Depending upon the school and your child’s interests, there are several members of a college’s staff or faculty with whom your child may wish to secure an interview:
Admissions Officers – The opportunity to speak directly with an admissions officer is a great way for your child to make his or her interest in a school known. Some schools do not offer admissions interviews, while other schools will offer interviews, but only as part of the application process. Students should call well in advance of a planned campus visit if you are trying to schedule this type of interview.
Coaches & Advisors – If your child will be participating in a club or playing on a sports team, try to schedule time to speak with the club’s advisor or team’s coach during your campus visit. Extra-curricular commitments may require a significant portion of your child’s time on campus; interviewing with a team coach or club advisor is a great way to help your child determine whether he or she is a good “fit” for that school’s program.
Faculty – If your child knows that he or she will be declaring a particular major or field of study, meeting with a member of that department’s faculty is another way to help your child evaluate his or her “fit” for a particular school or program. Generally, these interviews are conducted by a department head and are available only by request. If your child is planning to interview with a department head, make sure he or she enters the interview prepared—your child should be familiar with the department and its requirements, information. This is generally available on the department’s website.
Fine Arts Faculty – If your child is planning to major in one of the fine arts, an art, music, or dance performance may be required as part of admissions process. Student's need to contact the school’s department for more information on scheduling these types of interviews.
Alumni – Alumni interviews are usually held off campus and are generally available as part of the admissions process for schools that require an interview. If a student is unable to travel to the school’s campus for an interview with an admissions officer, alumni interviews are an opportunity for a school to evaluate a student remotely.
Students – Student interviews are generally less formal than an interview with an admissions officer or alumni, and do not usually factor into admissions decisions. Student interviews are a great way for your child to gain additional, first-hand information about the student experience at a particular school.
Do research ahead of time. Do NOT ask questions whose answers can be easily found on the school's website or college catalog. Do bring a copy of your resume, a copy of your transcripts, and a pen and pad of paper for note-taking. Never show up unprepared.
- Go into the interview with a goal in mind. This interview is an opportunity to evaluate whether a school is the right fit for the student, to convey that a school is his or her first choice, or to explain a semester of bad grades or other variations in his or her record. Make a plan for what your child should accomplish during the interview.
- Don’t be afraid to brag a bit. An admissions interview is a school’s opportunity to learn more about the student behind the transcripts. Encourage your child to be his or her own best advocate and expand upon his or her experiences and achievements.
- Explain away transcript discrepancies. Did your child have a semester of bad grades following an illness? Is he or she a hard worker who suffers with standardized tests—with the high grades and low test scores to prove it? In-person interviews are your child’s opportunity to give some context to the factual information in his or her transcript.
As you and your child make campus visit plans, keep in mind that it’s not always easy to secure an interview in the summer and fall. Many colleges only conduct interviews as part of the admissions decision process, and will therefore only grant interviews in the winter and spring to students who have already submitted an application. Other colleges will not conduct one-on-one interviews, period. Be sure to visit each school’s website, call ahead, and explore your options. Remember, it never hurts to ask!