Blog - Category: Admissions

Seven Tips for your Best College Interview

Hillsdale interview header image


Originally posted at https://www.hillsdale.edu/hillsdale-blog/after-hillsdale/seventipsforyourbestcollegeinterview/.
Written by Kelly Kane.

Distinguishing yourself from other applicants is an important consideration when preparing your college applications. How best can you position yourself for admission and even scholarship? Meeting deadlines and submitting strong application materials are a part of the answer, but optional items like the college interview can be equally important.

Interviews are not required for admission to Hillsdale College, but they are strongly recommended. An interview can help to strengthen your application—and your competitive edge for admission and scholarship. Its purpose is evaluative and informative, allowing both parties to learn more about one another.

Whether you’re intimidated or excited by the prospect of an interview, here are Hillsdale College admissions rep Kelly Kane’s seven tips to help you succeed, informed by more than six years of admissions experience (and lots of interviews):

  1. Make a good first impression. Arriving a few minutes early will allow you the time to find where you need to be and have a moment’s rest to put your mind at ease before beginning. If for any reason you will be tardy or need to miss your appointment, be sure to call ahead.
  2. Remember the interview is a conversation, not a test. You should plan to talk about things like your college search, academic work, extracurricular activities, goals for the future, and how Hillsdale might be a good fit. You are the expert on the subject of yourself, so feel confident you are well prepared to answer questions about your background, interests, experiences, and aspirations. We will not be asking you to solve a calculus equation or translate any epic poetry from the Greek during your interview, so no need to worry too much.
  3. Be ready to provide the “hows” and “whys” behind your answers—remember, we are looking to understand the you that is not already presented on paper. Why is Hillsdale part of your college search? How do you hope to grow during your years at Hillsdale? What is it you love about your favorite class? Be authentic and truthful. If your answers are only an effort to impress, you will struggle to explain yourself when pressed.
  4. Consider the length of your responses. Find the happy medium between something too brief and minutes-long monologues. Focus on the most relevant information you are looking to convey, and do so clearly.
  5. Avoid making assumptions. Try not to assume the interviewer necessarily agrees with your perspective. Be prepared to present an argument for your assertions, or to define your terms. 
  6. Take the time you need to consider your answers. It is not impolite to take a short pause to organize your ideas before responding to a question: “I don’t know, I’ve never thought about that before. May I have a moment?” Taking the time to be thoughtful can be to your advantage, and help you avoid saying something you may later wish was said differently.
  7. Ask questions in return. In fact, prepare a list in advance of any questions you may have about Hillsdale. Demonstrate the sincerity of your interest in specific aspects of Hillsdale’s curriculum or community, or ask the interviewer for their experiences or advice.

Kelly shares, “I am often asked by prospective students how to best position themselves for earning admission or scholarship to Hillsdale, and the interview is always first on my list of recommendations. With campus, regional, and even virtual interview options available, I encourage you to not only take advantage of the opportunity, but with the benefit of these seven tips, to make the most of it.”

When choosing which colleges you’ll apply to, remember that Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges and universities set themselves apart from bigger public institutions by encouraging students to forge success by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Albion College Announces The ‘Michigan 2020 Promise’ Scholarship Exclusive To The Incoming Fall Class

No one should forgo education as a result of heightened financial duress stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.  That’s why Albion College announced a new and substantial scholarship program – the Michigan 2020 Promise.

This scholarship will assist Michigan families who have college affordability concerns due to COVID-19. Exclusive to graduating high school seniors and transfer students, the Michigan 2020 Promise will cover 100% of tuition and fees for Michigan students’ whose families make under $65,000 annually, after the Michigan Tuition and Federal Pell grants are applied. Families making over $65,000 at minimum will receive $92,000, or as high as $136,000 in Albion College scholarships over the course of 4 years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not only denied graduating seniors with the opportunity to walk in a high school graduation ceremony, it has evoked anxiety and concern for the financial and educational future of Michigan families,” said Dr. Mauri Ditzler, President of Albion College.  “Now more than ever, Albion College is committed to making higher learning accessible through this substantial scholarship, waived entrance exams and unrivaled value. Even in the face of uncertainty, Albion provides the hope, help and resources to empower Michigan students and families to reclaim ownership of their educational future, and the power to make quality, life-advancing decisions on their own terms.”

The program is a testament of Albion’s incredibly generous alumni, loyal donors and board of trustees. In fact, the Michigan 2020 Promise was made possible by a single, benevolent donor whose gift inspired the decision to offer the Class of 2020 this support.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrance exam testing dates were postponed to the fall. To lessen this undue stress and make the hope of higher education more readily attainable, Albion College will also be waiving ACT and SAT scores as a prerequisite for admissions—exclusive to the fall 2020 incoming class.

The opportunity to apply for a Michigan 2020 Promise scholarship expires on May 1.

Visit albion.edu/MI20promise for more details!

When is the best time to visit colleges?

