interview

College applicant shakes hands with two interviewers at a desk

10 Tips For Your College Application Interview

For many schools, the path to admission includes a formal one-on-one interview with an admissions counselor or alumni representative. While some high school students may have experienced a job interview, it is unlikely that students have gone through an interview as important or detailed as this one. A college application interview is an opportunity to highlight your achievements, explain any shortcomings, and show colleges the type of person they will be getting if they extend you an acceptance offer. Below are ten tips to ensure your college application interview is a successful one.

#1 – Dress Professionally

Dressing professionally for an interview is more than simply wearing an old suit or a nice dress. Taking time to look as clean and professional as possible sends a strong message to the person interviewing you that you are taking this process seriously. Be sure your clothes are dry cleaned and fit well. If your professional clothing is too big or small, it is time to purchase a few items that fit you better. 

#2 – Share Your Portfolio

Most high school students do not have a resume because they lack a job history. Colleges aren’t looking to find out what positions you have held, they are looking to find out who you are, so use the interview as an opportunity to share what makes you special. You can utilize the myKlovr platform to help you create your portfolio, you’ve already uploaded your grades, awards and achievements, sports teams, volunteer commitments, and more! By presenting your character attributes and accomplishments, you give college interviewers a lot of great information. 

#3 – Research The School

Colleges want to accept students who want to specifically come to their school. Even though you may have applied to others, you need to express your interest in attending this one. Your research should include the year it was founded, famous alumni, what programs they are known for, and any recent events they hosted. Try to memorize a few of these facts and bring them up when you are answering questions.

#4 – Research Your Major

In addition to researching the college as a whole, it is essential to dive deep into the major you intend to study. Be prepared to explain why you chose that major and why you want to go to that specific school to study it. If you don’t know that’s ok, research the learning experience at the college. You can focus on educational opportunities abroad, teaching styles, as well as anything that will show to the interviewer that you have done your homework. It is also a good idea to research the faculty and write down any interesting notes about their work. 

#5 – Participate In Mock Interviews

Mock interviews allow you to craft the right answers to possible questions. The last thing you want is to forget an important detail or bomb a question because you were not prepared. While it is difficult to know exactly what they will ask, prepare to answer questions about anything you did in high school, why you want to attend that college, what your plans are after college, and stories about how past experiences have helped you become who you are today.

#6 – Know Where The Interview Is Located

It is important to show up at least 15 minutes early to your interview to show you are punctual and respect others’ time. Confirm the location of the interview and who it will be with once the appointment is made. Then, view a map of the school to understand where the building is. If possible, use Google Earth to understand what the building looks like. If the school is local, then take a drive the week before and find the building you need. If you are traveling to the school, arrive 30 minutes early to avoid any wrong turns or unforeseen delays.

#7 – Mind Your Body Language

We are often so focused on the words we are saying we forget that our body language and non-verbal cues speak for us as well. The most important thing to remember is to maintain eye contact throughout the entire interview. If you struggle with this, practice mock interviews with your parents or friends. Be sure to sit up straight at all times, this shows the interviewer you are prepared and ready to take the interview seriously.

#8 – Tell Your Story

The key to a good interview is to stand out from the rest of the candidates. While it’s important to point out all of your accomplishments, you need to find ways to separate yourself from the others. Tell stories about obstacles you have overcome, problems you have solved, or anything unique that the interviewer will remember. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk about anything you feel gives a complete picture of who you are and the value you will bring to the school.

#9 – Convey Your Value 

When answering questions, talk about how you see yourself as a student in the school community. Help the interviewer envision what it will be like to have you on campus every day. This includes clubs you plan on joining, classes you’re taking, events you are interested in, and the career you will pursue when you leave. Admissions officers want to make sure that they accept students who will be involved students and engaged alumni.

#10 – Ask Questions

At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. This is where you can show your genuine interest in the school and decide if this school is the right fit. Be sure to practice and ask questions about the size of the student body, types of events they host, the internships they offer, partnerships they have with companies, and anything else that helps you get a complete picture of the school. 

Conclusion

Interviews do not need to be stressful. Being prepared will allow you to focus on the task at hand of presenting the best version of yourself possible. Do the research, look professional, practice your answers, and ask questions. If you follow all of the tips on the list, you will be able to leave your interview knowing you did your absolute best.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

SPOTLIGHT: Terry Talks about Navigating the College Admissions Process With a Homeschooler

By Kendell Shaffer

Terry’s daughter Ceylon is a talented dancer who chose to homeschool during high school allowing more time for her dance training.

