Campus Visits & College Interviews

Tips for making the most of campus visits and college interviews

Campus visits are the best way to get a firsthand look at each school on your list—and get a sense of whether you’ll be happy there. A scheduled visit is also an opportunity to have a personal interview with admissions and financial aid counselors and to take a student-guided tour.

Click on the tabs below to get tips for making the most of your campus visits and any interviews you may have now—or in the future.

HOW TO ARRANGE YOUR CAMPUS VISITS

As you plan your visit, be sure to:

  • Plan for a good time. Your goal is to meet students and faculty, so plan to visit when the college is in session. Spring of junior year and late summer (after college classes resume) or early September of your senior year are great times to visit.
  • Schedule your visit online or by phone. Visit the websites of the colleges you are interested in or call admissions offices to find out when they’re holding visiting days and open houses. 
  • Schedule time for seeing different aspects of the school. Sign up for a tour and an info session, arrange to sit in on a class, and set up meetings with faculty or coaches if desired.
  • Ask if an admissions interview is encouraged. Some schools encourage student interviews, while others don’t. If your school holds interviews, schedule yours early so you can start preparing.
  • Consider calling the financial aid office. If you have questions about college financing, make an appointment with a financial aid counselor during your visit.
  • Arrange your accommodations. If you can spend the evening at the school, find out if the school will provide a meal and/or overnight accommodations on campus.

Can't make a campus visit?

Try to connect by phone or email with students, professors, or admissions counselors. Contact the admissions office to ask if they can make connections for you. Or, take an online tour on the school’s website or other websites like eCampusTours.com.

WHAT TO DO DURING YOUR CAMPUS VISIT

While on campus, try to:

  • Talk to students on campus. Try to get a sense of how they feel about the college. What do they like? Dislike? What makes the college unique?
  • Notice what’s on bulletin boards and in the campus newspaper. What types of events are happening around campus or town? What types of issues are students writing about in their school newspaper?
  • Note the activities, clubs, and sports available. Do they have a wide range of activities and clubs? Are there activities that interest you?
  • Picture yourself there. Does it feel comfortable or not? What works for you—and what doesn’t?
  • Take lots of photos! You’ll find the images helpful later when you want to recall the visit and your feelings about the school.

WHAT TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE ON CAMPUS

Whether you’re walking the campus alone or touring the facilities with an admissions guide, notice the:

  • Campus bookstore. What can be bought there? How do prices compare with off-campus stores?
  • Career planning office. What resources are available? Is job placement data for graduates available?
  • Classrooms. Are they set up lecture style? Around a common table? With individual desks? What is the technology in the room?
  • Computer lab. How many computers are available? Are lab techs available for troubleshooting?
  • Dining halls. How many are there? What kinds of foods and meal plans are offered?
  • Library. How big is it? Do students study there?
  • Residence halls. Are there nonsmoking floors? Coed or single-gender dorms? Quiet hours? A common area? Do students hang out together?
  • Sports complex and other extracurricular facilities. Are the facilities what you’re looking for? When are they open? Can you talk to a coach during your visit?
  • Student center. What facilities are offered? What supports are available, such as a writing center, tutoring, or a health center?

Make the most of your college visit

Bring this helpful handout along on your campus visit as a reminder of the things to see and do while you’re there.

HOW TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW

For any interview—from meetings with admissions counselors to interviews with a potential internship or job—preparation is key. Here’s how to prepare for your next interview:

  • Do your research. Look into the school or employer (and any job requirements) to understand what they’re looking for in a student or employee. And look up the admissions counselor or hiring manager to get an idea of the person who will be interviewing you.
  • Practice your responses to potential interviewer questions. Based on your research, think about what kinds of questions you may be asked—and prepare some well-thought-out answers. Depending on the interview’s purpose, you may be asked questions about your:
    • Interest in the particular school or job
    • Academics and extracurricular activities or interests
    • Personality strengths and weaknesses
    • Past work experiences
    • Career goals and expectations
    • Handling of difficult situations in the past
    • Ideas for how to solve hypothetical problems or situations
  • Create a list of questions for your interviewer. For a school interview, come up with questions about campus life and academics. For an in internship or job interview, prepare questions about job requirements, the work environment, and advancement opportunities.
  • Dress for success. Pick out your interview attire ahead of time and make sure you have everything clean and ready to go (outfit, shoes, accessories). The goal is to appear mature, professional, and well-groomed—while still feeling comfortable and like yourself.
  • Plan your timing. Make sure you know how to get to the interview location—and do a test run ahead of time if you can. Leave plenty of time for transportation issues (such as traffic, parking, or late trains) as well as time for going through security or checking in with the receptionist as needed.
  • Gather everything ahead of time. Put everything you’ll need in one spot the night before the interview. This includes your clothes, keys, public transit tickets or money, ID (if needed to get into the building), business cards (if you have them), and interview notes.

Questions for the admissions interview

Download this helpful list of questions to help prepare for your admissions interview.

HOW TO HAVE A SMOOTH INTERVIEW

Whether it’s an admissions interview or an interview for your next internship or professional job, these tips can help you make it a smooth experience:

  • Arrive on time. Nothing says unprepared like being late or rushed. Plan to get to your interview early so you can arrive calm and relaxed.
  • Turn off your cell phone. You do not want the embarrassment of your mom’s special ring interrupting your interview. Turn off your phone before you head into the building.
  • Make a positive impression from the start. From the moment you walk in to the moment you walk out, be positive, friendly, and professional. This includes treating everyone—from the receptionist to security guards to people you pass in the hall—with warmth and respect.
  • Project confidence and attentiveness. It’s natural to be nervous. But do your best not to let it show. Walk tall, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Try not to fidget, pick at your nails or clothes, or play with your hair.
  • Be concise, but thorough. Think about the questions the interviewer is asking and try to answer them completely. The goal is to share enough details of your skills and experiences to help the interviewer make a good decision—while keeping your responses as short and sweet as possible.
  • Be honest. If the interviewer asks a question and you’re stumped on the answer, that’s okay. Don’t try to fudge it. Just express that you don’t know, but you’ll consider the question carefully for future knowledge.
  • Ask questions. Remember the questions you prepared—and work them into the interview as appropriate. As the interview comes to a close, show your interest by asking about next steps and when you expect to hear from the interviewer about his or her decision.
  • Follow up. Always send a thank-you note after an interview to show your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. Handwritten notes always stand out, but email is okay too. And be sure to provide any additional information (such as school transcripts or professional references) requested right away.

 

Questions for the admissions interview

Download this helpful list of questions to help prepare for your admissions interview.