The biggest day in the college admissions process for most seniors is April 1st. This is the day students who applied regular decision will hear back from their schools. With this date having come and gone, the college admissions torch has now been passed on to a new class: the college graduating class of 2015.
With this in mind, I thought I would run through the part of the college admissions process that I had to do entirely alone, and the class of 2015 will do it alone too. It’s called the admissions interview and — having recently gone through it — I have a few thoughts on the experience.
First of all, don’t fret about your interview. It’s hardly as “ominous” as people make it out to be. Without exception among my group of friends, our interviewers were all very nice and really not that intimidating or scary. They are all active alumni who are trying to give your application a human dimension for the application committee to take into consideration.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, however. The night before my interview, I found the office location on MapQuest, so I knew where to go to meet my interviewer.
The morning of the interview I made sure I had plenty of time to get there, especially because it was in a part of town I didn’t know well. I also made sure to get there early too, because I believe arriving early sends a great message to the interviewer about your level of responsibility and desire to attend that college (if you don’t care about the school, you’re not going to arrive early for an interview!).
Dressing appropriately is also a must. And remember that it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. I showed up to my interview wearing a coat and tie, and my interviewer certainly noticed and even commented on my attire, mentioning how he too wore a coat and tie to his interview some 30 years earlier. This established a connection and a sense of respect at the beginning that I believe worked to my advantage throughout the interview.
Stay calm and be yourself. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself, either. Make sure to prepare a few things you want to mention about yourself before the interview, but other than that just respond honestly and remember that this isn’t the time to be humble. Don’t oversell yourself, but make sure they understand the full extent of your accomplishments, especially if they include things the interviewer may not be familiar with.
Don’t memorize and regurgitate your resume for the interview. The college already knows what’s on your application! It doesn’t hurt to mention some highlights, the things that you are most proud of, but give the interviewer something to report to the application committee about you that they don’t already know. I viewed the interview as an opportunity to reaffirm some of my proudest qualities and accomplishments but also to give the interviewer an idea of me that wasn’t readily apparent in my application, like my personality type.
In short, for your interview, be prepared but don’t worry. Dress up and get there early. Be proud of your accomplishments and give the interviewer something new and interesting to add to your application. Class of 2015, your interview may not be for a while, but hopefully this post will make it less “ominous” when it does roll around for you next year.