What To Bring To A College Interview to Boost Your Odds

What To Bring To A College Interview

Preparing for a college interview is nerve wracking on it’s own. Things are definitely kicked up a notch when you’re trying to figure out exactly what you need to bring to a college interview. So, stress not kind readers! We are totally going to hook you up with everything you need to know, everything you need to bring and lots more!

Let’s get right into the good stuff now! Here’s what to bring to a college interview:

Must Haves:

Think of these things like your American Express…Don’t leave home without them! What? Don’t remember those commercials? Fine, we may be dating ourselves a bit here, but you get the hint!

  • Resume: Bring in your resume and make it shine! Add your job history, extracurricular activities and anything else that you think will make you look like the rock star you are.
  • Test Score/Transcripts: Don’t forget your relevant test scores and applicable transcripts. The interviewer will probably want to see these if they don’t already have a copy on hand. It makes you look super prepared even if they do already have the info on hand, so don’t hesitate to bring it along.
  • Questions: Make a list of questions you’d like to know about the college or university and check it twice! Once you’ve done that slip it in a folder with your transcripts and/or test scores. Whipping up a solid list of great questions will send a message to the interviewer that you are in it to win it. Plus, it’s just a simple and effective way to keep your thoughts organized.
  • Notebook and Writing Utensil: Definitely take notes during the interviewing process to ensure that you don’t forget an important details that you may need to reference later on. Again, this sends a message to the person interviewing you. It will let them know that this interview and getting into college is something you take seriously.
  • Personal Identification: You may want to bring along any personal identification documents you have. This is a good idea just in case there are any questions that need to be answered as well as the possibility of needing the documents to finish up your admissions paperwork.

Try to have these things handy: birth certificate, shot records, proof of residency, health forms, personal contact information for yourself and emergency contacts and anything else that may prove useful during a college interview.

Honorable Mentions:

This section may not apply to everyone or to every college interview you sit through. Having said that, there are some additional things that you may want to consider bringing along with you. Think about what college you’re interviewing at and anything else that may increase your chances of getting accepted. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Sample of Your Work/Portfolio: Bringing along some examples of what you’re really good at is a perfect way to get into the good graces of your interviewer if you’re attempting to score a spot at a school for a particular skill or talent you possess. Bring a decent sized brag book so that you can show off just a tad.

This is a super idea for anyone looking to get into an art or writing program. Having an example of what you’re hoping to further foster at school is a pretty solid way to stick around inside the head of the person interviewing you. It may also really increase your odds of being accepted if you can provide the goods and are prepared without being prompted.

Obviously every interview and college is different so use your best judgment when trying to determine what to bring and what to leave behind. We’re big fans of covering your assets and encourage you to cover all the bases in a reasonable way. It can’t hurt to have the good stuff with you, especially if your portfolio or sample is easily mobile.

  • Video: Having a video of yourself in action demonstrating a particular skill is another super helpful tool to have in your toolbox. You can bring something like this along if you’re an athlete or musician for sure! It will be great to pull out a little clip of yourself doing what you do best and it will allow your interviewer to see what you’re made of, too.
  • Instrument/Monologue: Nothing shows off your abilities quite like a front row see to the show, so don’t be too afraid to bring along an instrument or something to act out if you think it will give you a leg up. You may just “wow” the person interviewing you so much that they stamp “accepted” on your admissions application before you even finish your little demonstration.
  • Recommendation Letter: Definitely try to snag a recommendation letter or character reference for your interview. Colleges love to see that other people think you’re awesome and will give you a more thorough look if you have someone patting you on the back. Ask your professors, both past and present, to write up a little something. You can also ask your boss for a little something, too.Take the pats on the back and run with it! You’re certainly not going to hurt your odds by having some glowing words written in your favor to show the interviewer. In fact, you’re more than likely going to get a gold start for it!
  • Documentation of Extracurricular Activities: You may want to bring along some proof of your non-school related activities if they are going to make you look really good. Colleges eat that stuff up and love to see future students really giving life their all. Pictures, newspaper write ups and any other medium will work wonders as long as it lets you shine with the hope that you will stand out.


