Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How to Help Your High School Seniors Prepare for their College Interviews

By Randi Lewis

The college application process is around the corner. It is a stressful time for students and their parents, in part because of the increasing competitive nature of the process. When we work with high school students to help them prepare for interviews, their parents often take an active role in the process. We go through "The ABC's of Interviewing" with our students and our parents so that our parents can take home what they have learned in our preparation sessions and help empower their children to be themselves and to do their best. Here are a few tips for parents to help your teenager navigate the interview process. We call them, “THE THREE P’s.” PREPARE ~ PRACTICE ~ PRAISE

PREPARE. Help your child prepare. Study the school’s website with your child. Help your child organize and write down:

  • Academic or career goals.
  • Interest in each school.
  • Accomplishments such as AP classes, honors, extra-curricular activities, unique interests.
  • Why each school would be a good fit, finding commonality between something about the school's values, culture, academic program, etc., and your child. (Examples: Yale's honor code is similar to the honor code in your child's school; UCLA's commitment to public service is important to your child because it offers opportunities to give back to the community like your child has done in high school; the small class learning environment of University of Maryland's Honors Program is of itnterest to your child because . . . .)

PRACTICE. Help your child practice. Strategizing while role playing works well for some students. Others prefer just talking. Play it by ear.

  • Start with a firm handshake and eye contact. Both are important in making a good impression.
  • Help your child practice talking about him/herself and his or her academic and career goals.
  • Help your child practice talking about his or her interest in that school, weaving in the commonalities between the school and your child's accomplishments, interests and goals.
  • Help your child devise three questions for the interviewer.
  • Practice answering and asking questions and talk about what to say at the end of each interview.

PRAISE. Praise your child’s efforts.

  • Understand your child is under tremendous pressure to continue high school studies and extracurricular activities while completing college applications.
  • Let your child know OFTEN how proud you are of how well he or she is juggling the demands of school, extracurricular activities, and the college application process.

A WORD ABOUT ATTIRE. Discuss how your child will dress for each interview. The dress may vary by school but here are a few things your child must keep in mind:

  1. Don't dress like a kid. No shorts. No tennis shoes. No short skirts or low cut blouses.
  2. Boys should wear a suit or khaki pants a white or blue shirt and a dark blazer.
  3. Girls should wear a knee length skirt with a jacket and a white shirt.
  4. Dressing up, even if you feel overdressed, is a sign of respect.
  5. No weird piercings. Remove the nose ring.
  6. Keep your hair well-groomed.

Trust the process. Randi

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