Colleges look for students who will be a good match for their school. Your interviewer wants to see a genuine interest in the college. "There's always going to be a question 'Why do you want to come to our school?' so you really have to know the school," says Bev Taylor, an independent college counselor and director of the Ivy Coach. Spend time before the interview thinking about why that college would be a good match for you. "It's important to talk about yourself. Students need to do their homework before an interview. Find out what it is about themselves that can make them happy at that college," Taylor says.
Schools want to hear about educational goals. However, it's even better if your child can connect these goals back to that specific school. For example, your child could discuss how he/she want to join a competitive math team and how he/she is extremely impressed with the school's current team.
"That's going to come up at the end, guaranteed. Too often students will say, 'I think you've answered them all. That's probably the worst answer you can give. You need to have some questions," Taylor says. Asking your interviewer questions shows them that you've spent time thinking about their school. It's okay to bring a list of questions you wrote beforehand.
Ask the right sorts of questions. Don't ask something that can easily be found on the school's Web site. Show you've done some research. Ask questions that relate to your interests, not just general questions. You also don't want to ask a question that will put their school in a negative light. Instead of asking a yes or no question like, "Are research opportunities available to freshmen?" ask a more open-ended question like, "How can a freshman get involved in research?"
This is a very open-ended question, but you can easily help your child hone in on public figures they may find remarkable. Your child can mention famous historical icons, teachers, or leading innovators, and discuss why these people inspire him/her.
Admissions committees like this question so that they can assess how motivated the student is to attend their school. The applicant should know something about the school and which academic classes, sports, or extracurricular activities he or she might participate in at the school. It's compelling if the student has visited classes at the school or spoken to coaches or teachers to speak in a first-hand, vivid way about why he or she wants to attend the school. Canned, clichéd answers such as, "Your school has a great reputation" or cynical answers like, "My dad said I would get into a really good college if I went here" don't hold much water with admissions committees.
This is probably the most common question, and your child must be able to discuss specific classes, after-school programs, or sports teams he/she wishes to join. Consider this response as an example to guide your child: "Your school stands out from all the rest because here, I know I can develop my love for science. I am particularly interested in your great laboratory. Can you tell me more about how I can use this facility?"
I am the type of teacher who shares with my peers the classroom experiences that I have had, whether good or bad. I do this because I believe that this the best way for me and other teachers to improve our teaching. In this way, I get to share with them the best of my skills and, in return, they share with me the best of their skills. I also find that this is a very good way to learn how to handle situations that are difficult or unusual. The feeling of not being alone, but being part of a team of teachers, is what I can bring to the school. This will help build morale and a great working environment.
Schools are looking for passion. They want to know if your child can start something and persevere long enough to master it. Let your child know not to discuss video games or TV shows, but instead, to discuss something educational like reading, leading a school committee/newspaper, science experiments, etc. These are more impressive answers to give, but don't have your child feign these interests if they are not authentic. Other notable topics could be musical instruments, sports, building model planes, etc. Regardless of what they choose to talk about, your child must show passion in their answer.
If you interview in the United States, school administrators love to talk about state, local, or national standards! Reassure your interviewer that everything you do ties into standards. Be sure the lesson plans in your portfolio have the state standards typed right on them. When they ask about them, pull out your lesson and show them the close ties between your teaching and the standards.
In today's world of engaging video games and the Internet, many students don't read that many books. However, they should develop the habit of reading and have read three or so age-appropriate books that they can speak about thoughtfully in the interview. While it's acceptable to speak about books students have read in school, they should also have read some books outside of class.
While many students devour a steady diet of fantasy, the admissions committees often prefer students to speak about classic fiction, high-grade novels, and difficult non-fiction books. Here is a list of books to inspire you. Students should develop an idea of why these books interest them. For example, are they about a compelling topic? Do they have an interesting protagonist? Do they explain more about a fascinating event in history? Are they written in an engaging and suspenseful way? Applicants can think about how they might answer this question in advance.