Nervous, comfortable, and just right

The most frequent comment I hear from college interviewers: most applicants are far more nervous than they need to be.

The truth is that college interviews almost never make or break an applicant’s chances. In fact, interviews are the least important part of the process. Colleges that offer them do so to inject a small touch of personal interaction into an otherwise impersonal process and to gather one more piece of information to hopefully confirm or deny what an admissions committee has already decided about an applicant. But the results of those interviews almost never make or break an applicant’s chances. So an interviewee whose discomfort produces stilted answers, who just can’t relax and have a mature conversation with an adult, is letting unnecessary nerves affect the outcome.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should be too casual.

Respond promptly when your interviewer contacts you. When emailing, obey the laws of grammar and punctuation. Show up on time. Dress appropriately. Be polite and respectful. Try to make a good impression by showing your best self. This is your college interview, after all. You should never be blasé about something that’s important to you.

But once you’ve done those things, relax. Be yourself. Have a natural, enjoyable conversation. You’ll enjoy yourself more, and have better results, when you’re not too nervous, not too comfortable, but just right.