The college interview: For some schools, it matters

Colleges and universities generally make at least one of the following three types of admissions interviews available to prospective students:

  1. An on-campus interview at the admissions office that can take place even before your child decides whether to apply to the school;
  2. A meeting with an admissions officer who, on the fall travel circuit, is visiting high schools in your local area (this type of interview can also take place before your child decides whether to apply to a school); and
  3. An interview with an alumni representative of the college or university who lives in your local area and who sets up an appointment with your child, usually within a month or so of the school’s receipt of your child’s application.

Some schools mandate or strongly recommend an interview for all applicants.  Others call it “optional” (students may take advantage of it if they wish) or describe it as “recommended but not required.”

Colleges and universities that weight the interview heavily, such as Connecticut College, Harvey Mudd CollegeMIT,  Smith College, and Wake Forest University, make this position clear on their Web sites.  Schools in this category generally work hard to make interviews available and accessible to candidates.  Morehouse College facilitates its required interview by allowing students to use a free online service to submit videotaped responses to a published list of questions (five questions, seven minutes maximum).

Read each school’s admissions guidelines carefully to determine on a case-by-case basis whether your child will have to factor in the interview as an important part of the application process.  When in doubt, contact the school directly to clarify.

Next up:  “Optional” versus “Recommended but not required” interviews