What questions should I ask during a college interview?

I’m a high school senior and have several campus interviews coming up. I’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to ask a lot of questions that suggest that I’m only concerned with material things or my chances of admission. What types of questions should I think about asking during the interview? Are there any other topics to avoid?

There are three different types of questions you should ask during a campus interview.

  1. Good research-based questions. These are questions that show you've done your research before the interview, which means that you are genuinely interested in the school. A good example of this might be something like "I'm interested in participating in music groups and courses at the school, but I'm worried that I won't be able to if I'm not in the College of Music. Do music students get priority, and do you know if there are ever spaces in the groups for non-majors?" [This is an actual question I asked during my interview at Oberlin, a college to which I was accepted.] It's fine to ask non-academic questions about the school as well (for instance, if you're interested in studying French you might ask if there's French language housing). Because most schools area academically focused (since they're...schools), however, it'll look better if you focus your inquiries on (and so show your interest in) the academics of the school.

  2. Personal questions. These are questions which allow the interviewer to look back on his/her own experience at the college and also show that you care about learning more about the school. I don't mean questions like "How many parties did you go to?" - think more along the lines of questions like "What's one thing you wish you'd known before attending [school name]?" or "What was something you loved about [school name] that you weren't expecting to love?"

  3. Questions that show you've been listening. You can't really prepare for these questions ahead of time, but they're good to ask because they show that you're engaged in the conversation and have been paying attention to the interviewer. For instance, if your interviewer mentions that she was an RA, you could ask her about the community and social benefits of residential life and what she felt she gained from the experience.

Definitely avoid asking questions that could be easily answered by looking at the college's website (because it'll show that you couldn't even be bothered to do the most basic research) or questions about which department or major is best (because your interviewer will be reluctant to say that any one department is inferior to another). To learn more about the interview process, be sure to check out our articles on the 14 questions to prepare to answer for a college interview and a detailed look at the best questions to ask your interviewer.