College: Tours and Interviews

Some colleges require an interview as part of the admissions process but most do not. It is still important for you to visit the college at which you may spend four years of your life. The visit and/or interview may help you in your selection of a college or to verify your choice of a school.

  • Interviews can follow several formats. It can be designed to share information or to evaluate you as a candidate for admission. The information type of interview can be either an individual or group interview. Some colleges use the evaluative interview to determine your viability as an applicant.
  • Just as no two colleges are alike, neither are any two interviewers alike. They range from the very friendly to the coolly reserved. Yet an interview is much more than a custom; it is the best opportunity for you to get to know the college and for the college to gain insights about you. Along with your school records, test scores, activities, and evaluations, the interview can distinguish you from the crowd and give you individual identity. Don’t be stressed out but be prepared for some challenging questions.
  • Here are some hints to make your interviewing experience pleasant and to decrease your anxiety:
    • Schedule the appointment well in advance by email or phone. Many colleges will require several months advance notice during the most sought-after times, usually September to December of the senior year.
    • Schedule your first choice last. Practice your interview techniques at colleges that are far down on your list of preferred choices and leave your first choice colleges until last.
    • Never fail to keep an appointment. If you absolutely must cancel, be sure to call regarding the cancellation.
    • Be well informed about the contents of the college catalog in advance of the interview. Try not to ask questions that can be answered by reading the school’s brochure or catalog.
    • Bring a copy of your latest high school transcript and test scores to present to the interviewer if requested.
    • Develop a resume of your school activities, community involvement, work experience, and hobbies. Be prepared to answer questions concerning them and correlate them with the college you are visiting.
    • Have your parents with you when you visit. However, be sure you give the interviewer time to talk to you alone. Remember that you are the one seeking admission to college.
    • Act naturally and be yourself. The interviewer wants to know you as you are, not as you wish you were. Do not be “on stage.”
    • Review some of the questions in the sections that follow with a friend, parent, teacher, or counselor. This will reduce anxiety and nervousness when the actual interview takes place.
    • Be prepared with a list (either mental or concisely written) of points you wish to have clarified and/or questions you would like answered.
    • Give credit where credit is due. If your school is the reason you have done well, say so. If a subject is your favorite because of a superior teacher, pay him or her the compliment.
    • Have a choice of career or major in mind. It gives you something to discuss
    • Tell the interviewer about the subjects you like best and/or least and be able to give thoughtful reasons for such judgments.
    • Plan to stay on the campus long enough to see it in action and try to visit a class or dormitory. By doing so, you will be better able to decide whether this college is the one best suited for you.
    • Be honest; say what you mean and mean what you say. Honesty pays.
    • Dress properly. Being neat, clean, and conservatively dressed will never hurt you.
    • Be prompt. Allow sufficient time to arrive at the school before your scheduled interview. Walk around if possible. Call if you will be late for the appointment.
    • Mail your thank you note. The interviewer will appreciate this gesture.

Questions that Students are Often Asked at a College Interview

  • How did you first hear about our college?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your career goals (long-range and short-range)?
  • What accomplishments have you achieved or activities have you participated in that have a particular effect on you and your life?
  • What might you be interested in as a future profession?
  • What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the most significant contribution you have made to your school?
  • How do you spend your leisure time?
  • What teacher impressed you the most in the past year?
  • What three books have impressed you most in the past year?
  • What were the three most important events in your lifetime?
  • What decisions have you most regretted? Why?
  • What are your priorities in selecting a college?
  • How familiar are you with this college and its programs?
  • Where do you see yourself in four years?
  • Discuss your most stimulating intellectual experience.
  • What problems are the most critical for the U.S. in the next five years?
  • Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
  • Are there any questions that you want to ask?
  • Why should we accept you at our college?

Questions Students Should Ask at College Interviews
Visit the college while it’s in session so that you will be able to talk not only with the admissions officer, but also with the students who attend the college. You may wish to ask some of these questions while you’re visiting and interviewing:

  • Are you familiar with my high school? Is there anything I can tell you about it?
  • How many of your graduates go on to graduate school?
  • What do students do on weekends?
  • Can you tell me about the placement record of graduates with major companies?
  • How successful have graduates from my intended major been in getting jobs in their own or related academic areas?
  • What athletic teams and clubs are the most popular here?
  • Do you place more emphasis on class rank or standardized test scores in your admissions decisions?
  • What percent of the entering freshman class return for their sophomore year? What percent graduate in four years?
  • How large are your freshman introductory classes?
  • How do I compare academically with students already attending this school?
  • Is there a computer network from the school library that can be accessed by all dorm rooms?
  • If majoring in an area requiring certification, licensing, etc., ask whether the program will qualify you for entrance into the profession and prepare you for state or national certifying examinations.
  • What are the chances of my being admitted based upon my high school record?
  • What attention is the college presently paying to such topics as drug-alcohol counseling and campus safety?

The Campus Tour
The campus tour is usually conducted by a student. These students are trained to show you the important parts of the campus, to answer your questions, and to give you information about the school. The tour usually lasts for an hour and will include visits to the library, student center, athletic facilities, a dorm, a classroom, and possibly a laboratory. This is a good time to ask a student questions that would give you a student’s perspective. Don’t be hesitant about asking questions that will assist you in the decision-making process but remember that your tour guide may be submitting a report on your visit. Many families find it helpful to take pictures and keep a list of what was photographed. This may help you to later distinguish among schools.

Possible questions to ask on the tour include:

  • Where do students study?
  • Are there quiet floors in the dorms?
  • Are there single sex dorms?
  • Are there substance-free dorms?
  • Do any of the co-ed dorms have co-ed bathrooms?
  • What percentage of students remain on campus on the weekends?
  • What are the library’s hours?
  • Is there a fitness center on campus for students who are not athletes?
  • Are there fraternities and sororities on campus? What is the percentage of students that participate? What is social life like for students who do not participate in Greek life (members of a fraternity or sorority)?
  • What intercollegiate or intramural sports are available? What division?
  • What services are available to students (for example, general or career counseling, free health care, tutoring if needed, help finding off-campus employment during the school year or the summer, junior year abroad)?
  • Are the professors and other instructors accessible? Are their office hours posted?


  • What activities and services are available to help students get settled (academically and socially) during their first year?
  • How big are the classes?
  • (Ask students) How easy is it to meet with faculty?
  • (Ask students) Are you able to register for the classes you want?
  • What is the total cost of attending the college?
  • What types of financial aid does the college offer and how do I apply?
  • Are all freshmen assigned to an academic advisor?
  • Where do most freshmen live?
  • Can I take a tour?
  • What activities are available for students?
  • Who teaches the courses for first-year students?
  • How successful are the college’s graduates in finding jobs?
  • What services (such as transportation and shopping) are available locally?
  • What is there to do on weekends? Do most students stay or leave campus on weekends?

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