There are many intimidating college interview questions, but "Why should we accept you?" college interview question is perhaps one of the most challenging ones out there. Acceptance rates for colleges in the US make one thing clear: you want to be an exceptional candidate and this question is precisely your chance to show the admissions committee that you are the best candidate for their school. Whether you are trying to get into an Ivy League college, one of the UC schools, or another college of your dreams, you need to prepare a stellar answer to this question. We are here to guide you through the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question and provide you with the best answers to this question so you can compose your own!
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“Why Should We Accept You?” College Interview Question Explained
You might think that admissions committees are just trying to trip you up with this question, but this is not entirely so. What you’ve got to understand is that looking through thousands of applications and meeting thousands of applicants in interviews year after year is a pretty tedious task. College admissions committees really look for something outstanding in their students, especially in Ivy Leagues and other high-ranking US colleges, such as MIT or Stanford. When they ask for college essays or supplemental college application essays, even the easiest Ivy League schools to get into want something special to grab their eye.
This is also the reason why they keep asking the same old interview questions like “Tell me about yourself" and "Why should we accept you?". These simple questions give students the opportunity to be creative and stand out among others. The "Why should we accept you?" college interview question is your chance to become a memorable candidate and leave a lasting positive impression on your admissions committee.
As an open-ended question, "Why should we accept you?" gives you the opportunity to focus on your strengths. You might run into other questions that will focus on your shortcomings like "What is your greatest weakness?" or "Tell me about a time you failed", but "Why should we accept you?" is your chance to emphasize your strengths, unique qualities, and skills. Take this chance and be creative.
How to Prepare for “Why Should We Accept You?” College Interview Question
Here’s out failproof strategy for answering the “Why should we accept you?” college interview question:
Research the School
While the question is undoubtedly focused on you, it should also be considered in the context of the school you’re interviewing at. So, the first step in preparing for the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question is researching the school where your interview is taking place.
Check out their mission statement. What does it tell you about the kind of students they are looking for? Review the program that you want to join – what kind of research do they engage in? What is the faculty working on? What is the curriculum like? What courses are they offering? What kind of societies and clubs does your program of choice have? All this information should indicate the kind of applicants they are looking for.
Remember, there will be thousands of applicants with high GPAs and SAT scores, especially if you’re applying to schools like Harvard or Yale, so it’s really your other engagements that will help you stand out here. By researching the school you will get an idea of what kind of experiences, skills, qualities, and events in your life make you not only a great fit for your chosen school and program but also how you can impress the admissions committee and what you can contribute to your college community if you get accepted.
Here're some more college interview questions you can get ready for:
Reflect on Your Experiences
Now that you know what the school and program are looking for, time to brainstorm what kind of skills, events, and experiences can compose your answer. Remember, the grades and the standardized test scores are not going to be enough. If you want to focus on your academic prowess, think about extracurriculars for college that you engage in. Did you attend a conference and present a persuasive speech topic to your peers? This can certainly demonstrate your academic strengths. Or did you complete a research project in a summer program for high school students? This can certainly demonstrate your academic strengths. So forget about academic items on your college CV that everyone will have, such as grades and courses – think about what unique experiences you had in the academic sphere instead.
And keep in mind that your answer should not be limited to academic experiences! You can really talk about anything, including sports, clubs, hobbies, volunteering, arts, crafts, music, and so on. There is really no limit to what you can cover. The key is to consider these experiences using the lens of what you learn about the school where you interview. For example, let’s consider a part of Brown University’s mission statement in the Political Science department:
We believe that a diverse community, one that brings a wide range of perspectives and experiences to the study of politics, is crucial to our mission of advancing knowledge about political life through the very best research and teaching.
Knowing that Brown's Political Science department looks for applicants with diverse backgrounds should give you a hint about what your answer could cover. Consider these sample answers:
I believe that accepting me would bring a unique perspective to your college community. Coming from an immigrant family from Colombia, I have experienced firsthand the challenges and triumphs of adapting to a new culture. One of the amusing instances that comes to mind is when I first arrived in the United States, and I mistook the phrase "break a leg" for an actual wish of harm. You can understand my puzzled looks when I first heard my classmates yell this out to me before a school play! But these conundrums and challenges are what shaped me, and my immigration is a transformational experience I would never give up.
