Preparing for College

Will Colleges Interview High School Juniors?

Question: My son is about to begin his junior year in high school. We plan to visit college campuses during school vacations. Is it possible to schedule admissions interviews if he's only a high school junior? It's doubtful we'd travel again to all these places in his senior year.

Many colleges will not officially interview juniors until the spring, so if you squeeze the bulk of your visits into a March or April vacation, you'll be fine.

However, if you were planning on earlier interviews, then you'll have to negotiate individually with each college on your list. If you live in Hawaii, Alaska, or overseas--or you'll be coming from an opposite coast--then you may have more wiggle room than if your home is just several hours away by car. In some cases your son may be offered "informational interviews"---that is, a chance to sit down informally one-on-one for a brief chat with a staff member that won't "count" as an official session.

If you're visiting before the spring, many colleges may recommend that you take a tour and attend an information session while on campus but then schedule an interview with a local alumnus later on, if a return to campus is impossible. Note, too, that there are colleges out there (e.g., Amherst, U. of PA) that conduct NO on-campus interviews at all.

Keep in mind as you make your plans that, at some colleges, an interview CAN make a difference between good news and bad news when verdicts are final, but at others--especially the most hypercompetitive places--the interview ranks very low as an evaluative tool, no matter how great it is. So don't feel that you are short-changing your son if you can't get him to campuses for an official interview.