Best Interview Answers: Why Did You Choose Your College?

Young woman interviewing for an entry level job.

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When you apply for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question is, "Why did you choose your college?" By asking, the interviewer hopes to find out what makes you tick. Understanding why and how you made a major life decision provides a certain level of insight into your priorities and decision-making process. Answering this question well may just help you land the job.

What Not to Say

First things first, let's get what not to say out of the way. When asked about why you chose your college during an interview, you should never reply that it was because it was the only school that accepted you. 

Even if that was the case, you can frame your response in a much more positive way. After all, you chose to apply to the school that accepted you. So, think about what you hoped to gain from the school when you applied to it.

In general, avoid giving any response that paints you in a negative light (like that you chose your college because it's a known party school, for instance). 

What to Say

This interview question is your chance to show your ability to have made a proactive and thoughtful choice about the direction you wanted your life to take. Choosing what you want to emphasize depends on the job you’re applying for. 

Below are a few sample interview answers based on the benefits of attending either a small liberal arts college, a large university, or community college. You can build off of these answers and adjust them to fit your personal experiences and background.

Small Liberal Arts College

Some of the typical benefits small liberal arts colleges offer are:

  • A well-rounded education
  • Smaller class sizes
  • The chance to build close relationships with students and professors

Here are two sample answers someone who attended a small liberal arts college might use when asked why they chose their particular institution.

"I chose a small liberal arts college because I wanted a well-rounded education with the opportunity to sample courses from many different departments before I found my calling. I believe a liberal arts background is an asset in today's diverse world."

"I picked a small liberal arts college because I wanted smaller class sizes and the chance to establish close relationships with other students and my professors. I thrive in a collaborative environment, and I relished the opportunity to engage with other students and work together to complete projects."

Large University

Some of the typical benefits of a large university are:

  • A large, diverse student body
  • More choices of majors and specializations
  • More networking opportunities to help land internships and jobs

Below are three sample answers that incorporate some of the benefits of attending a large university.

"I chose to go to a large university because I like being part of a diverse student body. The world is a big place, and I thought attending a big school would better prepare me for life in the real world."

"My university has a very strong school of sciences, and I wanted to study under the best minds in the country. It also offered the specialization I was seeking, and I wanted to fast track my education."

"I chose to go to a large university because I wanted to maximize my post-college opportunities while still in school. We have a vast alumni network, and this helped me land a great summer internship."

Community College

While you may feel you chose a community college out of necessity, you can incorporate the benefits this type of school offers into your answer. These include:

  • Lower tuition costs
  • Greater flexibility
  • Opportunity to earn professional certificates

Here are two sample answers a community college graduate might use.

"I chose community college because I was supporting myself, and I wanted a college that was both flexible and affordable. While I was attending classes, I was also working 30 hours a week, but I still managed to get my associate degree in two and a half years."

"Starting at a community college was a good option for me. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, and this school allowed me to earn the professional certificate I needed to start my career."

Every Interview Question Is an Opportunity

Remember that every job interview question is a chance to reveal something desirable about yourself to your potential employer, including the question, "Why did you choose your college?" 

So, before you suit up and head into an interview, make sure you give your answer to this question some thought. Specifically, consider the ways you can align your choice of school with the job you are applying for, and then incorporate that into your answer.