Turning the Table on College Interviews

Turning the Table on College Interviews

Lesson 1: Don't ask, "Does your school have fraternities and sororities?"

Dartmouth College campus
Dartmouth College campus

In previous AJT articles, I focused on college interviews and questions students may be asked. To follow up, let’s examine potential questions students have asked the interviewer.

Do you have fraternities and sororities?  Strike one, says the umpire (interviewer to himself).

What majors do you have at your university?  Strike two, the umpire interviewer says.

Do you have any merit scholarships? Strike three. You’re out, the umpire interviewer yells.

The questions above prove a few things about the student being interviewed. One, the student hasn’t read the college website or found the information elsewhere prior to the interview. Two, how much does the student really want to know about the college because it seems like they didn’t research enough on their own. It is almost like a person going to a major employer and asking: “What jobs do you have at your company?”

A college interview should indicate that the student has some interest in the college. Therefore, research about the institution is important prior to any interview. What might you ask? Here are a few possible topics and questions:


  • Do any of the faculty use teaching assistants?
  • Are senior faculty involved with teaching freshman?
  • How involved are the faculty with students beyond the classroom?
  • How does the faculty advising system work?
  • Do freshman get an advisor immediately?


  • Are there opportunities for small classes or seminars?
  • What are the research possibilities with faculty?
  • Are students predominately grade-conscious or do they really want to learn regardless of their grade?
  • Are students known to be cutthroat and competitive or cooperative with each other?
  • How much flexibility is there in the curriculum?
  • What leeway is there in core requirements?

Beyond academics

  • Do the fraternities and sororities control social life on campus?
  • Are students involved in the community outside of the school?
  • Is the student government important? Does it have an impact on college life on campus?
  • Has there been any tension on campus in the past few years?
  • Any crime on campus? Is this campus a safe one?
  • What are the major clubs or organizations that are most popular on campus?
  • What, if any, have been the hottest issues on campus?


  • What role does athletics play in the life of most students?
  • If I have not been recruited by your basketball program is there a possibility to be a walk-on?
  • What is the intramural sports scene?  Are there Greek teams? Dorm teams? Both?

In General

  • Are there any departments being cut back or discontinued? If yes, why?
  • Are there any changes on the drawing boards in the curriculum in the next four years?
  • Is there any construction or renovation soon to take place on campus?
  • If I take a gap year after I graduate high school, will that have any impact on my admission to your college?
  • If I am awarded a scholarship, will that wait until after my gap year?
  • Is there something about housing I should know when given the chance?
  • How are roommates chosen for the dorms?

The above are just samples of what you might ask the college interviewer. They certainly aren’t the only ones. Take advantage of the opportunity when an interviewer asks you: “What do you want to know about our college?” Show the college, by your questions, that you really know about the school because you did your research.

Dr. Mark Fisher is a college and career consultant at Fisher Educational Consultants (www.fishereducationalconsultants.com) and a consultant for the College Planning Institute (www.GotoCPI.com).

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