My immigrant background has deeply influenced my desire to study political science. Witnessing the socio-political climate in both Colombia and the United States, I am driven to understand and contribute to the systems that shape our societies. I believe that my perspective, shaped by the struggles and aspirations of an immigrant family, will enrich classroom discussions and bring a fresh lens to the study of politics.
Moreover, my multilingual abilities would be an asset in an increasingly globalized world. Growing up in a household where my father is Colombian and my mother is Russian, I had the privilege of learning Spanish and Russian as a child. This linguistic versatility has allowed me to bridge cultural divides and connect with diverse communities. I am eager to utilize my language skills as a means to foster understanding and collaboration among individuals from different backgrounds here at Brown, and as a Brown alumnus.
And if you think you need a cataclysmic event like immigration to stand out in your answer, think again! Here’s another take on this question for Brown University’s Political Science department:
I am the captain of my high-school lacrosse team. And if you want to learn about lacrosse, you’re talking to the right gal. I can talk about this sport for hours. I have learned invaluable qualities of leadership, determination, and teamwork through this sport. About a year into my time on my high school lacrosse team, I learned about its ties to Native American culture. This connection has captivated my interest since. My final research paper in my junior History class was focused on the role lacrosse played in Native American culture as a social and educational phenomenon. Exploring the origins and cultural significance of lacrosse has deepened my appreciation for the sport and sparked my curiosity about Native American history.
Through my research into the history of Native Americans, I have become acutely aware of the social and political challenges faced by indigenous populations. This newfound understanding has fueled my interest in studying political science and law. I hope that by pursuing these fields at Brown University, I can equip myself with the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for and initiate positive change for Native American communities.
I am eager to engage with diverse perspectives at Brown University, contribute to meaningful discussions, and actively work towards a more equitable society. Accepting me would not only fulfill my personal aspirations but also provide me with the platform to make a difference in the lives of others.
These two examples should give you an idea of how you can use your background, skills, or interests to compose a compelling answer. In one of the answers, we see a multilingual immigrant share and demonstrate why they should be accepted to this prestigious institution. On the other hand, we have a lacrosse team captain showcase what makes her stand out and how she can contribute to her college community. Both students provide very strong reasons for why they should be accepted based on the mission of the political science department, but they come from very different perspectives. This should show you how creative you can get!
Practice in a Mock Interview
The best way to prepare for this question and any other college interview question you may encounter is to practice your answer in a mock interview. College mock interviews are realistic simulations of college video interviews or in-person interviews. This is truly the only way to ensure interview success.
Mock interviews are invaluable because they give you a chance to experience college interviews as if you were already there. You know those annoying things you might not notice about your interview behavior like saying "umm" or "like" too many times? Or twirling your hair as you speak to calm your nerves? Mock interviews will help you eliminate these issues and practice appropriate interview behavior. College admissions consulting experts will help you learn how to act in an interview with poise and leave a lasting positive impression on your interviewers, whether you meet them in person or on screen.
Most importantly, mocks will let you practice and polish your answers to common college interview questions. The feedback you will get on the content and structure of your answer will not only help you articulate it better but also help you really nail down answer strategies you learn in the mocks. The experts that run your mock interviews will not let you attend the interview until you can ace this and other questions, so you will definitely know you are ready when they give you the green light.
Mocks cannot help you memorize answers or guess what interview questions will come up, but you can build strategies for approaching different questions and not freeze if you do not get the exact question that you practiced with. Mock interviews will give you the confidence to face anything that comes up in your interviews. It will feel as if you have already been there and done that when you attend your interviews for real.
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More “Why Should We Accept You?” Sample Answers
Let’s review a couple of more examples of how you can answer the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question. Keep in mind the strategy we outlined above:
Let’s consider Dartmouth’s Engineering program. Here’s their mission statement:
We prepare the next generation of leaders to solve problems through engineering thinking, research, and innovation with human-centered impact.
