College interviews at their homes?

Most college interviews used for admission don’t take place on campus. They’re handled by graduates of the college who volunteer to interview applicants who live in the same geographical area, usually at the interviewer’s work, at a coffee shop, a restaurant, etc.

But what if your interviewer invites you to their home?

It’s not something that happens often, but in the last couple years, I’ve noticed this question appearing frequently enough that I want to address it here.

Some students and parents are understandably uncomfortable with this scenario. Your college interviewer is a person you don’t know and haven’t even met. And many applicants to college are still minors, which is precisely why I’ve never heard of a college asking their interviewers to bring students to their homes. I’m not suggesting that such an invitation is in fact cause for alarm. But you also shouldn’t feel obligated to do anything that makes you or your parents uncomfortable.

So how should you address it?

1. Call the college. As usual, this call should always be made by the student, not the parent.
2. Tell the person your name, that you’re applying for freshman admission, and that you’d like to speak to someone about your upcoming meeting with your interviewer. The person will likely have you speak with the admissions rep who coordinates interviewing in your area.
3. Explain that you’ve been invited to meet at your interviewer’s home, and ask if this is something the college encourages. You can do this in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re being paranoid (you’re not), or like you’re trying to get anyone in trouble (you’re not doing that, either). For example:

“I had a question about my upcoming interview. My interviewer has asked that we meet at his home. And before I do, I thought that I should call and at least ask if this is something you encourage. I’m really looking forward to interviewing, and I’m happy to do whatever you suggest. But I’d feel a little more comfortable if I checked with you first.”

What will almost certainly happen is that your admissions rep will tell you that they would prefer that interviewers not meet at home. They will either assign you to someone else, or they will speak to the interviewer themselves and ask that they not meet with applicants in their homes. Either way, this will not reflect badly on you.

And here’s what else will probably happen. Your admissions rep will probably make a note in your file about this entire interaction. They’ll know that the interviewer put you in an awkward position and that you handled it in just about the most mature, responsible way a high school student possibly could have. You didn’t have your parents call for you. You made it clear that you were simply asking how the college wanted you to proceed. You reiterated that you were looking forward to meeting with your interviewer. And you’ll have demonstrated to the college that you’re exactly the type of student who can navigate your way smartly and safely without Mom or Dad making every decision for you.