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Articles / Applying to College / College Interviews for International Students

June 20, 2007

College Interviews for International Students

Question: I live outside the U.S. and am unable to travel to America for college interviews. I've heard that the personal interview is an important part of the admission process. Will I be at a disadvantage if I don't have one? My top choices are Harvard, Yale, and MIT.

Interviews play a funny or perhaps confusing role in the admission process at many highly selective colleges. That is, while it's usually a good idea to have them, and it's certainly advisable to put your best foot forward when you do, they ultimately don't play a very large part in the final admission verdict, at least not at the very most competitive schools. So, if you CAN arrange an interview at your top-choice colleges, it's worthwhile but, if you can't, don't lose any sleep over it.

All of the colleges you named (Harvard, Yale, and MIT)--along with many other prominent schools--offer interviews conducted by alumni to many international students in their home countries. Most college Web sites provide information about whether it's possible to have an interview close to home and--if so-- how to schedule it. (Usually this information is listed along with other instructions for international students but sometimes you have to hunt elsewhere---e.g., under "Interviews," "FAQ's," etc.). If you can't find the information you seek on the Web site, e-mail admission offices for details.

In some cases (e.g., Harvard and MIT) it is the responsibility of the applicant (YOU!) to obtain the name of the local alums who conduct interviews. In other cases, however (e.g., Yale) an alumnus will contact you after you have applied (but if you don't hear within a reasonable amount of time, it's okay to contact the admission to see if there is indeed an interviewer who has your name.)

Below are links to international-student interview info at the colleges you named.


You'll see that Harvard interviews are available in many countries but not all.



Note these MIT instructions:

MIT alumni around the world volunteer to interview students who apply to MIT. You will receive your interviewer's name and contact information via your MyMIT account. Please note that there may be times when there is no interviewer in your area and we will waive your interview. You are not required to have an interview, but if you choose to have one, it is your responsibility to schedule it. The deadline for your interview is the December 15th before your application deadline.

So do make the effort to arrange an interview, if it's possible, but don't worry if it's not.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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