men at greater than 40%.
  • There are too few women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

How should high school students spend their summer?

  • Do something constructive.
  • Test some idea, like “what is it like to work?” or “what is field x like?”

What is the role of the interview in the admissions decision?

  • The Muhlenberg College representative indicated that 75% of students are interviewed by their admissions staff on campus or off-site.  Their interview is both evaluative and informational.  The college wants to get at intangibles like what is the student hoping for and whether the student is kind and civil.
  • The Dartmouth College representative said that alumni conduct the interviews and score the prospective students on a 1 – 5 rating score.  41% of the students interviewed received a score of 4 or 5.  Dartmouth is interested in learning why the students want to attend their college.
  • At Rutgers University, students from the Pharmacy School and the Mason Gross School have interviews.

How are you using social media?

  • Rutgers University does not read the student’s Facebook page.
  • After students were accepted to Dartmouth College, they could participate in a Class of 2016 page.  High school students could video chat with current Dartmouth College students.

What’s happening with Spring admits?

  • Brandeis University has been accepting students who applied for the Fall term as Spring admits for seven or eight years.  This allows then to fill the space made available because students are studying abroad.  The students who are Spring admits have their own orientation, make a good transition to Brandeis University, and turn out well.
Do any of these answers surprise you?  Are there other questions that you wish they discussed?