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College Interview Tips for High School Seniors

For any high school senior wondering how to impress in their next college interview

A college interview provides the opportunity for a school to get to know you as an applicant beyond what has been included in an application. Interviewers are typically alumni of the college and want to get to know you as a person, rather than learn about the specifics of your academic performances that have already been detailed in your application.

While students have gotten into their dream schools without interviews, when it comes down to deciding between just a handful of students who are so much alike in their applications, why wouldn't an admissions counselor refer to interview reviews and comments to help make the decision?  The best bet is to see the interview is an opportunity for both the school and the applicant to gauge the fit between the two.

In preparing for your interview, it is important to reflect over your cumulative experience and personal growth. It is important to research the means by which you plan to achieve your goals, and it is imperative that you exude the kind of confidence that only comes from mastery.

1. Put together an interview preparation book that will allow you to jot down ideas, etc. You can use this to brainstorm and review. Many times putting pen to paper is just what you need to start thinking about the most compelling reasons why you're a perfect fit for your intended school. Begin preparing for your interview at least 2 weeks ahead.

2. Review your application and determine precisely that best things of your personality and character that are left out of the application. This is the best starting point, because the point of an interview is to allow a school to get to know you better.

3. Reflect over your life. Reflect over how you've grown in high school, how your extracurricular activities have helped you build character, and the larger lessons you have learned. The lessons that you can extract from your high school experience will aid you in college life. Also think about turning points in your life and how you've matured and the extent to which school has prepared you for the real world.

4.Be able to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, but think about the positives surrounding your weaknesses as well. Know your victories as well as your challenges. Be able to relate these experiences to how you will face challenges in college.

5.Research the interviewer if you can: their company, what the school was like when they attended, etc. Even if you do not broach the topic of their personal lives (which you probably will not), this will give you a feeling of commonality with the interview. That is important in desconstructing the notion that they are stone-faced interviewers.

6. Have a few good stories to tell to demonstrate any lessons learned while in high school. For example, a football team captain may discuss the losing streaks that his team endured and what it took to overcome. Stories demonstrating hope and triumph help the interviewer understand that you would be able to endure college life. This may help you talk about an instance of weakness and how it was turned into a strength.

7. Avoid long-winded answers in the first part of the interview. There is such a thing as talking too much.

8. Go through a mock interview with a teacher or guidance counselor. This will help you deal with unexpected questions, etc.

9. Research the school(s). Know exactly why you want to attend West Georgia or Harvard, and be specific. Think about the school size, demographics, special programs, majors, resources, even professors that will be helpful in reaching your goals. Think about your personal beliefs and how your target school aligns with them. Visit the school website and jot down 4 or more specific clubs or activities that  you would be interested in participating in. Know the school, because the interviewer certainly will!

10. Have something visual to share. If you organized a dance group while in high school, pull it up on youtube and show it to the interviewer.

11. Be yourself. You can never do anything more authentic, more original, than be the person you were made to be. To be anything else is to be something less.

12. Research most common types of college interview questions. Tier 1 schools typically delve more into the abstract line of questions. You are more likely to get a question like "Which is more important, reason or passion?" It is important to have already put substantial thought into the most common types of interview questions.

13.  Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer about the school.

14. While the format is question and answer, be open to the idea that an interview is a conversation and exchange for you and the interviewer.

15. Be able to summarize your life philosophy or outlook in a sentence or two. Even if you do not need to talk about this in your interview, it is helpful in finding your core purpose/paradigm and will serve as a foundation for  your conversation.

16. Remember the things that make you unique and the people that influence you most.

17. Know the location of your interview and directions days ahead. Allot substantial time to arrive at your and to get comfortable with your surroundings. You do not want to be stressed out because you had to rush. This will distract you from doing your best.

18. If ever nervous, simply breath and take your time. It is ok to take a moment to think about a question before answering. Remember, the interviewers are interested in getting to know who you are; They are not their to grill you. Mock interviews will help eliminate some of these nerves.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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