Preparing for College

On-Campus Interviews for High School Sophomore?

Question: I am a sophomore in high school and my sister is a junior. My parents have scheduled some college trips for her during our April break, and I am going, too. My sister is having interviews at three of the colleges we're seeing, but it's my understanding that interviews are not available to sophomores. However, all of these colleges are really far from our home, and there's no way that we'll be able to go back again next year or when I'm a senior. So should I try to schedule interviews, if I can?

Most colleges do not interview sophomores, but sometimes this policy can be flexible when there are extenuating circumstances such as yours. Contact the admission official in charge of your geographic region at each of the schools you'll be seeing. (The admission office receptionist can give you the name and contact info, if it's not on the Web site.) Tell him or her about the family trip and ask if an exception might be possible. In doing so:

-Be sure to ask an admissions officer for this exception, not the receptionist who might ordinarily schedule interviews since this is a policy decision which a receptionist may not be authorized to make.

-If you feel that you are an especially strong candidate for a particular college, you should try to include this information as well when you contact the admission official. You don't have to say anything brash like, "To know me is to love me," but you could mention in passing that you are a straight-A student or that you've taken PSAT's already and feel that you'll be in well within that college's "admit range," etc.

Finally, when you say that you live "really far" from the colleges that you'll be visiting, be sure that we're talking some serious miles. "Far" can be a relative term, and each family may view it differently. I've worked with students in Queens, NY, who think Philadelphia is "really far" from home ... "even too far" ... although the fittest of the lot could probably get there on a bicycle. ;)

Don't be surprised if the admission officials you contact recommend that you attend an info session on campus and take a tour with your sister but ask you to schedule an interview with an alumnus close to home next year rather than allowing one on campus for a sophomore. However, you may find that the practices will vary from school to school, so it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

Good luck and safe travels