Nov 20, 2020

15 college interview opportunities you will want to investigate

While COVID-19 has resulted in a number of unexpected changes to the college admissions process, one thing remains the same: if a college requires or recommends an interview, you should make every effort to schedule one.

Pre-virus, that usually meant traveling to campus or meeting locally with an alum or college rep at a coffee shop, library or business office. Given current circumstances, however, the interview will almost certainly take place over the internet. And luckily, it isn’t too late to book a time.

In fact, it’s a good idea to visit individual websites and carefully note admissions advice on the necessity of sitting for an interview, noting terms, purpose and what you’ll need to know to have a great experience.

An admissions interview doesn’t need to be a nerve-wracking experience. Think of it as a great way to demonstrate interest while simultaneously investigating the college and possibly making your best case for admission.

So what’s a college interview like? For starters, no two interviews will be exactly alike depending on the purpose of the interview or who is conducting it.

In general, they are either informational or evaluative, meaning the college is either inviting you to learn more about what they have to offer or the college is sizing you up as an applicant.

In the absence of in-person interview, colleges will make creative use of existing technology such as Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout and other similar platforms allowing face-to-face interaction.

Timing varies. Interviews may be conducted as early as spring of junior year and can be scheduled as late as January of senior year. Alumni interviews usually take place in the fall, after you have submitted an application or some part of an application, while other interviews are scheduled throughout the application process and don’t require a completed application.

The level of professionalism and value of the interview will depend a great deal on how much training and experience the interviewer has. Staff interviews tend to be the best, but alums and students often aren’t as tied to the college marketing program and may give you a different perspective. Regardless of who is conducting the interview and how, appointments are almost always limited and the sooner you email, go online or respond to an invitation, the better.

If you wait too long, you risk being left out of the interview process. It’s not usually a deal breaker, but if you have the opportunity to market yourself through an interview, why not take it?

Here are insights taken directly from the websites of 15 colleges with varying kinds of interview opportunities (note that these have been edited and you should go directly to the college website for more details):

Brandeis University
An interview gives you an opportunity to tell us about yourself, unconstrained by the formality of the written page and the remoteness of school records…. Interview evaluations will become a part of your application and may be used in the decision making process.

While we are currently unable to welcome you to campus, we are still eager to connect. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Admissions will be conducting all interviews for prospective students virtually using an online platform…. Interviews are an optional part of the application process at Brandeis and are only available for rising or current high school seniors.

College of the Holy Cross
One of the important ways we get to know you is through a one-on-one interview. While they are not required, we strongly recommend them for applicants. As a result, we offer a variety of options to fit your busy schedule. Please keep in mind that students may only interview once, and interviews are reserved for rising or current high school seniors only.

Students applying for Fall 2021 are invited to make an appointment to join us virtually for a one-on-one interview with an admission counselor on any day that the Admission Office is open for business from May 4, 2020 until Dec. 11, 2020.

College of William and Mary
Paper applications are two-dimensional. Interviews allow you the opportunity to make your application three-dimensional. Interviews are offered in the summer for rising high school seniors and in the fall for current high school seniors.

Our virtual interviews are intended to be casual and informative conversations that will last approximately 20-30 minutes and give you an opportunity to chat with a current W&M senior.

Connecticut College
If you are a rising or current senior, or a prospective transfer student, we encourage you to schedule an interview as part of your application to Connecticut College. Interviews are not required, but they are a great way for us to learn more about each other, personalizing what can seem to be the impersonal process of applying to colleges. An interview is an evaluative tool for you and for us…. As the campus is closed due to COVID-19, all our interviews are now online.

Dartmouth College
After you've submitted your application, you may be offered an opportunity to interview with a Dartmouth graduate. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews will only be offered virtually (via phone or video call) for the 2020-21 application cycle… Alumni interviews are both informative and evaluative. You can ask our alumni your questions, and they can learn more about you through the conversation. An interview report is added to your file and is reviewed along with your other materials.

Dickinson College
Interviewing is a great way for us to get to know you better and to help us gain insight into your personal experiences, passions and goals… Interviews are offered for as many applicants and prospective students as possible but are not a required element of the application. Due to interview demand, students may only participate in one interview opportunity. You may share an unofficial transcript and/or activities resume in your interview.

Virtual interviews last approximately 35 minutes (though you should reserve 45 minutes) and are conducted by admissions counselors and trained student interviewers. Interviews should be scheduled and conducted before your application deadline.

Duke University
Alumni interviews are an optional component of the Duke application process. After applying, students are matched with alumni volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis if an alumni interviewing committee is present in their area. Students who wish to interview must submit their application by the Early Decision deadline (November 16) or the Regular Decision priority interview deadline (December 20).

For the 2020-21 admissions cycle, alumni volunteers will conduct virtual one-on-one interviews. Students may expect the interview to last 30–60 minutes.

Harvard College
More than 10,000 alumni/ae help us recruit students from all 50 states and from around the world. For the Class of 2025 application cycle, we expect these conversations to be conducted via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms due to the public health restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no need for you to arrange this conversation. If it is possible to arrange an interview, you will be contacted by one of our alumni interviewers after you have submitted your application for admission.

Lehigh University
Lehigh interviews are designed for students who have specific questions about Lehigh best addressed in an individual setting and/or for those who want to provide context for information that will be in their application. All interviews at Lehigh are evaluative and thus become part of an application, but are not required for admission.

We offer Virtual Regional Interviews for those who prefer a more personal experience and/or have many specific questions or situations to discuss. As with any Lehigh interview, a Regional Interview is considered evaluative, but is not required as part of the admissions process. An interview can be a useful tool for Lehigh prospective applicants to share more of their story and learn more about the institution. Interviews last approximately 30 minutes. Students can only interview with Lehigh once.

At MIT we don’t just want to see how you look on paper; we’re interested in the whole person. That’s why, whenever possible, we offer an interview with a member of the MIT Educational Council, a network of over 5,000 MIT graduates around the world who volunteer to meet with applicants in their home area. To ensure everyone’s health and safety from COVID-19, we will hold all interviews virtually for the 2020–21 application.

After you submit your application, you may be contacted by an Educational Counselor (EC) if there’s one available. ECs will typically use the email address you provided on your application to contact you, so please monitor your inbox and respond promptly. Most Early Action interviews will take place in November and most Regular Action interviews will take place in January. If we are unable to offer you an interview, it will be waived and your application will not be adversely affected.

Rice University
We recommend an interview for first-year applicants, though they are optional and not guaranteed. Interviews are a great way to demonstrate interest in Rice and an excellent opportunity to showcase academic and personal successes while learning more about the campus experience. An inability to schedule an interview will not negatively impact your application.

Due to Covid-19, all interviews for the 2020 - 2021 application cycle will be conducted virtually. A trained alumnus or current Rice University senior will virtually meet with you to learn more about your accomplishments and academic interests and to answer your questions about studying at Rice.

Syracuse University
While not required, prospective first-year and transfer students have the opportunity to schedule a personal interview with an admissions representative…Interviews are available beginning July 6 through December using video chat software. Interviews typically last about 30 minutes and will be considered in our application review process.

University of Richmond
Like their arachnid cousins, Richmond Spiders are (figuratively speaking) everywhere. Connect with a Richmond alumnus for a Virtual Spider Chat — an opportunity for you to share your interests, explore Richmond as a match for you, and learn more about the University from someone who knows it well. Virtual Spider Chats can also be scheduled with a current student.

Virtual Spider Chats are available to prospective high school students from June 1 prior to their senior year through November 15 of their senior year, and may also be available to admitted students between January and April of their senior year. You can request a Virtual Spider Chat online.

University of Rochester
The admissions interview is an important part of applying to the University of Rochester. Each year from July to January, University of Rochester admissions professionals, alumni, and representatives connect with prospective high school seniors all over the world in one-on-one interviews. These interviews are an opportunity to stand out, for us to get to know you better, and for you to ask us about Rochester.

Interviews can help determine merit scholarship candidates, so if you plan on competing for merit-based awards, an interview is strongly recommended…Submit your request as early as possible, but no later than Friday, January 22…The Office of Admissions is currently only able to offer virtual interview opportunities. Virtual interviews are conducted online with admissions representatives using Zoom chat software.

Wake Forest University
Interviews will last approximately 25 minutes. They are evaluative and will become part of your application file, so be prepared for a thorough and thoughtful interview – ranging from topics such as your high school and classes, your academic interests and most treasured books, to your talents and service work, to what you think about and what you do (when you aren’t studying!), to current events. We offer interviews beginning on the first Monday in June following your junior year into January of your senior year. Interview scheduling will begin in mid-April of your junior year. You should schedule your interview by December 1 of your senior year.

Interviews are not required, but they are strongly encouraged—especially for applicants interested in competing for merit scholarships.

Nov 19, 2020

UVa early decision applications up by 35% for class of 2025

Early applications are up at UVa

According to The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia received 2,918 binding early decision (ED) applications for the Class of 2025. This marks a 35% increase over last year’s somewhat disappointing ED pool of 2,157 applicants. While the total number of ED applicants represents a relatively small portion of an overall pool expected to come in around 41,000 applications, the fact that UVa admitted approximately 35% of early decision applicants last year might be a little alarming to students not willing to commit to a binding contract so early in the process.

At the same time early decision grew by more than a third, the number of early action applications also rose to 28,884 from 25,122—a 15% increase from last year. And although the university is waiting for the January 1 regular decision deadline to provide final numbers, it has already received 17% more applications compared to the same time last year.

In other words, it looks like the University of Virginia will have another very good year in terms of numbers of students interested in possibly attending the Commonwealth’s flagship institution.

Last year was the first time in over a decade that UVa offered an early decision option—the announcement came late and with an October 15 deadline. This year, the deadline was moved to coincide with the November 1 early action deadline. ED decisions will be released in mid-December while early action decisions will come out in mid-February. Students applying regular decision will receive decisions before April 1.

Earlier this year, UVa announced it would not require applicants for the Class of 2025 to submit standardized testing as part of the application process, because of concerns related to COVID-19. Admissions officials promised that students opting to apply test optional would not be in any way penalized for their decision. The change in testing policy, however, probably contributed to UVa’s uptick in early applications.

Among the early decision applicants, 54% were Virginia residents, while the remaining 46% came from out of state. Early action applicants, however, were much more likely to come from out of state as only 28% of the EA applicants were from the Commonwealth. The early decision pool was also overwhelmingly white, with Black and Hispanic students making up only about eight percent of the applicants.

According to Jeanine Lalonde, Associate Dean of Admissions—Dean J to her fans, students applying either early decision or early action receive no advantage in the admissions process.

“We review the applications the same way throughout the entire application season,” Lalonde said. “The admission rates are telling you about the strength of the different pools at U.Va., not about a different style of application review.”

But if the rate of admissions offers remains about the same for this year, a very large percent will come from among early applicants, with as many as 20% of the incoming freshman class applying binding early decision. Note that Virginia Tech admits about 20% of the class through early decision, while the College of William and Mary typically admits at least a third through early decision—suggesting a precedent for Virginia institutions willing to lock down a significant percent of their class this way. Whether UVa will stay closer to Tech than William and Mary in terms of how it uses the early decision tool remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the University of Virginia will continue to accept applications until January 1, 2021.