Picture this. You are sitting in front of your computer, smiling as wide as you can. You hope the person at the other end of the video call can’t see you sweat. Your heart is pounding so hard that you can hear it through your headphones. Yes, this is it. This is your college admissions interview!
As many of you have submitted your college applications for the 2021-2022 college admissions season, it’s important to update your calendar and check your inbox regularly for interview invitations.
You probably already know which schools on your list offer admissions interviews and whether the interview helps you demonstrate your interest in attending those colleges. Continue reading
Have you ever heard of an informational interview?
The purpose of an informational interview is you are reaching out to a professional to learn more about a specific field of interest, or their job and career. Fun fact, it’s actually because of an informational interview that I ended up becoming a college counselor at Insight! I was curious about college counseling, I reached out to a number of local organizations, and three years later I’m still here happily with Insight!
The first step is to think “what is my goal” – what exactly is it that you want to get from the person you’re reaching out to. Are you looking for an internship? Are you looking for more information about that field? It’s important to make the “ask” of your email to this person as specific as possible. If you just start emailing everyone that works in a tech company because you’re interested in that field, it’s less likely someone will take you up on your request. Rather, be specific about what you’re asking, and why you’re asking this specific person.
Secondly, write out a short and sweet email targeted to the person and/or area that you are reaching out to. In the email you want to include your name, if you have any background experience that is relevant, and ask for something! It’s one of those funny things, you may feel awkward asking for something, but people often enjoy being asked for something like this because it shows how much they have accomplished. Letting them know that you are aware of their work and achievements, and want to learn from them, is a pretty great thing to share.
Here is an example of an email template you should NOT follow:
I am interested in Geology. Please can you give me an internship?
The above email is impersonal and it shows little knowledge about the professor and why you are reaching out to them. Remember, before this contact with them, the recipient most likely doesn’t know who you are, which means they aren’t very likely to look at an email like that and say “Yes, ok, I will give this person an internship”.
Now, here is an email template that may be closer to what you will send:
“Dear Professor name,
I hope this email finds you well. My name is student name and I am very passionate about Geology. I am reaching out to you today because I have learned about your research into x area and am incredibly interested to learn more!
I particularly liked x part of research because it relates to a project I recently completed. My project was about project info here.
I would love to talk with you for 10 minutes to learn a little more about your research and my future in the Geology field. I want to be respectful of your time, so please let me know what works best for you.
Thank you very much for your time!
Once you have organized a time to speak with the target of your informational interview, make sure you come prepared with questions that can help you with your “ask”. Depending on who you are speaking with, this may be questions about research, what it was like to major in a specific subject, how they achieved something specific – whatever it may be, do your homework. Being prepared shows that you really value their time and will make a great impression. And remember, while talking on the phone can be a little daunting, making the effort to go further than an email will set you apart from others that stick to behind a computer screen communication only. If one of your end goals is to get an internship, or maybe even a job with this person, putting in the time to set yourself apart from the rest is vital.
Good luck with your informational interviews, enjoy yourself and enjoy learning more from the great people you get to speak with!
All the best,
So you’ve decided to do a college interview. Congrats! This is a great opportunity for you and your dream school to get better acquainted.
It’s normal to feel a bit nervous before an interview, but by preparing and preparing some more with our list of common college interview questions, and understanding how to give answers that show you truly understand your interviewer’s priorities, you’ll be able to give stronger interviews in no time!
Tell Me About Yourself
‘I go to high school, I’m a junior, I have a dog and I like soccer,’ is NOT how to answer this question. Rather than giving your interviewer a long rambling list, make this question work for you by highlighting just three things about you that you want your interviewer to know.
What kind of things should you talk about? What’s the most meaningful and unique to you, of course! It could be activities you’ve been involved with, a unique experience you had, your academic interests, values or goals, fun facts or even your family or cultural background. Here are a couple sample answers:
Well a little bit about me: I’ve been playing the flute since I was old enough to walk, and haven’t put it down ever since! I also spend far too much time on Reddit, generally reading about sci-fi or crazy scientific breakthroughs. I’m also the oldest of three kids, so have to watch way too much Disney channel.
I used to think medicine was kind of gross, but that all changed when I had to help my grandpa recover from his surgery and was able to see how healthcare totally transformed his life. I enjoy playing sports like lacrosse and soccer, and if I had a superpower it would be to speak every language in the world.
Note how each of these answers tells me much more about this student than I’d know from a resume, and also reveal a little bit of their interests, personality, and quirks. No need to try to come across as perfect- acting like you’re flawless typically comes around as anything but!
Why Do You Want to Study This Major?
How did you discover your passion for history? Or love of physics? Consider telling your interviewer about that moment (or series of moments) when you realized this interest was something you wanted to turn into a career, or how you’ve developed this interest. If you’re applying undeclared that’s totally fine too, but be prepared to talk about a couple of the majors you’re considering, and try to think through what your different major interests, like International Relations or Film and Media Studies, have in common.
I had been working as a camp counselor for a couple summers and loving it, when I thought to myself, ‘hey what if I actually became a teacher?’ I also love sports, and that’s why I’m planning on majoring in education and want to be a P.E. teacher one day.
It all started as series of columns I did in my journalism class on local school board elections. I loved talking with people and understanding the issues on all sides and what a huge difference people could make in education, which is why I’m studying political science and hope to work in local government.
Why Do You Want to Go To This College?
This question shouldn’t come as a surprise, so come prepared! Have at least three academic reasons why “Dream University” can make your goals come true, and also have at least two non-academic reasons you love the school. That way you’ll be prepared to talk about “Dream University” no matter what topic comes up.
I’m drawn to your ecology studies program and love how you have a conservation focus. I was really interested to see that you recently had some top ecologists give a lecture at your school and even have opportunities for undergraduate students to do field research with actual fish and wildlife. However, I also love how you have an experimental college, where students are encouraged to teach each other fun subjects like slack-lining or Vietnamese cooking!
Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
Hint: ‘No’ is not an acceptable answer. If you’re applying to a college, you should be excited about it! Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate this curiosity and enthusiasm. Great questions include asking your interviewer about their own experience and asking specific questions. However, be aware your interviewer may not be equally familiar with all departments or special programs.
What do you wish you’d known as a freshman?
What’s something unexpected about Dream University?
How did going to Dream University prepare you for your job?
Tell Me About Your Activities (This One Is Deceptively Simple!)
So you think you’re going to talk about how you made varsity tennis, or maybe about your love of hip-hop dance, but the truth is your interviewer is also trying to assess your level of commitment and your values.
Talking about how your dance partner made you look bad is not a good idea, nor is pretending that you are the world’s best debater when you’re really not. Be prepared to talk about your accomplishments, how long you’ve been involved with your activity, and what aspects of your activity keep you coming back for more. It can also show maturity and humility to mention the parts of your activity that don’t come as easily to you that you are still working on.
Done Preparing These Questions? Good Work!
All and all, if you prepare for your college interview ahead of time, keep in mind the lessons of theater and improv, and show up with a positive attitude, you’ll be able to not only learn more about your Dream University but also truly shine as a prospective student.
All the best for your college interviews,