Hi Terry, I am super curious about the process for homeschoolers when it comes to applying to college, so thanks for sharing Ceylon’s story!

First question, did you hire a college counselor to help out?

Yes, we hired a College Counselor. The mother who mentored me through homeschooling made a recommendation. We met with her three times and she was available through emails and for proof reading.

How did Ceylon get teacher recommendations?

Getting teacher recommendations, was tricky. We homeschooled 11th and 12th grade so Ceylon reached out to her 10th grade English teacher from her old school who was happy to make a recommendation. She also was taking classes at City College and one particular teacher seemed interested in her educational goals. She had some reservations about asking him because college teachers often have limited knowledge of students but he had least seemed like the best candidate due to questions he had asked her about her future plans. Thankfully, he agreed.

Do you feel colleges were more accepting or dismissive of homeschool kids or did it not seem to matter?

I would say the schools that have a lower acceptance rate may have been more dismissive of her as a homeschooler. The current school she is attending gave her a dance department acceptance letter about two weeks after her dance audition. There was understanding that she most likely was accepted into the college but official confirmation was necessary. We were not notified of the final acceptance until the day before she was moving into her dorm. My guess is the review takes longer to conduct for homeschoolers.

Did the homeschooling high school classes she took satisfy the needs of the colleges?

There are two point of views among Homeschoolers as to whether to make sure you take A-G approved classes or not, in order to meet the California college requirements. The college counselor advised me that colleges also look at a student’s ability to be diversified in how and where courses are taken. The majority of Ceyon’s (high school) classes were college classes but she also took an online chartered school (curriculum) for a very small part. And, we hired a private tutor for her Algebra 2 and Statistics because she was not ready for those classes at a college level.

Do you think she had a leg up on other college Freshman this year? I bet being more familiar with college campus and classes really helped her adapt.

Ceylon has said more than once she is so happy to have done City College classes before attending her current school. She enjoyed being at a small campus before going to a much larger campus. What she is most grateful for is to have a year’s worth of credits in her freshman year. Her goal is to do college in 2 or 3 years.

Tell us about the audition process for applying to a dance program.

Ceylon did 4 auditions for college dance programs. She had narrowed her college applications down to only schools that the tuition was reasonable because she could not justify us paying a lot of tuition for a dance degree. This was completely her decision. Luckily all of the schools had a Los Angeles audition even if they were across the country. She was able to determine a lot about the dance programs based on what the audition was like. All of schools had a lot of perspective students auditioning with some schools needing to hold several auditions to accommodate all the possible students. Ceylon had done summer intensive auditions so she found the college audition to be very much the same as an dance intensive audition.

How involved were you in guiding her through her decisions? Do you feel like you understood how to navigate this world or since you were not in a traditional high school, did you feel like you had to figure everything out yourself?

I imagine parents in both traditional and home schools have their share of having to figure out the whole college process. Even though we hired a college counselor, I was still responsible for her High School transcripts and a Homeschool description of our program. As the School Counselor, I also had to write an objective recommendation letter for my daughter. The college counselor we hired kept Ceylon on track but it was up to me to navigate my part. Again, Ceylon was very practical in her decisions about schools. She wanted a college with a reputable dance department and not an expensive tuition. She realized to balance the academics and dance she did not want a school with too much rigorous academics.

Any final advice for other parents with children who homeschool?

I felt a huge sigh of relief to know she was accepted into colleges having done our own homeschool. The mother who mentored us had a daughter two years ahead of my daughter who got into all the schools she applied to so they modeled how to do it. I suggest you have someone who can guide you through the process. The greatest gift this mom gave me was how to do a transcript and a school description. Both took a lot of work.

Any final advice for parents whose children are applying to dance programs?

Ceylon may not be the best one to give advise on college dance programs. She is ambivalent about college for dancers. There is a lot of work in a dance program that requires you to complete both dance and academic requirements. The only way she was able to commit to a college dance program was to continue her training outside of college. She recently also did a teacher’s certification program for teaching acrobatic-dance. So for Ceylon’s goals there is more she desires than just the college degree.

Sounds like she is off to a great start! Best of luck to both you and Ceylon. 

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