You can absolutely leave these things off your list when trying to decide what you’re going to bring to a college interview, but you may find you really need a little something extra without access to it until after your interview. Feel free to add to this list of bonus items that suite your personal needs. Here are our ideas for bonus interviewing aids:

  • Hand Sanitizer/Lotion: Keep your hands clean with a helpful little bottle of hand sanitizer. You don’t want to greet your interviewer with dirty of sticky hands, after all. Keep a tiny bottle in your pocket or purse just in case.You may want to have a small bottle of hand lotion handy, too. Dry or clammy hands can make for an awkward first encounter. Spare yourself the uncomfortable moment and put the lotion on if you think it will help. So put the lotion on your skin or we’ll have to break out the hose again…
  • Hair Needs: Tuck a comb or small brush in a discrete spot just in case you have to tame your mane. You can also bring along a small thing of hairspray or gel if you need to stage an impromptu hair styling session. Wind, rain and humidity happen when it’s least convenient and you may need to compensate for it.
  • Breath Mints: Gum isn’t a good idea when you’re waiting for your time to be interviewed, but breath mints are totally acceptable. Your mouth may get dry if you’re super nervous or you may have had a strong smelling snack before your appointment. Solve both of those issues with a small container of mints to freshen up a bit.

A Few Do’s and Don’ts

Knowing what to bring along with you to your college interview is definitely important, but why stop there?! We’re going to tie it all up with a neat little bow with a nifty little list of do’s and don’ts! Here we go:

  • Do show up on time. Punctuality is super important in life in general but especially when interviewing for college. It’s also the first impression you’re going to make and we all know first impressions stick around.
  • Don’t be too early, though. You don’t want to sit there forever and get eaten alive by your nerves.
  • Do dress to impress. Wear clean, wrinkle free clothing that is suitable for a job interview.
  • Don’t go heavy on the makeup, perfume or hair. Less is more here. Shy away from crazy make-up and hair. You want to look professional not like you’re headed to the club.
  • Do know the school your interviewing for and do your research. You can find out a ton of information on your own, so take the time to do it.
  • Don’t ask pointless questions that can actually be found on the school’s website or through Google.
  • Do practice your interviewing skills. Get a friend or family member to practice with you so you can shake your nerves while you work out any kinks in the way you answer questions.
  • Don’t tell the interviewer that their school isn’t your first choice or the easy option on your list. Instead, do your best to approach each interview at each school as if it is your first choice even if it’s not.
  • Do carefully answer any questions asked even if that means it takes a bit of time to think of an answer. The more you think about your answers, the better!
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for a question to be repeated. It makes you seem more thoughtful and will help you to more accurately answer the question if you fully understand it
  • Do pay attention to your body language as well as that of your interviewer. Try to refrain from picking at your fingers, twirling your hair and/or tapping your fingers. You want to seem confident even if you’re shaking in your boots.
  • Don’t get too comfortable, though! You want to seem respectful of the space you’re in and the opportunity to interview at the school, so sit up straight and give it your all.
  • Do try your very best to speak as intelligently and articulately as possible. This interview is a big deal and you want your interviewer to take you seriously.
  • Don’t show your interviewer how fond you are of f bombs and any other uber relaxed vernacular. You’re not texting or talking to your friends, so definitely curb your habits. Also try to hold back on words like “yeah,” “umm” and “totally”.
  • Do remain modest. It’s great to toot your own horn, but definitely do it in moderation.
  • Don’t cram your awesomeness down the interviewer’s throat. He/She likely won’t take too kindly to it and may even doubt your claims if you seem way too boastful.
  • Do embrace who you are and own it. Be yourself because everyone else is already taken, right?!
  • Don’t lay claim to skills or achievements that you don’t actually possess. You never know when those claims could turn around and bite you in the rear end.
  • Do let your personality shine through. Be pleasant and engaging as you speak with your interviewer. It’s a good sign that you’re totally present in the moment and it will help the interview move forward smoothly.
  • Don’t be so chatty that you talk over the interviewer. Definitely wait patiently for him/her to complete a thought or a question before speaking.

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