The college interview can be an important part of the college admissions process, especially if you're applying to elite or selective schools.

Although you want to be ready to answer the admission representative’s questions in a way that makes the best case for why you should be accepted, what you ask them can be just as important.

“Students should be careful about asking for information that is already on the website,” says Jodi Rosenshein Atkin, a Rochester, New York–based college admissions consultant. “Doing so indicates a lack of preparedness as well as lack of serious interest.”

On the other hand, meaningful, well-thought-out questions will help you learn more about the schools at the top of your list, while demonstrating that you’re a serious student who is inquisitive and committed to excelling in the future.

If your biggest question right now is what you should ask, keep reading. We’ve put together a list of some quality questions to consider bringing along to your college interviews.

1. Can you tell me about the ABC and XYZ programs? I’m torn between which program of study I’d like to pursue.

What it reveals about you: Asking specific questions about programs of study shows that you’re not only contemplating your academic path, but mapping out what you’d like to pursue at their institution.

2. What are some exciting internships that students have had here in the past year?

What it reveals about you: Inquiring about career services and opportunities to practice hands-on skills in the workplace illustrates maturity and the fact that you’re career-focused.

… remember that the questions you ask can be just as impressive as the answers you give.

3. What is unique about this school versus other similar schools in the area?

What it reveals about you: Such a question says that you’re doing your homework about your top schools and you’re looking for the perfect fit for you. 

4. I saw in the school newsletter that students are concerned about XYZ issue. Can you tell me more about it?

What it reveals about you: Not only did you take the initiative to read the school’s newsletter, but you are showing an interest in campus life and student issues.

Here are some additional questions that Atkins says might help students determine what a college is really like.

5. What is a typical weekend or weeknight like on campus?

What it reveals about the school: Some colleges offer a more vibrant campus experience than others, and the differences will shine through depending on how they answer this question. Do most students scatter or head home during non-class hours, or is there so much going that students keep busy all week long? Are there campus-sponsored events, or do most students find fun elsewhere? 

6. If you could change one thing about this school, what would it be?

What it reveals about the school: Although this question puts the interviewer in the hot seat, it can help you assess the potential shortcomings of the institution and what they are doing to address them. If you’re torn between a few schools, what you learn through this question could help narrow down your selection.

7. If you could guarantee one aspect of this school to every student, what would it be and why?

What it reveals about the school: This gets to the heart of the institution’s values. Again, this is a great way to see if what the college deems important is also something you care deeply about. Do they emphasize a world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities? Are they all about career preparation? Is there an opportunity to conduct research? Is it their mission to graduate well-educated, good citizens into the world?

When prepping for your college interviews, remember that the questions you ask can be just as impressive as the answers you give. Create a tailored list of questions for every school you plan to visit to find out the information you really want to know, and you’ll make the most of your college interview experience.

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