Acing a College Interview, Part II

Yesterday I promised to share a great resource to help your teenager during a college interview.

Before I share it, I want to stress that there aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers in a college interview.

My own daughter, who is now a college junior, certainly experienced this during an interview at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. The admission dean asked Caitlin this question: “What is the most creative thought you’ve ever had?”

Caitlin’s couldn’t think of a single response (and how many people could?), but she knew she shouldn’t punt on the answer. So she blurted out a story about chopsticks. She told the dean that she wanted to learn how to use chop sticks with her left hand because she thought this would impress colleges.

Talk about a strange answer. The dean, however, seemed intrigued by my gregarious daughter’s enthusiasm for eating Kung Pao chicken left-handed and he continued to ask her questions 35 minutes longer than the interview was scheduled. She eventually won a scholarship to the school.

Of course, the point of a college interview isn’t just to impress an admission officer, but to find out if a school is a great academic fit. And that’s why I would urge your teenager to download a copy of “A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College.”

The National Survey of Student Engagement created the guide to help students ask thoughtful questions about a school’s academics, its student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and much more. Here are just a few of the questions:

  • How much writing is expected?
  • How much reading is expected?
  • How often do students discuss ideas in class?
  • How often do students make class presentations?
  • Are faculty accessible and supportive?
  • Is a culminating senior year experience required?

If teenagers ask these kinds of questions during an interview, they will not only impress admission officers, but they will learn more than they ever would otherwise during their college search.

Further Reading:

Asking the Right Question At a School Interview

Finding the Best Colleges

Six Questions to Ask a State University


Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution
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