What to Wear to a College Interview

It’s summertime and many college bound high school juniors entering their senior year are going to make the most of it by going for summer on-campus interviews.

Many colleges no longer require interviews, but they can give a student the edge if the school is forced to choose between closely matched applicants.

The question then becomes, “What to Wear?”

According to some fashion experts, and this college advisor, students shouldn’t show up in jeans, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, sandals, Crocs, or anything that ‘s too tight, too short, too sexy or too revealing. Think summer at the country club, and that doesn’t mean the pool.

The key is for a student to dress in a manner that suggests they are serious and that they are taking the meeting seriously. It’s about putting their best foot forward and showing respect, enthusiasm, and interest in a formal atmosphere. It’s also important that they feel comfortable and confident.

For men, a safe list of clothes includes khakis, tie, collared shirt, and jacket. For ladies, a nice blouse, long skirt/pants, and possibly a jacket. Showing a flash of your own style is nice as long as it doesn’t include anything provocative or profane. And, please, clothes do need to be neat, not as if the student fell out of bed and into yesterday’s clothes.

An interviewee should look, not only sound, impressive. The big picture of any student for a school is that this is going to be a representative of them.

Of course, students can always argue that if a college doesn’t like the way they are, maybe the college isn’t for them. Remind them that focusing too much on “being yourself” in an interview can take away from what is far more important to universities, and that is who they will become. After that, you need to trust their common sense. Or bribe them with a quick shopping spree.

Of course, if a prospective college student has a brilliant transcript and sterling SAT scores, those will trump even the scruffiest of looks.

Then again, here are some real no-nos that some college admissions officers swear they’ve seen. Students who:

Arrive barefoot

Obviously haven’t showered in days

Sit on the floor, rather than the chair provided

Put their feet up on either the couch/chair or coffee

Pick their noses (or at any part of their body)
during the interview

Swear during the interview

Answer their cell phone and text

Wear their earphones the entire time

Good luck out there! And remember no gum chewing during the college interview!

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them. I work with international students (9 countries and counting!) as well as those in the U.S. Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors


By the way, my college advising company is opening a new branch of International College Counselors in NYC so now you can visit our college advisor NYC as well.

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