Most colleges offer admission interviews, and you might be wondering if you should partake in this very intimidating and scary ordeal. At the University of Rochester, admission interviews are “highly recommended,” which basically means you should do it. As someone who is generally reserved around strangers and never had much experience with interviews in general, I also wanted to avoid admission interviews as much as possible. However, after experiencing firsthand what the interviews are actually about, I want to encourage, no, urge all applicants to sign up for interviews. Here is why.
Your application is not going to college; you are.
No matter how personal and reflective your Common App essay is of your personality, in the end, an essay is just an essay. Admissions counselors will never know how interesting and charming you truly are from some 500 well-chosen words you have given them. In the end, no matter how hard you try, the college application is just a combination of hard numbers and facts, and they do not come close to describing who you truly are!
During my Rochester admission interview, I talked about how I was obsessed with Orange is the New Black, and my interviewer and I actually bonded over the show. I was also able to expand on my interests in art and film, and explain various opportunities that I wanted to participate in at Rochester. I talked about everything that I couldn’t on my application because there was simply no room. Through the interview, I was able to let the admissions counselors know exactly what I was interested in, and who I was as both a student and a person.
You can gain valuable information about the school firsthand from someone who knows the school very well.
My Rochester interview was conducted by an actual admissions counselor, but some interviews are conducted by alumni. This is purposely done so that you can ask specific questions about the school with people who are very knowledgeable. You can ask a wide variety of questions from academics to student life; there are certain things you cannot learn about a school simply from its website or guided tours.
It makes you more competitive for merit scholarships.
Interviews help counselors determine scholarship candidates, so if you’re planning on going for scholarships, you should definitely interview.
It is not as scary as you think it is.
The interviewer is not trying to interrogate you to find out what a bad person you are. The interview is supposed to be a conversation about who you are and why you are interested in the school. Sure, there are varying degrees of formality depending on the school; Rochester interviews are very casual, but I know some friends who rehearsed the night before and simply answered questions that were given to them. But even if it is a “formal” interview, you will still have an opportunity to ask questions and show who you are—no one will stop you from talking.
I remember that my Rochester interview took place in the lobby of a hotel, which I thought was very intimidating (the lobby was very dark, lighted only by red candles—weird). However, as the interview went on, it naturally became a conversation about various topics: our shared obsession for Orange is the New Black, visiting Korea, how delicious Korean food is, and strangely, K-Pop. After the interview ended, the first thing that popped into my head was: it wasn’t that bad. Not bad at all.
Have I convinced you to sign up for an interview yet? If so, here are some tips to help you:
1. Prepare questions beforehand.
Don’t memorize a long list of questions, but have a few in mind. Asking questions shows that you are truly interested in the school. The interviewer will be expecting questions, so you better ask them!
2. Think about what you want to say, in regards to yourself.
There’s probably a million interesting things about you, but you need to narrow down the list and think about how you want to present yourself to the interviewer. Being yourself is the best, but that doesn’t mean you should suddenly talk about your love for puppies out of the blue. Think about certain qualities or interests that you can connect back to why you want to apply to the school. I talked about my love for watching movies and connected that to my interest in studying art history and film.
3. Always go with business casual if you are unsure of how to dress.
Good luck! (: