Feb 21, 2007

Admission Tips: The Personal Interview

Although it is relatively rare that a personal interview is required, many colleges recommend that you take this opportunity for a face-to-face discussion with a member of the admissions staff. Read through the application materials to determine whether or not a college places great emphasis on the interview. If they strongly recommend that you have one, it may work against you to forego it. In contrast to a group interview and some alumni interviews, the personal interview is viewed both as an information session and as further evaluation of your skills and strengths. You will meet with a member of the admissions staff, who will be assessing your personal qualities, high school preparation, and capacity to contribute to undergraduate life at the institution. On average, these meetings last about 45 minutes - a relatively short amount of time in which to gather information and leave the desired impression - so here are some suggestions on how to make the most of it.

Scheduling Your Visit
Students usually choose to visit campuses in the summer or fall of their senior year. Both times have their advantages. A summer visit generally allows for a less hectic visit and interview. Visiting in the fall, on the other hand, provides the opportunity to see what campus life is like in full swing. Always make an appointment and avoid scheduling more than two college interviews on any given day. Multiple interviews in a single day hinder your chances of making a good impression, and your impressions of the colleges will blur into each other as you make your way from campus to campus.

Know the basics about the college before going for your interview. Read the college catalog. You will be better prepared to ask questions that are not answered in the literature and that will give you a better understanding of what the college has to offer. You should also spend some time thinking about your strengths and weaknesses and, in particular, what you are looking for in a college education. You will find that as you get a few interviews under your belt, they will get easier.

Asking Questions
Inevitably, your interviewer will ask you, "Do you have any questions?" Not having one may suggest that you're unprepared or, even worse, not interested. When you do ask questions, make sure that they are ones that matter to you. The questions that you ask will give the interviewer some insight into your personality and priorities. Avoid asking questions that can be answered in the college literature - again, a sign of being unprepared. Although the interviewer will undoubtedly pose questions to you, the interview should not be viewed merely as a question-and-answer session. If a conversation evolves out of a particular question, so much the better.

Be Yourself
In the end, remember to relax and be yourself. Don't drink jitters-producing caffeinated beverages prior to the interview, and suppress nervous fidgets like leg-wagging, finger-drumming, or bracelet-jangling. Your interviewer will expect you to be somewhat nervous, which will relieve some of the pressure. Consider this an opportunity to put forth your best effort and to enhance everything that the college knows about you up to this point.

Here are some questions you may be asked in your interview:

* What courses have been most difficult for you?

* How would you describe your high school?

* If you could change one thing about your high school, what would it be?

* What do you do in your spare time?

* What do you want to know about our activities?

* Have you worked up to your potential?

* What other colleges are you considering?

* What do you expect to be doing seven years from now?

* Have you ever thought of not going to college? What would you do?

Here are some questions you may want to ask during your interview.

* How do you treat AP scores?

* Is there a limit on the number of AP credits you will give?

* How do you match roommates?

* What new offerings are there in my major?

* Is there an opportunity for me to design my own major?

* Are there any new buildings being planned?

* How does student advisement work?

* What is your system for course selection?

Information provided by Petersons.com

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