As the long wait for college decisions comes to a close with the arrival of March, The Octagon interviewed seniors about their different experiences with college interviews.
I prepared a lot for my in-person interview with Middlebury. I thought a lot about where to put my computer, as we were going to conduct the interview over Skype. I felt that if I did it in some tiny corner of my house it would seem like I was trying to hide something. I decided to go with my room because it would signify that I was an open person, or something like that.
He (the interviewer) was rather different than the one from Georgetown. Instead of asking fact-based background questions (e.g. what I liked to do, what my interests were, etc.), he asked me about my spiritual and mental health. He saw my prayer flags and asked me if my interest in food was related to my interest in international studies. I had a lot of fun answering his questions because I knew the interview was going well.
I knew he’s just using my answers to gauge what kind of a person I was, but I felt I was better at answering these kinds of philosophical questions than the usual fact-based ones.—Connor Martin, Middlebury College
I sat down at a table and waited for a while for my interviewer from Princeton. I called him around 5 p.m.—our agreed time—but there was no answer. I left a message for him and waited 10 more minutes before deciding to go look in the waiting area. Then I called him again and there was no answer.
By then I was feeling a little embarrassed because I was just standing there. At one point, a waitress had to tell me to go wait in the bar because people were waiting for the tables and no one had shown up at mine.
I waited a little longer before deciding to leave. He later emailed me to apologize, saying he tried to call but his phone was dead. He said he could do it again in a few weeks, but I guess that fell through because he never followed up.—Abigail Pantoja, Princeton University
My dad’s coworker’s friend went to Dickinson, which is in Carlisle, Penn. She knew I was interested in law, and her best friend from college is a huge lawyer at McKenna and Aldridge (a large international law firm). She knew I was looking at schools and wanted me to check out Dickinson.
My dad and I were already in D.C., looking at schools like George Washington and Georgetown, so we decided to meet her in her office. It was a huge attorney’s office, and I felt a little out of place because everyone was dressed so formally and businesslike. I was originally nervous because she was taking time out of her busy schedule to interview me, but she was actually very down to earth. We talked for about two hours. We talked a lot about Dickinson and about how she got from there to where she is now. We also talked about things she wished she did. One piece of advice that she gave me was to decide what kind of law I want to go into and major in that for my undergraduate studies. For example, she needs to know how to read ballots for her type of law practice, but she didn’t really have time to learn that while in law school.—Sydney Jackson, Dickinson College
For my first-ever college interview, I had to go to a dentist’s office. I’m guessing he was chosen because I had applied to UPenn’s Bio-Dent program. It was my first time in an American dental clinic, so I was pretty nervous. I was afraid it would be very scary and formal because it was in his office.
He was actually still at work, so he was wearing his white coat, which made me think I was in a hospital. Surprisingly, he was actually really nice. We sat in his office, and he asked me questions about my background and my interest in dentistry. We had a great time talking about food trucks, a topic that came up when I mentioned missing the night markets in Taiwan.
It felt very relaxed and was a great experience because I think it went pretty well, and I wasn’t intimidated at all.—Ryan Ho, University of Pennsylvania
An interesting one was a phone interview with Barnard. My interviewer grew up in New York and moved to San Francisco. She emailed me about the interview, and we agreed that it would be inconvenient for me to go to San Francisco or for her to come to Sacramento. The interview . . . I don’t know—it felt kind of weird. You don’t have a face-to-face situation, so when you take the time to pause and think about things, it’s quite awkward. Also I wasn’t sure if I should call her or wait for her to call me because she mentioned that she had to put her children to sleep first. I was afraid to wake her kids up—that’d be a straight rejection.
My MIT interview was quite interesting because I had a guy from Korea, who came to the U.S. when he was a sophomore. Therefore, we sort of have the same background, which made it easier to communicate with him. He got what I was saying. Also, the thing with interviews is that they get easier and easier. I had my first interview with the University of Chicago, and I was very nervous. But after so many interviews I think I really like the process, for it shows who the student is as a person and not just as an applicant on paper. Interviews helped present who I really am.—Cissy Shi, Barnard College and MIT