How to Make the Most of Informational Interviews

July 14, 2021
A post by Austen Kelso, Senior Assistant Director of Admission and India Henderson, '21

As most colleges begin to open their doors to visitors, many prospective students have reached out to us asking for ways to learn more about the University of Richmond if they are unable to travel to campus to attend a guided tour. And while we hope you can join us for a campus visit, we understand that is not always possible. Yes, you can do research on our website, and yes, you can check out beautiful photos of campus on the University Instagram, but how can you get an authentic feel for what it means to be a Spider from a distance?

The answer is quite simple: the best way to learn about the student experience at Richmond is to talk with a current student or alum! For the remainder of summer and well into the fall, our office is offering Virtual Spider Chats as a way for rising high school juniors and seniors to connect with current Richmond students and graduates over Zoom. Spider Chats are 15-minute informal conversations that allow prospective students to ask current student interns or alumni about academics, student life, housing, food, extracurricular activities, etc. These conversations are nonevaluative, meaning they will not be considered with your application should you decide to apply. They truly are just an opportunity for you to get a feel for Richmond!

Whether you’re registering for a Spider Chat, or interviewing with another school, here are some tips from a seasoned student Admission Intern, India Henderson, on what to do and what not to do during these conversations:

Do:

  1. Become generally familiar with the “basics” of the university – number of students, majors that interest you, etc. As interviewers, we want to make the most of our time together and provide you with information not readily found on our website.
  2. Be prompt and prepared with at least one question you have for the student (or alum) you will be speaking with (this will help you and us both!).
  3. Find a quiet, appropriate space where you can have the call – maybe a desk or at a table in your home.
  4. Ask lots of questions! If the interviewer with whom you are speaking does not have some of the answers you are seeking, you should feel comfortable asking them to connect you with another university community member who might be better versed in a particular subject.
  5. Remember that this is an informational interview and has no bearing on your admission to the university – so please relax and be yourself!

Do Not:

  1. Schedule an appointment without putting it on your calendar. We are very excited to be getting to know you, but it’s no fun when we’re staring at a blank Zoom screen for 15 minutes because you didn’t show up.
  2. Ask us about our GPAs, SAT or ACT scores, or other schools we were accepted to during our college selection process.
  3. Bring your parents or guardians to the call. This opportunity was created to allow space for student questions. (But if they want to learn more, direct them to an upcoming info session!)
  4. Stress yourself out! We were in your position not too long ago and are here to help you get to know Richmond.

As a former student intern, myself, I can tell you that Spider Chats really are a fun, informal way to learn more about the school in a stress-free environment! If you’re interested in learning more about the University of Richmond from a student perspective, you can register for a Virtual Spider Chat here.