29 September 2015
When it comes to college interviewing, remember that you’re not the only one being interviewed. After submitting your personal essay, high school transcripts and SAT scores, it may feel like the admissions boards are the ones in the driver’s seat and you’re just along for the ride. In fact, once you reach the college visits and interview process, you have a lot of say in what happens next.
In order to get the most out of your college interview, it’s best to prepare some questions that will make a difference in whether or not you choose this school. Admissions interviewers will always give you a chance to vet them, so take the time to consider what’s most important to you in your college experience.
Here are some examples of great questions to ask your interviewer:
What kinds of internships or study abroad experiences are available?
Many schools have connections with organizations and businesses outside of the college in order to build a bridge between studying and real-life work experiences. Study abroad programs are also sponsored by most schools. Find out about the options at your school if this is an experience you would like to have. How does it work? What courses are available? Are language lessons included? Will you stay on campus at the other school or with a host family?
Is there a ___ team?
If you play a sport and would like to continue playing it at college, ask about it. You may want to know how competitive their team is. Did they rank high against other schools in the last few seasons? How much does the college invest in this sport? Is the equipment new and up to date? If this sport is something you’re passionate about, find out how valued your participation would be at this school.
What type of social activities does the college offer to students on weekends?
Social life is a big part of college. Even the most serious student needs to have some time to relax and enjoy some social activities. Find out what kind of entertainment the college organizes for its students. Are there dances, parties, concerts, movie screenings on the campus lawn? Do most students participate in these events or do a lot of students find entertainment off the campus?
What do students generally like most about this college? And what do they like least?
Interviewers can usually answer this question quite easily. They know the school’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a great question for you to get a feel of how happy you would be at this school. If their biggest strength is campus community and this is an important aspect for you, then you should check that in the plus column. If their biggest weakness is lack of investment in college sports but you’re not an athlete, then it wouldn’t make a difference for your decision.
How would you define the educational vision of the college?
Most colleges have a mission statement that defines their goals and shapes their policies and campus climate. Getting to know the most deeply-held values of a school is a great way to determine if you belong there or not. Some schools are very academically and research driven, striving for excellence at any cost. Others take a more holistic view of education and value the importance of social and cultural factors. It’s one of the best ways to find out the bottom line of the schools you are applying to.
How much interaction and attention can I expect from my professors?
Depending on the size of the school, you may have very limited access to your professors. At smaller schools, professors may be able to offer more personal attention and guidance to students. If this is an important aspect of learning to you, ask about it.
I’m planning to major in ___? What does the ___ department of this college have that makes it stand out from other schools?
If you know your major already and you’re aiming to attend one of the best schools in this field, go ahead and ask about it. Find out if this school can offer you the best opportunities or if they’re merely mediocre. Maybe they’re not known for this department, but they happen to have a great internship to offer in this area or next year they’re hiring one of the leading researchers in this field. The only way to find out is to ask.
Useful samples and examples: