As the fall semester comes to a close, Berkeley High School seniors are starting to submit their applications to colleges, and experience their first college interviews.
According to Sasha Gomes Libova, a Berkeley International High School (BIHS) senior, though some colleges require that students be interviewed as part of their application, most colleges have made it optional. Interviews are usually held by someone from the administration office or a former graduate, and can happen both online and in person.
Gomes Libova, has had three college interviews so far, with several more scheduled for the future. In her experiences, she has found that there are two kinds of interviews: one where the student has to lead the conversation, and one with a bit more structure.
“I’ve had different experiences from each college interview,” Gomes Libova said. “(For) some, it’s kind of more conversational. They’ll ask a question that’s pretty straightforward, and then it’s up to you to kind of guide the conversation … and they’ll ask follow-up questions based on what you say.” She gave an example of this, saying that if you mention a specific class you’re interested in, they may ask what projects you have enjoyed in your previous class.
“Some, it’s more structured. They have specific questions that are still usually pretty straightforward,” Gomes Libova said. “It’s just more question and answer format. So, an example of a question could be, ‘what are you looking for in a college?’”
Yasmin Navarro, a college counselor at the College and Career Center (CCC), had several pieces of advice for students preparing for college interviews. She recommended that students prepare an elevator pitch about themselves, consisting of a summary of the student, what they like, and their goals for the future, all of which should last no more than a minute.
Additionally, she suggested that students research the college they are applying to, able to answer the question of what draws them to the specific college. “You got to make sure that … if you’re talking about Georgetown, that you know what programs Georgetown has, and their dual enrollment, and that kind of stuff,” Navarro said.
According to Navarro, students should be prepared to answer questions about what they like to study and what they like to do during their free time. She also recommended asking the interviewer questions to create a more conversational, flowing discussion. “For example, what was your major when you were at the school or what did you study? Or, did you always know the school was going to be (right) for you? Just kind of creating this conversation with the interviewers,” Navarro said.
According to Gomes Libova, each college is different; some consider the interview, while others they don’t. She added that students can find information and statistics on the schools they are applying to, as well as how much weight the interview carries at a given school, through the Common Data Set online.
Navarro echoed these sentiments: “Some schools do weight (the interview) towards admission, but some schools just kind of do it as a general information session,” she said. She added that her final piece of advice for students throughout their college interviews is to “try to have fun with (the process).”