The college admission process can involve a lot of time and work on your part, so it might be tempting to skip an interview when it’s optional. And the fact is that many college admission interviews are indeed optional these days.
So why do colleges keep offering them to applicants? Is there any reason to take this extra step in the college admission process?
Here are three reasons why you might want to schedule that optional admissions interview.
1. Learn More About the School
Interviewing with schools you are interested in attending gives you the chance to find out more about each college and the programs it offers. After all, interviews are often given by either admission team members or alumni, which means you get to talk to someone who is very familiar with the school.
This is important because — much like college applicants — a school might look great on paper, but not quite meet your needs in reality. You need to know this before you commit to attending.
For this reason, completing an optional college admission interview could be a good decision, especially if you are torn between a few colleges. This is your shot to find out about topics that are not necessarily covered on the website, such as details only insiders (like alumni and staff) would know about campus life, classes, and more.
2. Demonstrate Your Interest
Colleges want students who want to be there. They also don’t want to risk offering admission to someone who is going to turn it down. That’s why your interest in the school actually makes a difference to the admission team.
There are a few ways to show this interest. Scheduling an overnight campus visit, for instance, is a great way to demonstrate you interest. Another really great way to do this is by scheduling that optional college admission interview. When you schedule one, you’re making it clear that you’re really interested in the school and it’s near the top of your list, since you’re likely not going to dozens of other interviews.
The admission team will make a note of this. And when you’re applying to competitive schools, every bit helps. You never know when your application will end up in the “maybe” pile and just needs a little nudge to get into the “admitted” pile instead.
3. Show Who You Are
For many students, it can sometimes be hard to stand out as an individual during the application process, especially when schools have only your transcript and test scores to go on.
Although the college admission essay gives students a great chance to show a little bit more of who they are, another truly great way to put a face to your name is to partake in an admissions interview. This is an especially valuable option for students who truly shine in person, but may be slightly lackluster on paper or lack strong writing skills.
When Should You Skip the Interview?
There are a couple of instances in which not going to the optional college admission interview may be best. For instance, if you live far away from the closest interview venue and it would be costly or inconvenient for you to travel there.
In that case, you can always show your interest by asking to complete an interview over the phone or via video chat. Or, if those options are not available, ask to be put in touch with a current student or alumni. This way you can still get answers to all those important questions about campus life and academics.
Another reason you might want to skip this step in the college application timeline is if you are not good at communicating in person. If you get so nervous that you can barely talk in interviews, or if you think there’s any reason something you might say would concern the interviewer, it may be better off avoiding the interview and focus instead on making the rest of your application as strong as possible.
At the end of the day, you want to play to your strengths as an individual whether that means scheduling an optional interview or not.