By Katherine Catimon, associate dean of undergraduate admissions & communications
As an admissions counselor at Clarkson, I have had the pleasure of meeting with countless prospective students who are interested in learning more about Clarkson. One of my favorite ways to do this is through the “admissions interview.” However, there are often some common questions and misconceptions about what the admissions interview really is. I’m here to share all of the tips and information I have with you so that you are well-prepared and not stressed about it.
What is an admissions interview? An admissions interview is an important, but optional, part of the admission process here at Clarkson. The title “interview” is sometimes daunting for prospective students; however, here at Clarkson, it’s more of a casual exchange. We want to get to know you, to put a face with a name, and we want you to get to know Clarkson! The interview is not a one-way street. It is to help you see if Clarkson is a good fit for you and vice versa. Our goal is to help you find the best school for you and let you know what Clarkson has to offer. We pride ourselves on building one-on-one relationships with our prospective students and their families, and often, the interview is one of the first building blocks!
What is an interview like? During the interview, we will ask you about classes you have taken, extracurricular activities you are involved in, achievements and awards you have received and your intended major or academic interests, as well as about what you are looking for in a college. As I already mentioned, an admissions interview is casual. Still, you want to put your best foot forward. So, tell us all about yourself and all the great things you have done and want to do. If you don’t tell us, then we won’t know! You may have been taught not to brag about yourself, but the admissions interview is a great time to do so.
What should you know/have going into the interview? Whether a college has been on your radar for a long time or it’s a new prospect, you should have some knowledge about the college. Browsing the college’s website before an interview can be very helpful. You wouldn’t want to go into an interview hoping to talk about a major the college doesn’t offer. Even if you aren’t sure what your intended major may be, looking over the website might help you find something that sparks your interest, that you want more information about. If there is something on the website that you don’t see, the interview is a great opportunity to ask if it’s something we offer. Since we do ask questions about your classes, grades and activities throughout high school, it’s good to look over your transcript before the interview. Some students print copies of their transcripts and resumes for the interview, but that is totally optional. Even though the interview is casual, some students do get nervous or lose their train of thought, so having your questions written down might be helpful if you or your parents get stuck!
What should you ask during the interview? You should be asking questions that will help you make your college choice, or at least narrow down your choices. Ask about things that are important to you — academics, clubs and organizations, co-op and internship opportunities, study abroad options, student life, on- and off-campus life, the town, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask what you think are “silly” questions. Chances are, we’ve been asked those same questions before. Here at Clarkson, we are trained in all aspects of the University. We know a lot about what students are doing in and out of the classroom, and if we can’t answer it, one of our student workers can. We are also knowledgeable about financial aid, so you and your parents can ask all those questions too. Sometimes students can’t think of questions, and that’s okay! We will often bring information up to prompt you and get you thinking. Also, if you do forget a question or you think of it after the interview, we are always happy to follow up with you!
What are the benefits of doing an interview? There are many benefits to doing an admissions interview. It helps us get to know you as a whole person. We believe there is much more to a prospective student than numbers, GPA, test scores, transcripts, etc. It also helps us put a name to a face when we are reviewing applications. A prospective student who has a great personality is a student we love to have here at Clarkson. In the real world, soft skills are a huge part of getting a great career, and the interview process can help you practice these soft skills, as well as help us decide if Clarkson is a good fit for you.
What should you do after the interview? We try to have students meet with their assigned admissions counselor; however, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Either way, we want you to start building a professional relationship with our counselors. That means we want you to feel comfortable reaching out to us, and we want you to feel comfortable having us reach out to you. We don’t want the conversation to end when the interview ends — we want you to come to us with any questions or concerns you or your family may have. You might walk out of an interview and think, “Wow, I’m really interested in this school!” Or you might walk out thinking, “Maybe not the best fit.” Whatever reaction you have, let us know, so that we are on the same page. As your admissions counselors, we are here for you from the day you inquire about Clarkson to the day you start classes — and usually after!
What questions should you ask during your admissions interview?
There’s no right or wrong questions to ask. Here are the questions we think are most helpful:
- What sort of internship/co-op opportunities does Clarkson have?
- How will I make my schedule each semester?
- What does the admission timeline look like?
- Are there scholarship due dates?
- Do you offer early action/early decision? What is the difference?
- What happens if I come to Clarkson and want to change my major?
- Can first-year students have cars on campus? Is there a parking fee?
- If I don’t bring a car to campus, what are my transportation options?
- What is Clarkson’s job placement rate?
- What is the average class size at Clarkson? Student-to-faculty ratio?
- Do you accept AP/IB credits? What about dual enrollment courses?
- What is student life like?
- What clubs and other activities do you offer?
- What division are your sports teams?
- What is there to do off campus? Do Clarkson students mingle with students from the other colleges nearby?
- Are there work-study jobs available? If I don’t qualify for work-study, can I still work on campus?
- What sort of study abroad programs are available at Clarkson?
- Does Clarkson have an honors program? If so, how do you apply for it?