How to Answer "What Can I Tell You About Our College?"

How to Answer "What Can I Tell You About Our College?"

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Nearly all college interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions of your own. In fact, it is one of the most common interview questions. The purpose of the interview isn't strictly for the college to evaluate you. You are also evaluating the college. During a good interview, the interviewer gets to know you well, and you get to know the college better. By the end of the interview, both you and the college should have a better sense of whether or not the college is a good match for you.

That said, when it is your turn to ask questions, realize that you are still being evaluated. Although you may have teachers and parents who have told you that "there are no stupid questions," there are, in fact, some questions that can reflect poorly on you.

Avoid These Questions in Your College Interview

In general, you don't want to ask questions like these during the interview:

  • "How big is your school?"
  • "Do you offer a major in _________? "
    These first two questions can be answered easily with a quick look at the college's website. By asking them, you suggest that you haven't done any research and you know almost nothing about the school to which you are applying. You can certainly raise questions about size and majors, but make sure they are specific and show you know something about the school. For example, you could ask, "With 18,000 students, do students at State get much personal attention from their professors?"
  • "How much do your graduates make? "
    A question about graduate salaries is certainly valid, and it may be something you want to consider before you accept an offer of admission from a college. However, the interview isn't the best time to ask the question. If you focus on salaries, you run the danger of coming across as someone who is overly materialistic. You don't want to sound as if you care more about a paycheck than your undergraduate experience. That said, feel free to ask about the career services provided by the college.
  • "What makes your college better than your competitor?"
    This question is also an important one to get answered, but you want to set the right tone for your interview. If you put your interviewer on the defensive, he or she might respond negatively. Admissions folks don't want to badmouth other schools. A little rewording can make a question like this more appropriate: "What features would you say distinguish Ivy College from other small liberal arts colleges?"
  • "How easy is it to get an A?"
    Think about how a question like this will come across-you will sound as if you want easy "A"s in college. The interviewer, of course, is looking for students who will work hard to earn their grades. You may very well be nervous about how difficult the college will be, but you should try to keep that anxiety out of the interview.

Good Questions to Ask in a College Interview

So what are some good questions to ask? In general, anything that presents you in a positive light and pushes beyond what you can learn from the college's website and brochures:

  • "I'm interested in folk dancing but didn't see it listed among your clubs. Would I be able to start a folk dancing club at your college? What's the process for starting a new student organization?"
  • "I see you have a self-designed major. What kinds of majors have some of your students designed? Could I use the self-designed major to bring together my interests in art and biology?"
  • "I see that all of your first-year students participate in service learning. In what kinds of projects do they often participate?"
  • "If I major in psychology, are there likely to be any opportunities for me to do an internship or work with a professor on research?"
  • "How would you describe the personality of your campus? In broad terms, what are the students like?"
  • "What would you say is the most remarkable feature of your college that isn't presented in your brochures or on your webpage?"

Be yourself and ask questions that you actually want to be answered. When done well, asking questions of your interviewer can be both fun and informative. The best questions show that you know the college relatively well and that your interest in the school is sincere.

A Final Word on College Interviews

As you prepare for your interview, be sure you have mastered these 12 common college interview questions, and it won't hurt to think about these 20 more interview questions as well. Also be sure to avoid these 10 college interview mistakes. The interview isn't the most important part of your application--your academic record is--but it is an important part of the admissions equation at a college with holistic admissions. Unsure what to wear to an interview? Here are some guidelines for men and women.


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