College Interview Questions: What Prospective Students Should Ask But Don't

by Tobin Perry

As you plan for college, you’ll likely have many questions, and that’s a good thing. Your first year of college represents one of the most significant transitions you’ll make in life. The more you can enter it empowered with the knowledge you need, the greater the chance of success.

To help you find the right questions, Drew Brown, who leads Azusa Pacific University’s team of admissions representatives, shared the questions prospective college students should ask—but don’t.

Important But Rarely Asked College Interview Questions

College admissions representatives like Brown are ideal resources for prospective students. He encourages students to go beyond the common questions and ask ones that may be even more important to their overall college success. He points out three in particular:

1. Can the university support me on a bad day?

No matter how ready you are for college, you’ll need help on some days. “The reality of life is that it can be difficult at times, and the sun isn’t always shining,” Brown said. “You get a stomach bug, or the person you have a crush on doesn’t like you back. I think it’s really important to ask: does this university that I’m looking at have resources available?” Brown specifically recommends students ask about the physical and mental health resources available to students.

2. How accessible are the professors at the university?

The college learning experience goes beyond what happens while you’re sitting in a classroom. Some of your most important learning experiences will happen in one-on-one and small group environments with professors. So, it’s important to ask how the university helps nurture the student-professor relationship.

This also pays dividends far beyond the classroom. “The reason APU has such good job placement track records and grad school placement track records is because we have smart students,” Brown pointed out. “But it’s also because the faculty have been with them for four years, as opposed to maybe one semester of their senior year. So they know them and have connections and can use those connections to get them placements.”

3. How does the university provide a sense of belonging for students?

As you’re making plans to attend college, you’re thinking about many important factors, including academics and finances. But opportunities to develop strong peer relationships in college also matter, as every student needs a tribe. You want to know that the college you choose sees you as a person, not a data point or dollar sign.

“Go to a college that is going to continue that shaping process in ways that truly seek your best interests and not you as an entity, whether that’s a GPA or a paycheck, but you as a holistic human being,” Brown emphasized. “If you can find a place that’s going to value that, then your education is going to be phenomenal.” That’s why it’s important to ask how the university helps students find their tribe and flourish in it.

Important Questions—for Later

There’s no such thing as a bad question, especially as you’re making an important decision about where you’ll continue your education. But some college admissions interview questions prospective students often ask at this stage may be better for a later time. Or, they may simply be based on false impressions or incorrect understandings. Here are two common questions that Brown suggests you wait until later to delve into or make decisions on.

1. How expensive is the university?

While it’s important to think about costs when deciding on a college, realize that a school’s sticker price often has little connection to what you’ll end up paying, thanks to extensive financial aid packages. “At APU, for example, 100 percent of our students receive a scholarship between $11,000 and $22,000,” Brown explained. “So every student receives some form of aid. The question is: what does it look like after that aid is applied?”

2. What kind of program does the university have in my major?

You shouldn’t put much pressure on yourself to know exactly what you want to do with your life before starting school, Brown cautioned. He noted that most students change their major three times during college, so it’s better to consider the journey more at this stage, not the destination. Focus on whether you’ll have the opportunity to explore your passions, discover new talents and interests, and find the best path for you.

Ask and You Shall Receive

The college admissions process is one of the most important transitions in your life. You’re choosing a university where you’ll make critical decisions that will impact your entire life. Want some help thinking through some of these college interview questions? Visit APU’s admissions site for information about how you can contact one of the school’s admissions representatives.