Posts Tagged ‘college interviews’

10 Steps to Nail Your Next College Interview

We’re very lucky to have the founder and CEO of Story To College, Carol Barash, PhD, as a guest contributor today! Here’s what she has to say about how to have a great college interview:


My daughter had her last alumni interview last week. Before she went to meet the interviewer at Starbucks (a good idea, by the way, you should always meet your interviewer in a public place), she asked me for advice. I told her:

Free your mind: First, write down all the stuff that’s cluttering your brain – from AP homework you haven’t finished to those new jeans you want but can’t afford– and let it go.

1. Who are you? Make a list of 2-3 things you want the interviewer to learn about you. What makes you different from people who – on paper – look pretty much the same?

2. Use stories to connect: This is the fun part! Let’s say you want to demonstrate courage. Think of stories that show your courage, without having to say, “I’m courageous.” Sometimes we overlook the obvious; what do you do every day that is really your own?

3. Share the details: Which one of these people are you most likely to remember?

    • “I organized a really big fund-raising event.”
    • “I started my school’s first Dance Marathon for cancer research. We raised $25,413 and involved 126 students and faculty”
    • “It was 6:56 in the morning, 4 minutes ‘til the end. I leaned over to my sweaty partner and said, ‘I can’t believe a year ago this was just an idea. There are over 100 people here. We are donating more than $25,000 to honor Hannah.’”

4. Own the space:  When you walk into the interview, do things get a bit fuzzy? Remember: that happens to everyone; it’s just your brain’s “fight or flight” response kicking in. Keep breathing and walking. Look around and say to yourself. “I own this space,” and with a smile and wide-open eyes, reach out to shake the interviewer’s hand.

5. Where are you? Research each school you are visiting. Imagine yourself as part of the community, and speak honestly from that place – e.g. “Last summer I worked in a neuroscience lab at NYU. Your website describes opportunities for undergraduate research. Can you tell me some more about that?”  

6. Expect the expected: Prepare answers for the most likely questions: Why do you want to apply to this college? What do you want to major in? Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.

7. Who are they? Connect with the interviewer as a person. Did they go to the school? How long have they worked in admissions? Ask them something that you really want to know!

8. Ask something new:  Come up with a question that’s really your own. Consider it a success when they say, “Wow, never heard that one before!”

9. Follow up: Write a thank you note (not email) and mail it right away. If the interviewer asked for something (your journalism portfolio, more information about summer courses), make sure to send it.

10. And whatever happens, let it go because that one is over and done! Learn for the next one, and keep swimming.

© 2012 Story To College. All rights reserved.


Do you have any experience or stories about college interviews? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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6 Tips for Your College Interview

Categories: Admissions Advice

flagEven though most colleges do not require that you have an interview, an interview can have a positive effect on your college application. Think of it as a super personal supplement to your paper application.

There are different types of college interviews. You might meet with an admissions officer on campus or an alumnus in your area. Whoever you wind up meeting with, an interview helps to demonstrate your interest in a school and what you can bring to campus.

Here are 6 tips to keep in mind during a college interview:

1. Be confident but not cavalier; Be humble but not self-conscious
Confidence is not the same as cocky, and humble is not the same as stilted. Know the difference before you head into an interview. The trick is to be comfortable in acknowledging your accomplishments and your strengths, but not too comfortable in self-congratulating yourself. Even if you’re a bit nervous going into the interview, try to feel and look comfortable while sitting down with your interviewer.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s too cocky to say and what works:

Overly Confident

Overly Timid

Just Right

This is will be the most interesting interview you’ve ever had. I’m sure you had plenty of other, more important things to do today. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for making time for this interview.
High school? I OWNED high school. No one noticed me in high school. I’m most proud of helping to raise $120,000 for Children’s Memorial over my four years.
YOUR COLLEGE NEEDS ME. I’d love to go to this college, but you guys probably have so many other better applicants. I would love to attend this college, and think I could really add to the community.

2. Be specific
It’s easy to fall into vague and ambiguous conversation. So, instead, think of 4-5 specific accomplishments, facts about yourself or whatever it is that you want to say to the interviewer if it fits in appropriately. Having these in mind before your interview will make it easier to think of during the actual conversation. 

3. Avoid reiterating your resume
If your interviewer has a copy of your resume or application, do not simply repeat its contents verbatim. It will not only make you look like a robot, but the point of the interview is to put some life into your application. Tell your interviewer something about yourself that’s not in your resume or application already.

4. Explain flaws in your application
An in-person interview is a great time to explain some of the discrepancies in your application. For example, if you had a tumultuous sophomore year because you’d just moved to a new school and you had trouble keeping up with your grades, let them know. Be careful of getting into woe-is-me zone. You do not want to give a sob story or explain all of your hardships. Just state a couple facts that explain a bad semester.

5. Know about the school
Just like a job interview, it would be a pity to get the interview, and then not know anything about the company.  Have substantial knowledge about the school you’re interviewing for. This will let your interviewer know that you are seriously considering the school. Drop hints about a program the college offers that you’re passionate about or a special fact about campus that interests you.

6. Ask your own questions
Yes, the interview is about you, but showing interest in the person you’re talking to never hurt anybody. Whether it’s dry questions about the admissions process or questions about their experience at the university, asking your own questions demonstrates a deeper interest in the college than a person who’s just there to talk about themselves.

Have you had a college interview? Any tips? Leave a comment!

Your Summer College Application To-Do List

Categories: Admissions Advice

Cappex SunIt’s June already, which means the school year’s over already, or you’ve got just a couple more days or weeks left.  Juniors, in a few months you will officially be seniors and knee deep in the college application process.

Right now you’re in the eye of the storm–so things look nice and dandy with blue skies and beach weather–but, the whirlwind of college essays, 20-page applications, teacher recommendations, ACT and SAT scores will hit you full on come September.

To keep you on track and help ease the unrelenting storm that is the college application season that brews in the fall, we’ve put together a simple to-do list for you:

–Finish your school year off strong
–Register for the October SAT if haven’t taken it or want to try again
–Choose which colleges you want to visit during the summer
–Use the easy Campus Visit Planner to help organize trips
–Request information and application materials from colleges
–Schedule an interview for when you plan to visit campus

Review applications so you know what you’ll need
–Visit college campuses, take tours and interviews
–Narrow down list of colleges you will apply to
Start rough drafts for college essays
–Register for September ACT if haven’t take it or want to try again

–Contact friends, or friends of friends, at the colleges you’re interested in to ask questions
–Create a organization system to keep track of the colleges you’re applying to and the materials that correspond
–Keep working on college essays
–Have in mind a couple teachers you would like to ask for recommendations

If you keep up with these things, you won’t be as stressed when you head back to high school as a senior.

Do you have any steps we should add to the list? Comment and let us know!