(Albion College, voted 12th Most Beautiful College in Winter)

It’s winter, and the tundra is setting in – at least it is here in Michigan. The last thing you are thinking about is planning a trip to visit campuses. Those long walks across snow-covered quads are certainly less appealing when the temperatures are teetering at the same level as the number of layers you’ll be wearing to stay warm. Or maybe you are a freshman or sophomore, and it’s just “not time yet.”

So, “When is the best time to visit?”  The answer may not be what you expect.  Here are some tips for getting the most out of campus visits:

Time of year:
As summer strolls in and the school year winds down, families across the country are gearing with plans to visit college campuses. Tours are crowded, staff is minimal, and quads are relatively barren. Although the summer months are more convenient for your time, ideally you should try to plan your visits when classes are in session and the campuses are full of life.  Think of it like trying on a pair of new shoes: do you get the proper assessment while sitting? No, you get up, walk around, and perhaps jog in them… as it should also be done visiting campuses. Simulate the day-to-day as if you are attending the school. It doesn’t necessarily mean go in the dead of winter, but consider this: it may be cold, but it’ll also be cold while you attend, won’t it?

Age of student:
It can be very rewarding to visit colleges and universities before your junior and senior year (read: before it’s decision time). You are less concerned about choosing and “buying” when you are simply “window shopping” and more interested in checking out the inventory. Expose yourself to as many different kinds of places—big schools, small schools, research universities, liberal arts colleges, urban campuses, places way out in the country—to develop a broad perspective of all the different options. Then, when it is time to make a decision, you’ll have a better foundation on which to choose.

Before stepping foot on the first campus (and each one after that…):
Your new mantra: Relax, enjoy, decide later. Resist the impulse to judge immediately, good or bad. Your first reaction is bound to be emotional, and usually overly positive—college is really cool! Sleep on it. Weigh your impressions against the other schools you visit and try to remain as objective as possible so your rose-colored glasses don’t allow you to overlook things.

How to choose:
As you visit the campuses, allow your senses to guide you. Really like something? Take note of it. Feel like something’s missing? Take note of it. Gut instinct is usually pretty accurate. Additionally, the perceptions from your visits will come in handy when completing your college applications. Remember this: tying personal experience to the campus environment will blow the minds of the admissions department!

What to look for:
Focus on fit. We perform at our best when we have a level of comfort, belonging, and value. Questions to ask yourself: How does the college meet my academic needs? Will I be challenged appropriately? Is the style of instruction a good match for how I learn? Does the college offer a community that makes me feel “at home?” Does the college offer extracurricular activities that interest me?

After the visit, before you leave:
Connect with the recruiter. Colleges and universities typically assign admissions personnel to different areas of the country for recruiting efficiency. If your area’s recruiter is available, definitely introduce yourself. Either way, get that person’s contact information. Consider him/her as your “go to” person when you have important questions later in the admissions process. And remember this: there is nothing insignificant nor too embarrassing to ask. The admissions staff is there to help!

What to do next:
Record your visit. Make notes as soon as you are able. The more campuses you visit, the more they will begin to blend together, especially from memory. Take pictures to give yourself a visual index of what you’ve seen to avoid confusion later.

And finally:
Enjoy the process. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement and have that energy turn into anxiety. Relax. Start the search early. Visit during the school year to witness the campus’s true environment. Trust your senses and take notes.

As you map your college visit road trip, include a few of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities on your list. These schools are purposefully smaller and emphasize “community over crowds.” Often comparable in cost to Michigan’s public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates, outstanding faculty who help students forge their own paths, and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and personal experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Your One-Stop, College Admissions Connection: Virtual College Fair

We’ve said it before.  The best way to choose your own path is to visit a college campus… or three.  Breathe the air.  Wander the student center.  Sit in on a lecture.  Chat up a few professors.  Grab a meal in the dining hall.  Stroll through the quad.

But the college search doesn’t usually start with a visit to campus.  You might begin by looking at websites or admissions booklets, or attending a college fair to learn more.  Pixels and pages are a start, but nothing beats talking to a person, and college fairs can be time consuming to attend.  Now, there’s a solution!

Enter the Virtual College Fair.  It’s never been easier to connect with a college admissions office and get your big questions answered.

The Virtual College Fair offers free access to video recordings and live streams from Michigan’s top private colleges and universities.  Watch the recordings, pick your favorites (or pick them all!), and then register – individually or with your family – to attend a live and interactive web-based Q&A session with admissions and other college representatives.  Learn more here.

Like what you hear?  Reach out to the college to continue the conversation and maybe even schedule a visit!

Upcoming Live Q&A Sessions

December 4, 2018 at 7 PM:  Alma College
December 4, 2018 at 8 PM:  Aquinas College
December 5 , 2018 at 7 PM:  Madonna University 
December 6, 2018 at 7 PM:  University of Detroit Mercy 
December 6, 2018 at 8 PM:  Calvin College
December 11, 2018 at 7 PM:  Albion College 
December 12, 2018 at 7 PM:  Spring Arbor University
December 13, 2018 at 7 PM:  Hillsdale College