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The College Conversation: Tips for a successful college interview

November 06, 2010|By Lisa McLaughlin

It is college interview season for high school seniors. Local college alums and admissions representatives from all over the nation are tirelessly meeting with college prospects for the sake of putting a face on the students' applications. Stomachs churn. Butterflies flutter. Doubts fill the room. The college interview is, unfortunately, one of the most gut-wrenching parts of the college admissions process.

The majority of high school seniors will never need to endure this rite — but for those students applying to selective private universities, your time has come.

Please allow me to calm some nerves.

First of all, the interviewers are not out to make you feel uncomfortable. It's actually just the opposite. They want to get the best out of you, and for the most part, will do everything they can to put you at ease.

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The interviewer does not expect you to be confident, poised and well spoken. If you're nervous, be honest about it. These men and women are not expecting the 18-year-old in front of them to feel 100% confident and self-assured. It's OK to be human.

Unless you are ridiculously late, offensive or act disrespectfully, your application will still be reviewed.

This is not the place for a suit and tie, nor is it the arena for a formal dress. Be comfortable but not overly casual. You want to show respect by "cleaning up," but you don't want to wear anything that will make you feel awkward during your interview. I recommend to clients that girls wear pants and a blouse or a casual dress and boys wear a button-down shirt and nice pants.

Prepare ahead of time. To get started, brainstorm a list of two to three academic or intellectual strengths and interests and do the same for your extra-curricular strengths or interests. Write in detail about your involvement in the above and consider how these interests are original and uniquely represent you.

Maybe you are an avid reader — inspired by what you read in English class, so much so that your bookshelf is overflowing with novels you read for pleasure. Or biology might be your favorite subject. It might not be the one that earns you straight A's, but it inspires you to think about the world around you. Consider what projects, conversations with teachers, or debates in class got you fired up.

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