The College Visit and the Interview

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1 Chapter 8 The College Visit and the Interview College Representatives on Your High School Campus As you are determining which colleges and universities will be included on your final college application list, keep in mind an admission representative from that college or university may visit APIS to offer an information session. This would be another great way of determining if the campus is a good fit. Notices around APIS, Naviance, and announcements in the senior seminar class report the times and dates admission officers will be visiting APIS. There are several reasons to take the time to meet with college representatives: The college representatives who visit our school are usually the people who will read your file when you apply. These visits provide valuable opportunities to learn more about various colleges, especially if you will not have the opportunity to visit their campuses before you apply. Even if you are applying early, you should not ignore these opportunities. Remember you may not be accepted by your early decision/action choice. Be prepared and be informed. Your college counselor can advise you more effectively if you have met with college representatives and discussed their institutions. The more informed you are, the better decisionmaker you will be. For students applying to visual arts programs, because the representatives travel from so far, they may also do portfolio reviews while they are here. The College Visit If possible, please visit the colleges on your college list. If you are able to see these schools, it is important for you to plan out your visits in advance and set aside time to see all the colleges on your list. This means visiting a range of schools: reach schools, possible schools and likely schools. If you cannot visit, we 39

2 encourage watching virtual tours on each college s website and contacting APIS students currently attending each college. Please see your college counselor for addresses of our alumni on college campuses. How do you prepare for a college visit? 1. Check out their website! Most colleges will have a Visit Us page that offers information on everything you can do during a visit to the college. They may also have hotel suggestions, directions, sightseeing suggestions, etc. The college s website should be your first stop in this process! 2. Determine the distance between various campuses. Try not to schedule more than two visits a day. 3. Check the internet to: See if they offer information sessions. If so, find out the times of the information sessions. Find out the length of the information sessions. Find out if you must call in advance to reserve a space in the information session. See if they offer tours. If so, find out the times of the tours. Find out the length of the tours. Find out what you will see on the tour (dorm room, cafeteria, etc.). Find out if the tour is guided by a current student. Find out if you must call in advance to reserve a spot on the tour. See if they offer interviews. If so, who conducts this interview (current student, alumni, member of the admissions staff)? Find out if the interview is evaluative or informational. Contact faculty members in the department in which you wish to study. Contact coaches if you are interested in being a recruited athlete. Contact other specialists on campus relating to your interests. See if the college recommends places to stay, places to eat, or other things in the area. 4. Know the college you are going to visit before you step out of the car! Read the catalogue, website, and view books thoroughly; have at hand the questions you cannot discern from the reading. If most of those concerns are answered during your information session or the tour, have another set of questions ready that are more personal and have to do with your interests. For example: You love being a part of theatre life at APIS. You have determined from reading that there is a strong theatre department at the college you are visiting. You see the theatre on your tour and learn that your tour guide has never been to one of the shows, but heard from friends that they re great! What do you ask the interviewer? You might ask whether, as a non-theatre major, you can: take advanced courses in the department, try out for all productions with any chance of being cast, or find alternative options for your thespian enthusiasm. If you wish to major in theatre, you should ascertain whether an audition is required. If so, where, how will they be scheduled, and what should you prepare beforehand? 40

3 This example can be employed for almost any and every curricular or extracurricular interest. Just use your imagination, and practice. Remember, you do not want to leave the campus without the interviewer knowing something about your particular passions and talents not by bragging, but through the questions you pose. 5. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and read the letters to the editor. Discover what the real issues on campus are. 6. Study the bulletin boards and kiosks to get a sense of the social life. Graffiti can provide insight into the campus. Have a cup of coffee in the student center and watch the students interact and socialize. Campus Tour 1. Call ahead or check the college or university s website to determine what times tours are offered and how far in advance you should arrive on campus. 2. While on tour, be sure to get your tour guide s name. Remember your tour guide is just ONE of the students who attend that university or college. Try not to let them determine your whole impression of the college. 3. Ask your tour guide appropriate questions about the campus. If they do not know the answer to one of your questions, ask them to point you in the direction of someone who can. The College Interview For some colleges, the interview is a very important part of the process. The purpose of the college interview is twofold to give the admissions committee a more in-depth understanding of an applicant, both academically and personally, beyond the information presented in an interview, and to give the interviewee the opportunity to talk about the things that are most important to them and a platform to answer more personal/specific questions. Even if the interviewer announces, We do not count interviews in our consideration of candidates; this is strictly an opportunity for you to ask whatever questions you may have, treat the conversation professionally. They will note with pleasure a well-informed, thoughtful student, who asks alert, engaging questions; they will also note those who do not. Before You Arrive on Campus 1. Make sure you visit the college s website to determine their policy regarding interviews restrictions on when students can interview, the availability of on-campus interviews vs. alumni interviews, etc. 41

4 For example, some colleges like Princeton offer small group interviews instead of individual interviews. Plan ahead! 2. Take time to research the institution you will be visiting. Be prepared to answer challenging questions such as: Why are you interested in attending our college? How would you contribute to our community? 3. Prepare to discuss your academic qualifications, courses you have taken, academic strengths, areas of interest, and/or any difficulties you have encountered. 4. Prepare to talk about your extracurricular and/or athletic achievements, any leadership positions you have held, and community service projects you have been a part of. 5. Prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer, but don t ask questions that are already answered in the literature. Ask questions that show you have read the literature. 6. Look to friends, family, and your college counselor to prepare you for the interview process. 7. Practice! Practice! Practice! Ask everyone you know to run through a practice interview with you. 8. Plan to dress to impress for the interview. 9. Print out directions, parking information, interview location information, phone numbers, and distances/times between colleges or hotels. Always allow an extra half hour for travel between locations. 10. If you are running late or have to cancel, please call the admissions office as soon as possible. Upon Arrival for Your Interview 1. Early is on time. On time is late. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of your interview. If you are going to be late, call ahead of time to alert them to your timing. 2. Check in with the receptionist YOURSELF and fill out all the necessary paperwork. 3. If you are chewing gum, throw it out. 4. If you are wearing a hat, take it off. 42

