Debating the efficacy and necessity of the college interview

Are college interviews necessary?

It’s a question that many, if not most, college-bound students ask themselves at one point or another. An in-person interview is often billed as a student’s best chance to make a personal connection with an admissions representative or, more often, an alumni in the student’s area who conducts interviews on behalf of the school’s admissions department. Some say it gives students who may not be as strong as others at expressing themselves through essays or on paper in their application an opportunity to do so more convincingly in-person.

A recent article in The Atlantic argues a point that some in the admissions industry have been making for years – that the college interview is a largely unnecessary extra step that causes undue stress on students and is usually not be the deciding factor in whether a prospective student is admitted or not. A report from the National Association of College Admission Counseling found just under five percent of colleges see interviews as having “considerable importance.” Just under 50 percent said that interviews are irrelevant. Others argue that the interviews are simply a way to make alumni feel more involved in the student selection process, and hopefully drive them to donate money back to their alma mater.

Do you think college interviews are useful or an unnecessary, stress-inducing extra step for students? How much weight do schools actually give in-person interviews versus the rest of the application? If you attended college, did you do an in-person interview during the admissions process? What was your experience and, if you got accepted, do you think the interview played a role?


Jon Reider, director of college counseling at San Francisco University High School, former senior associate director of admissions at Stanford University, and co-author of “Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting into College”

Brian Taylor, managing director of Ivy Coach, a college admissions consulting firm based in New York City


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