Are interviews worth the time? Is it worth missing a day of school or practice?
It depends. How much do you like this school? If it’s your dream school and you’re already being recruited by the wrestling coach, you should definitely schedule an interview if possible. If you’re already thinking about scheduling a tour, see if you can schedule an interview on the same day. This will save you a lot of travel time. Some places even offer Skype interviews, but in-person interviews will be the best possible experience for both you and the admissions officer. Based on admissions office scoring sheets, you’ll be able potentially add some points to your application score if you do an interview. This is because showing up to do an interview and a tour means that you demonstrate more interest in the application process than the typical applicant that sends out their common application to a bunch of different places without doing much more than that. Colleges will have a better idea of who you are as a person too.
Generally speaking, smaller colleges will weigh the interview more heavily than a larger college or university, and some large colleges or universities won’t even offer interviews in the first place as part of the application process. This is because they have too many applicants to sort through and not enough time to give everyone a chance to interview. In this case, the best thing you can do is to see if they offer alumni interviews near you. This is basically when a graduate of that university interviews you for the sake of that university. It’s one potential way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicants.
Just like you’d do a warm up before a meet or a tournament, you’ll want to have a practice run before the actual interview. This way, you can be prepared for the type of questions that you would normally expect for an interview. This is also good practice when you’re looking for a job several years down the road. Because of this, you might as well practice doing a mock interview now. You’ll be able to find a list of potential interview questions without much of an issue. Thinking about how you’d best answer those questions in an authentic way will help the interview flow more smoothly.
You might also want to think of questions that you want answered during the interview. For example, this could be about financial aid (in particular, seeing what their options are in terms of merit or need-based scholarships), this could be about certain programs, or just about anything else during the application process. Part of this is to actually get your questions answered, while another part of this is that you demonstrate interest in the college. For example, if you’re very interested in the college, you can then request information about how to apply for early decision or early action.
It’s also good practice to write or email thank you notes to whomever interviewed you during this application process. To figure out who this is, make sure you ask for their business card at the end of the interview. If you’re uncomfortable with asking for their business card, you can say something like, “Do you mind if I get your business card in case I have any more questions later on during the application process?” I have never had anyone say no to me when phrasing the question like that. Even if you don’t actually have any more questions, you’ll be able to directly contact them and write thank you notes. You’ll also be able to periodically update them on any potentially interesting developments throughout the application process that they can then add to your file. Just so you know, this thank-you note gets added to your application file in some places. I’ve worked in a college application processing center before and know this to be true.
Interviews may not make or break your application, but they certainly will help. It’s not only beneficial to the college- you’ll also get a better feel of the college through the people who work and spend a lot of time around that community. In addition to scheduling a tour, you should schedule an interview if you have the chance to do so.