5 5. If you are wearing sunglasses, take them off. 6. Dress comfortably, but neatly no hats, t-shirts, jeans or shorts, and sneakers! For girls, watch the length of your skirt. Clean, combed hair is also a must! 7. If you have a cell phone, leave it with your parents or turn it off even a phone on vibrate can still be heard when ringing. 8. Leave your parents at a distance. The interviewer wants to interview you, not your parents. The Interview 1. At most schools, the interview will last between twenty minutes and an hour. 2. First impressions are very important! Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and clearly introduce the person or people you brought with you to campus. 3. The interviewer s job is to get to know you, not trip you up or make you suffer. 4. Generally conversational in nature, the interviewer s questions will relate to what they want to find out about you: How much do you know about the college? Why are you interested in the college? How much do you know about yourself? What will make you a positive addition to the college? 5. At most colleges, the interviewer is looking to answer these questions in the context of three categories: Academic performance Extracurricular activities Personal qualities 6. Look your interviewer in the eye, consider carefully the questions he or she asks (don t be afraid to pause for a moment and think), and remember to stay calm. Enjoy the conversation they will appreciate your kindness and interest in them. 7. Stay calm and remain focused throughout the interview. 8. There are no right answers, just honest and positive answers. 43

6 9. Know yourself, your high school transcript, and your resume of accomplishments. 10. Speak confidently without boasting; but also be willing to initiate conversation about your achievements. 11. Don t slouch or mumble one-word answers. Give the impression that you WANT to be at the interview. 12. Ask a question or two at the end of the interview. It s ok to write them down and you don t have to limit yourself to only what you have written. After the Interview 1. You will return to the lobby to meet with the rest of your party. This is a great time for whomever you brought with you to campus to ask questions. 2. Remember: the interviewer is not evaluating your parents or guests! 3. If you have discussed specific programs during or after your interview (and if you are actually interested in these programs), ask the interviewer if there is any literature you can take home. 4. Make sure you have the interviewer s name and title or business card. 5. Be mindful of the time and don t keep the interviewer in the lobby for too long they might have another interview to prepare for. 6. Thank the interviewer politely and with a firm handshake. 7. Send a thank you note once you get home. If possible, steer clear of generic thank you notes incorporate one or two of the things you talked about during the interview or your overall impressions of campus. An ed thank you note is acceptable; however, a hand-written note is more personal and more memorable. 8. Evaluate the interview for yourself and get ready for the next one. Common Interview Questions 1. Why are you interested in this college? 2. Tell me about yourself. 3. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a student? 4. Do you like your high school? What would you have done to improve it? 5. Do you like your teachers? Describe your favorite teacher? 44

7 6. Tell me about a time you were faced with a difficult challenge and overcame it. 7. If you could fight one cause or make a difference somehow, what would you choose to do? 8. What are you interested in studying? Why are you interested in studying this? 9. Which of your extracurricular activities has been most satisfying? 10. How do you spend a typical day after classes? 11. How did you spend your last few summers? 12. How would you describe your hometown? 13. Tell me how you have engaged in the life of your community? 14. What other colleges are you considering? 15. What are some of your criteria or considerations in choosing a college? 16. What do you hope to major in and why? College admissions officers ask these questions in order to answer the following three questions about you: 1. Can the candidate do the work? 2. Does the candidate have a talent or ability that would make the college more interesting? 3. Does the student have a good reason for wanting to attend this college? 12 Things to Consider When Visiting a College Advice given by John Mahoney, Director of Admissions at Boston College 1. Inquire about the attention to undergraduates by the institution. 2. How does the college support student development social, intellectual, spiritual, and moral through their advising, counseling, residential, and academic programs? 3. What is the accessibility of faculty? Are the students known by the faculty? 4. What percentage of classes is taught by graduate students or teaching assistants? Are the introductory courses taught by faculty or graduate students? 5. What is the average class size? Do not necessarily focus on the student to faculty ration which is less revealing. How many faculty teach and how often? 6. Does the institution seek a balance between teaching and research? 45

8 7. What is the technology usage like on campus? How contemporary are the classrooms? How is technology integrated into the academic program? 8. What are the value added opportunities? For example: Foreign Studies institutional programs overseas and linkage with other institutions Research availability of undergraduate research both paid and unpaid Internships options during the academic year and summer 9. The college will be your home for four years. What are the accommodations like? How is the food? 10. Consider the safety and security on campus. Colleges have to share crime statistics and security plans when asked and many have them on their websites. 11. What are the retention and graduation rates? One measure of a thriving community is if students are staying enrolled and graduating on time. 12. What are the outcomes? Ask about the results with graduate schools and employment information. Ask about the career counseling services and even visit the office for more information. How are graduates assisted as they seek employment after graduation? 46

9 College Visit Worksheet Complete the following section of this worksheet before you visit the college campus. Name of College: Location: Date of Visit: Time of Campus Tour: Time of Interview: Location: Location: Questions You Want to Ask: 47

10 Complete the following section of the worksheet while you visit the college campus. Names of People You Spoke to: Campus Facilities: Comments on how the campus strikes you. Student Life: Comments about student life on campus. Is there a good chance I could fit in with the students? Academic Factors: Comments about academic factors. Does this seem like the right place for me to study and learn? Overall Impressions: What did you like best? What did you like least? Other factors you want to remember about this college. Overall assessment of how this college fits you: Not Very Well Extremely Well 48

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