How to Prepare for College Interviews

Other than perhaps the SATs, nothing in the college application process is more nerve-wracking than the college interview.

Usually conducted by a local alumnus, every interview is different. However, there are some themes that will continue to crop up, and you’ll need to be ready for whatever is thrown your way.

How To Prepare for Your College Interviews

  • Know the school, and know it well. You will be asked poignant questions like, “Why X University?” Have the reasons you like the college mapped out in your head, and be ready to give specifics. For instance – Is the student-teacher ratio favorable? Is the school particularly strong in the degree program you’re considering? (Citing a university’s balmy climate isn’t likely to win many points.) Another rule of thumb: Do not ask the interviewer questions you should already know the answers to, such as “When is your financial aid deadline?”
  • Present well. It should go without saying: Dress appropriately. Don’t chew gum during the interview, and do not forget to turn your cell phone off. Also, don’t lose focus during the interview. Do make eye contact, do smile, do answer questions directly and respectfully, while letting your personality peek out now and again for authenticity.
  • Be honest about the future. An interviewer will want to know, not just why their college, but why college in general? You don’t need to have the next ten years mapped out. Perhaps you’re going to college to figure out what you want to do in life. That’s just fine. But be ready to say just that, along with what you hope to get out of college, and where you hope to go with your life.
  • Turn the interview around. Just about every interview will end with, “Do you have any questions for me?”Prepare for this “close” by putting together some thoughtful questions specific to the school.

College Interview Questions You Can Expect

These are the wild cards, and they demand preparation. A few practice rounds with parents, with the following questions thrown in, will go a long way in helping you to maintain composure and demeanor during the interview. For the record, these are the same kinds of wild card questions you may get in a job interview.

  • If you could do one thing differently in high school, what would that thing be? Is there a second thing you would do differently.
  • Can you explain, in detail, a specific challenge that you’ve overcome.
  • Is there something you’ve read within the past year or two that has special meaning or significance to you?
  • Who has been the most important person in your own self-development?
  • What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

Another Way To Prepare Well In Advance of Your College Interview

This cannot be stressed enough: extracurriculars matter. Involvement in sports, clubs, groups, and other school activities are definitely factored into the college admissions process.

One reason for that is because college interviewers are usually trying to get a feel for who a student is, above and beyond a GPA and SAT/ACT scores. Extracurricular activities are one of the best windows, and you can expect an interview to include a good amount of time on the topic. Remember, it’s not that important which extracurriculars you’re involved with. What does matter is that you can speak about it with passion and sincerity.

Another thing interviewers will try to discover is your study habits. Remember, it’s not just about your GPA; interviewers want to know you will be able to handle the responsibility of monitoring your own studies, once away at school.

To your successful college search,

Scott Weingold,


P.S. Follow this link for more College Admissions Guidance, or visit our Archive of College Made Simple Free Reports.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.