Much like Chandler Parsons, perhaps the NBA’s most overrated and overpaid player, the college interview is overrated. Now don’t get us wrong. Saying something offensive or cruel or inconsistent with your application can certainly derail your application to a highly selective school. But in our experience, students and particularly their parents place too much emphasis on the interview. So if we’re overcorrecting a bit by under-stressing its importance as a component of the holistic admissions process, then so be it. Sometimes when someone turns the steering wheel too far to the left, you’ve got to turn it hard to the right — power steering or not.
Overvaluing the College Interview
We often receive emails that read something like, “My son needs help with his college interview.” And don’t get us wrong — there is no college counseling firm that can better prepare a student for college interviews than Ivy Coach. We know the questions that are asked. We know how students should and shouldn’t respond to answers. We know the traps. We know how to bring out the unique qualities and talents of our students. But when we receive these emails, we also cringe a bit on the inside and that’s because these parents didn’t work with us on the rest of the college admissions process. They’re only coming to us for such a comparatively inconsequential part of that process.
When a student hears from a school like Duke, they (and their parents) often think, “I got an interview with Duke! I’ve got a real shot to get in.” And while we absolutely hate to burst bubbles, securing a college interview is no indication of anything — at Duke or any highly selective institution. It’s no indication that a student has a good or bad chance of getting in. All it means is that there was a Duke alum in the student’s area available to interview the applicant. Schools like Duke (and every highly selective college) try to interview as many students who apply as possible. That’s their goal.
Pitfalls of College Interviews
Now just because it’s not among the most important components of a student’s application (like those super important admissions essays — and there is not one but rather many essays and they’re all equally as important!), that doesn’t mean saying something racist or homophobic, or articulating a lack of intellectual curiosity won’t derail a student’s case for admission. All of those things will certainly hurt a student’s chances and it’s highly likely an alumni interviewer would report any of the above in his or her writeup. That’d be quite bad indeed! You want to present yourself as likable. You want to present yourself as someone who loves learning. You want to show that you’ve done your homework on the school, that you’d actually matriculate if admitted. You want to showcase what you will contribute to the school and how that school will be better off for having you in their student body.
Have a question about college interviews? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from you.