As we roll into holiday season, I’d like to suggest that you carefully craft your answers to the questions that will invariably be posed to you by long lost (and out of touch) relatives… and work to avoid the snippy answers that spring to mind (and are written below). Strive for the high road and mollify the relatives!
If you are a senior, you will not doubt be asked
So, what line of work do you want to go into?
Oh, I thought I’d become a ______ just like you!
What colleges interest you?
Those that do not permit me to travel all the way home for fun holiday get-togethers like this one.
Where are you in the application process?
Yikes! Are you saying that I should be thinking about this over the holidays? Gosh, I took the SAT’s and started the Common App! It’s only November.
What will you be majoring in?
How will you differentiate yourself from the crowd of applicants?
Dye my hair purple.
If you are a junior these questions may be posed
So, have you thought about college yet?
No, not one bit! I’ve forgotten all about those pesky standardized tests and have all winter and spring to chill before getting serious.
Do you plan on going where your mom/dad/grandmother/grandfather went?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I definitely want to do exactly the same work as s/he does/did.
I hear it’s harder and harder to get into colleges these days, so how are you going to make an impression?
See # 5 above.
I suggest that you stifle any impulse to use the quips above. My thinking is that having answers on the tip of your tongue will serve you well, so you might consider weaving these facts and ideas into your responses:
For many students, college is about discovering new interests and not focusing on a field of work too soon. What does going to college mean to you? There’s your answer!
Over 50% of students entering college do not know what major field of study they wish to pursue. Perhaps you’re just like them!
Colleges are looking for whole people-those who have consistently challenged themselves-both academically and extracurricularly. What makes you -> you? Have you taken increasingly difficult courses and done well? Are you a leader in school and/or in the community? Have you taken on significant projects, traveled, volunteered, worked? All these experiences make you unique and that is what you will convey in the application and during interviews.
A little forethought will go a long way in handing some of the vexing questions that arise on social occasions. Good luck!
It’s that time of year! The teens I’m coaching are visiting the colleges and universities that top their lists, in some cases for the second time… and they are stirred up! It’s so much fun to listen to their excitement, what they loved/liked/were less than enthused about – they talk about the…
- tour guide
- residence halls
- sports teams/events
So, here’s my thinking->Express Advice (getting to the heart of the matter FAST):
- Get a notebook/Create a file
- Choose the key elements to explore and write about for each campus-so you are comparing apples to apples
- Write down your thoughts about every school you visit-within hours of visiting, so your notes are fresh and full of detail
- Notes need to be general (what was the feel of the campus, would you be comfortable/can you see yourself there, what’s the weather like through the year, etc.)
- Notes need to be specific (what are the reputations of the departments that interest you, what did you learn about the professors/classes/students, are there enough/several great choices of majors/minors/study abroad, if you change your path?)
- What remaining questions do you have? Who can you contact with your questions, the admission office personnel, a professor, coach, student, alumni rep?
- Identify some “sounding boards,” people who will actively listen to your thinking about each of the schools, and offer their opinion only when asked. This is (in large part) your decision… no doubt your parents will weigh in with their thoughts, and that’s an opportunity to think and talk further… Remember, you are the one going to college, you need to feel the decisions are the right ones.
I won’t kid you -> Choosing where to apply to colleges is a big decision! If you’re applying Early Decision, no doubt you have a clear sense of what you want and are ready to pursue it (if not, don’t do ED). If you are choosing Early Action or regular decision… think with your head, feel with your heart, and choose the schools (likelies, possibles and reaches) that are a match for the who you are and who you want to become.
I’m finishing up coaching work with four high school seniors: They’ve developed their lists of “likelies, possibles, and reaches,” they have visited colleges, taken tours, done overnights, revised their lists, started the Common App. and the supplemental essays… They have a sense of what they want and yet there’s that last task gnawing at their confidence… Interviewing is foremost in their minds, and they’re nervous.
Interviewing is a skill, you can learn to do it well, I tell them.
An interview is a conversation: The interviewer wants to get to know you better, inform you about the college, and look for reasons to accept you; you need to share information about yourself easily, convey your knowledge about the college and be insightful about your fit with the college. It’s an opportunity to explore new ground, to move beyond the information conveyed in the application.
Preparation will carry you through, I tell them.
We’ve walked through the process: The teens know their strengths, needs, challenges, wants, and dreams. They have thought through answers to the questions that they might be asked, and developed questions they need and want to ask the interviewer.
Practice and learning from your experiences are the keys to getting more comfortable, I tell them.
I see it every time! We work our way through realplays, practice interviews that include the types of questions the students will be asked… and they get more confident, become better interviewees each time, because they are applying the feedback they receive each and every time. By the third realplay, the students are their pukka selves-genuine!
I hear and see them grow in front of my eyes – it’s fantastic!
You can do it too! Mindful practice is the key -> if you want help, shoot me an email!