Clearly, Dartmouth’s Engineering department values research and innovation, so what kind of experiences can demonstrate this and wow your interviewers? Did you participate in a research project as a high school student? Did you attend a conference? Did you write back and forth with a prominent researcher or engineer? Did you and your classmates engage in any cool experiments? Are you a tech wiz? Do you love computers and know how they work? There may be millions of other suggestions, but these questions can help you start your brainstorming.
And here's what a sample answer to the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question could look like:
Research is my passion. My friend’s dad still jokes that he’s never met a kid who was more eager to go on a summer research trip than on a trip to Disneyland – that is until he met me. Last summer, I had the privilege of participating in the "Summer Scholars Research Program" at X University, where I worked closely with Professor Emily Thompson.
Under Professor Thompson's guidance, I honed my research skills and gained invaluable experience in data analysis and scientific inquiry. Our project focused on exploring the impact of climate change on local bird populations and their migratory patterns. Through this research, I learned how to collect and analyze data, conduct field observations, and collaborate effectively with a team of fellow scholars.
The Summer Scholars Research Program provided me with a unique opportunity to immerse myself in a rigorous academic environment and engage in hands-on research. It sharpened my critical thinking abilities, fostered my curiosity, and taught me the importance of perseverance in the face of challenges. I am confident that the skills and knowledge I acquired during this program will greatly contribute to my success at Dartmouth and beyond.
This answer is beautifully tailored to the program the student is applying for. Engineering departments generally value research and technological progress and structured research experiences are a great way to showcase your interest in these aspects of human knowledge. But this is not the only way. Consider this alternative response to the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question for Dartmouth's engineering program:
I love nature documentaries. When I was a child, I would be glued to the TV screen with the Discovery channel on, marveling at the beauty and intricacies of the natural world. This love for learning about the environment led me to explore filmmaking during my junior year of high school.
For my final project in a film class, I created a short documentary film that delved into the influence of oil refineries on the environment. This project allowed me to combine my passion for filmmaking with my desire to raise awareness about pressing environmental issues. To my delight, the film received recognition and praise when it was showcased at a local film festival.
During the process of making this documentary, I conducted extensive research on the detrimental effects of oil and its impact on ecosystems. This research awakened a deep sense of responsibility within me. I realized that I wanted to be more than just an observer; I wanted to actively contribute to finding sustainable solutions.
It is this realization that has propelled me to pursue engineering at Dartmouth, with a specific focus on alternative sources of energy. I want to use my skills and knowledge to create innovative solutions that can mitigate the environmental challenges we face. By accepting me into your college, you would be allowing me to further my understanding of engineering, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and contribute to finding sustainable solutions for our world. With my drive, creativity, and determination, I am confident that I will be a valuable asset to Dartmouth’s community and a catalyst for positive change in the field of renewable energy.
This is an example of how creative you can get with this question. The answer is super memorable and impressive, yet the student does not use any of the traditional experiences like research, academic papers, or courses to showcase their suitability for engineering. This is why this answer is strong!
1. Why do programs ask the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question?
Most colleges want to find candidates who stand out among the crowd. Simple questions like this allow you to bring up something unique about yourself and make a connection between yourself and the school.
2. How long should my answer be?
Keep it to 1 minute long or shorter.
3. How should I prepare for the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question?
Start by researching the school. Once you understand its mission, goals, research, and curriculum, consider what experiences, skills, and events in your life are connected to the school’s mission and vision.
4. What’s the best way to practice my answer to the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question?
College mock interviews are the best way to prepare.
5. What other interview questions should I prepare for?
You should prepare for questions like "Tell me about yourself", "Why our school?" or "Why our program?", "tell me about a time you failed", "tell me about a time you were a leader", "what do you do for fun?", and so on.
6. Do all colleges ask the "Why should we accept you?" college interview question?
Yes, most colleges will ask this question in one form or another. This question may be phrased slightly differently, but you should expect it. And keep in mind that this question may be used for supplemental college essays as a prompt. You can use the same strategy we outline for your essay.
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