Inside the Admissions Interview
Students enjoy a beautiful fall day on Miller lawn.
By Carter Stevens ’13 and Marcus Josefsson ’13
“What do you wish you could change about Colby?” As current seniors and interviewers in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, we get this question a lot from prospective students. The best answer we’ve come up with to date? The weather. We wish it were colder and snowier.
This year, and for the first time in Colby’s history, most admissions interviews are being conducted by one of us, a group of 10 senior admissions interns. We know how nerve-wracking the college admissions process can be, and we’ll do anything (well, maybe not anything) to take some of the pressure off of interviewees.
Talking with current students in the on-campus interview offers a number of advantages for prospective students. For us an interview is all about getting to know the person behind the standardized test scores, GPAs, clubs, and activities, so we try to help students open up more than they might when talking to a dean or a director. We want to carry on a real conversation with the student to help understand what makes her or him tick.
In addition to a higher level of comfort in their interviews, students interested in Colby get to see, hear, and feel what Colby is all about. The Colby experience comes alive through direct interaction with current students, because we’re currently enrolled in classes, participating in sports, and involved in activities on campus and beyond.
By far the best part of the job for us is when students share their stories. We’ve had a student from Europe who studied in the Midwest for a year; another who flew all the way from Los Angeles; and one who lives half an hour away and is already taking college classes at a local community college.
But even more incredible than the geographic diversity of the people we get to meet every day is the range of their experiences. Athletes, adventurers, musicians, authors, (and sometimes a mix of all these traits) come with their own exciting stories, personalities, and ideas.
As current students, we ask ourselves important questions in each interview trying to get to the bigger picture. Could I see this student excelling, contributing, and enjoying him or herself as a student at Colby? The answer is often “Absolutely!” and those moments add satisfaction to the job.
Beyond getting to meet and interact with visiting students, we also get to see the application process from a new perspective and (finally) get to see how things work behind that admissions curtain. As we move between offices each day to give interviews, we hear about applicants’ stumbles and successes, things that are helpful additions to the admissions file. Every now and then we are excited to discover that the student we interviewed a few weeks ago, the one who embodied everything we hope Colby to be, is applying Early Decision.
Despite our best efforts to mix the serious with the lighthearted and our attempts to keep things personable, conversational, and fun, occasionally a student overcome with the stress of the college search just can’t hold back tears. If that’s you, don’t worry—it’s not a deal-breaker, even if all we can do is offer a tissue or a lollipop.
When the excitement of a good interview and the emotion of finally finding a school that feels like home culminates in a bit of bawling, that’s awesome. Note for the file: Colby isn’t just another stop on this student’s college tour.
Marcus Josefsson ’13 was born in Sweden but grew up in Portsmouth, R.I. He’s majoring in economics with a concentration in math and financial markets. He serves on the executive board of the Colby Student Investment Association, is a member of the Colby Sailing Club and the Entrepreneurial Alliance, and is an active participant in iPlay soccer and handball. Marcus studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, during his junior year. Carter Stevens ’13, from Shrewsbury, Mass., is a history and government double major with a German studies minor. He serves as the Student Government Association’s president of Foss residence hall, co-president of the Model United Nations, co-president of Four Winds Native American Alliance, and is an active participant in the Colby Cares About Kids (CCAK) mentoring program. He studied in Berlin, Germany, last year.