College prep planning: everything you wanted to know about admissions part three

If you’ve missed it, Sno-Isle Libraries is partnering with Andrea Main of Main Education Consulting to provide a series of free college preparation planning programs at the Granite FallsLake Stevens, Monroe, and Snohomish libraries this spring. In advance of the college preparation programs, Sno-Isle teens brainstormed their best questions about college admissions and Andrea answered them. The first week Andrea focused the application process and last week she talked about essays and Running Start/AP to help you better understand the college admission process. This is the last week of the series and Andrea answered questions about college visits, interviews, and Early Decision.

What should I expect in a college interview?

Generally, college interviews are provided to confirm that the college is a good fit for the student. First, research the college. Understand why you chose this college and be able to tell them why the college is a good fit for you: academics, extra-curricular activities, special programs offered, the college’s philosophy or perhaps, athletics.

Then, be prepared to answer questions about these subjects and about the activities in which you are currently involved.  Do some research to find typical interview questions.  Have a couple of your own questions ready—but make sure your questions are not ones that can be answered by looking through the college’s website.

Finally, dress neatly, be on time, be polite, shake hands, be confident, relax and enjoy the conversation.  After the interview, send a thank you note to your interviewer.

What should I do when I visit campuses?

College visits can be expensive so do as much research as you can before visiting.  Book a free Admissions Information Session and Student Tour. Try to visit when the college is in session so you can get a feel for the energy of the school and you can have a meal in the cafeteria. If possible, ask to audit (sit in) on one of the classes within your perspective major, or book an overnight stay in a dorm (if offered), or interview a professor from your major or an Honors College.

Prepare a list of questions that can not be answered by on-line research: questions that will help you decide if this will be the right college for you. These questions will be quite individual. You may want to know how many students in your major get to participate in research, or you may require a specific learning environment, or you may want to see how an athletic coach interacts with the athletes.

Know what information you will need to make your final decision.

Could one be accepted into a college without declaring a major?

Yes, while some colleges and some programs require a high school senior to apply to a specific major, many colleges offer an “undecided” or “General Studies” option, and other colleges require all freshmen begin as “General Studies” or “Exploratory” in their first year and declare their major in their sophomore year. Ask the college’s admissions counselors about such policies. If you do not know what to declare as a major, look for a college that allows you the time and the credit path to explore subjects and has a strong academic advisory program to give you guidance.

Would Early Decision be more favorable in college application?

Early Decision is binding. A student may apply to only one college in an Early Decision round. If the college accepts the student, through Early Decision, that student must accept the offer.

So, when would you apply Early Decision to a college? When you have fully researched the college and you know, absolutely, that it is your first-choice school. Before submitting an Early Decision application, visit the college, talk to professors within your major, spend time on campus and run the numbers—make sure you can afford the college. Early Decision will give you a statistical advantage in the acceptance rate, but only if you are qualified! If your application will be strengthened by the grades you earn or your extra-curricular involvement in your senior year, you may be better off applying, Regular Decision, later in the application cycle.

Thanks, Andrea!

Want to learn more? The Monroe Library is hosting Andrea on Saturday, March 31st at 2 p.m. to talk about “Getting an Early Start.”

You can find more college resources on our Life After High School page, including bookliststest prep, and more!

Andrea also answered questions about financial aid last fall:

College preparation planning: all about the FASFA part one

College prep planning: all about the FAFSA part two

College prep planning: all about scholarships

College preparation planning: how do I know if I qualify for financial aid?

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