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Positioning Yourself for Admission to College: The College Interview

Many colleges allow you to interview with an admissions representative, either on campus or in your hometown.

Not all schools grant interviews, and you shouldn't freak out if your local admissions rep is too busy to interview you. It doesn't mean you won't be admitted!  If you do score an interview, take it seriously. But rest assured that it will not make or break you.

Admissions officers will consider it when evaluating your application, although they'll be much more interested in your grades, test scores and essays.

Prepare specific questions.

Your interviewer will expect you to ask some questions about the school and talk about why you want to go there.

Think about why the school appeals to you, what you want to study and what you might do after graduation (you don't need a fifty-year plan). Challenge yourself to come up with creative questions; the answers to which cannot be easily found on the college's website. Bizarre or obvious questions will not impress the interviewer; thoughtful and specific inquiries will.

Practice like a prizefighter.

Being interviewed is a skill, and it requires practice. Sit down with one of your parents, a teacher or a friend and have him or her ask you questions. Answer them honestly and seriously. Then ask your "interviewer" how you came across.

The practice interview is a great way to become aware of little things you might not have known you were doing. Do you talk like a stuttering valley girl? If so, cut down on "ums" and "likes" and make sure to answer in complete sentences.

Be yourself.

Don't pretend to be someone you're not. Remember, the key to getting admitted (and being happy at college) is matchmaking. You want to be yourself so that the person interviewing you can discern if you would be a good fit.

But remember that you have many sides. Don't show up looking like you peeled yourself off the couch, brushed the crumbs off your belly and rolled on in. Showcase the side of yourself that is professional, mature and confident. Smile, use your sense of humor and remember your interviewer wants the interview to go well too! They'll feel comfortable if you are comfortable.

Schedule wisely.

You'll get better each time you interview. Try to arrange your schedule so that your first interviews are with the schools you care about least (or those most likely to accept you). You can even schedule interviews at schools in which you have no interest at all, just for the practice. You'll be much more comfortable with the process by the time you get to your top choice schools.

Stop looking at the clock.

Most interviews last approximately 30 minutes. Occasionally they'll run as long as an hour.

Students are sometimes told that the sign of a good interview is a long one. But most colleges schedule interviews back-to-back, so your interviewer is likely on a tight schedule. If you notice them checking the time, it's not (necessarily) because they think you're boring.

Be thankful.

Send a thank-you note. If there's something about the interview that was helpful to you, let your interviewer know. If you connected with your interviewer over a book, common experience, band you're both into, etc., then mention it!

Otherwise, simply express your continued interest in the school and thank your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you.

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