Useful Tips

How to Go to College: The Complete Guide (Part 3)


An interview with the staff of the selection committee of a US university provides an excellent opportunity for an applicant to demonstrate how interested he is in studying in this particular institution. The success of this stage can largely determine the likelihood of enrollment in a university, as well as vice versa.

Although communication with the admissions committee can go wrong for many reasons, the key is still the unpreparedness of the future student for this stage. Therefore, we have collected 5 basic questions, the answers to which will largely allow you to communicate with the selection committee without any special difficulties.

1. “Can you tell me a little about yourself?”

The question may turn out to be deceptively simple. Of course, you should not list all the events in life, starting from the moment of birth and getting into kindergarten, but you should not give monosyllabic answers in the spirit of “I studied well at school” or “I am a good guy / girl”, etc.

To stand out, in a good sense of the word, you can tell some funny story from the life of an applicant, for example, “I broke the school’s long jump record” or “I collect stickers from every country I visit”, etc.

Such phrases will translate further dialogue into a warmer and friendlier form and may even outline some common topics for conversation.

2. “Why were you interested in our college?”

The answer to this question should clearly demonstrate the interest of the applicant in entering the chosen university. To exhaustively answer it, you can focus on a couple of key aspects that make the university attractive to the applicant. For example, this may be an interest in any of the scientific programs that is only in this university, or love for a certain subject in which this university is especially strong, etc.

3. "What exactly would you like to study?"

Again, you should study the issue in advance and familiarize yourself with the main curriculum of the university. The entrant is not obliged to know exactly what specialty he wants to choose, but it is worth having an idea of ​​what departments and scientific departments are in this college.

If the applicant has already decided on his specialty, then it will be useful to tell the admissions committee about the reasons for this choice. If you have doubts about which curricula to mention in a conversation, you should think about which of the interests of the applicant is best combined with certain curricula of the university. This will help determine the future specialization. The only thing you definitely shouldn’t talk about is potential income after graduation, as the main motivation for studying in the chosen specialty. It is better to talk about your passion and interest in the subject.

4. “What are you able to give to our student community?”

Here, the applicant needs to think about their strengths. Is it creative inclinations, friendliness or a sense of humor? Or maybe leadership qualities? We need to focus on this. It is good if there are practical examples in the life of the entrant that can illustrate these qualities. You can also name examples of how they can be used for the benefit of the campus.

For example, a future student can talk about creative inclinations and offer his participation in the art club at college, contributing to the development of art among students. You can even hope to see the works of the applicant in the college art gallery.

5. “What do you see yourself in 10 years?”

Although it is not at all necessary to know, a demonstration of what an applicant thinks about his future can be beneficial. If you have ideas about the future career of an applicant, you can say about them, but if there is no clear idea, you can focus on current interests.

As mentioned earlier, in this matter it is not worth focusing on the material benefits that the education promises. A good step will be to describe your future in 10 years through the prism of your specialty, for example, "I see myself as a family doctor, using my knowledge to work in my hometown, because I want to devote myself to ensuring people's health."

Pay attention to visits from college and school fairs

If you are going to complete your part of the transaction and work very hard to prepare an outstanding package of documents for college, then you probably should know exactly what the possibilities of your university are.

University representatives are likely to visit your school building, recruiting students and generating interest in their institutions, while informing you about them. Often such meetings take place during lunch, so you don’t even have to sacrifice your precious time: just eat and listen to the presentation!

University fairs are just a large group of college representatives gathered for convenience in one place and at one time. Wander between the stands and collect informational brochures! Representatives will be able to answer your deepest questions, and perhaps you will even be able to meet with several current college students.

One warning: at fairs and during visits by school representatives, you usually only hear about the “good” sides. This is more a marketing move than informing. Never lose your head and remember that this is basically an advertisement for their college.

Advertising works both ways! Try to make the best impression - there is a good chance that a representative of the university will write down the names of outstanding students.

Finally, there are many more effective ways to gather information about a school than attending college fairs or listening to school representatives. But you can also discover a new school that you have never heard of before. Therefore, it is very important to be everywhere and collect all available information. Just do not forget to consider the source of this data and the potential personal motives of the speakers.

Clean up college listings, entry documents, and deadlines

FINE! Before creating a giant list of universities of interest to you, think about creating a structured spreadsheet, folder or document to streamline all your research. The list of educational institutions, your personal assessment of each school on a 5-point scale, the cost of training, “pros and cons”, deadlines for submitting documents - all this information can be in your large spreadsheet with colleges.

Such a general list will allow your family to maintain order and confidence that everything happens on time! Plus, the hours spent researching and organizing are guaranteed to help you more clearly see the details regarding the schools you want to attend.

Make the right list of universities

One of the main steps to entering a university is deciding where you would like to go!

It is best to start by carefully reflecting on what you expect from college. Think about the atmosphere, the size of the school, the majors, the cost of training and the distance from home. What amenities do you need to be happy? What are the decisive unfavorable factors that turn a particular university into a place where you will never go?

Having developed several ideas regarding your needs, create a “long list” of educational institutions - let go of your imagination. Do not think "they will never take me there." Just write a large list, including all interesting schools that meet your requirements.

After that, it will be easier for you to introduce more specific criteria and reduce it to a “short list” of 5-10 colleges to which you will submit documents. Make sure you have a good mix of “reliable” and “rich” schools. In other words, the selected universities should have elements of both safety and risk.

Questions for an interview at a university

You should not frantically learn the material, since the examiner is unlikely to seriously check your knowledge. Admission interview questions are not entrance exams, tests, etc. First of all, they are intended to understand what kind of student you can become and whether you really need this place more than your opponent.

In advance, you should prepare answers to standard questions that help give at least some assessment to the future student.

What questions are asked at the interview at admission:

  • Why did you choose this particular university (you can get acquainted with the history of the university in advance and for yourself determine its advantages and benefits in advance)
  • Why you decided to enter this specialty (come up with a good, impressive answer to this question).
  • Do you know something about the history of our university.
  • How do you imagine your profession.
  • Do you have achievements in studying in the field of this profession (you can take a portfolio of your awards, etc.).
  • What traits of your character will help you achieve your goal.

Interview in a technical school, university - general rules

  1. Pick up semi-formal style clothes.
  2. When you enter the office, be sure to politely greet the admissions committee and introduce yourself.
  3. Sit back - do not occupy uncomfortable positions, so as not to fidget later, as the interview can take more than 20 minutes.
  4. Listen carefully to the questions and answer clearly and moderately short.
  5. Keep calm - a little nervousness will be accepted by the commission as the norm, but hysteria will make you think that you will not be a stress-resistant student who is unlikely to get to the end.
  6. Speak confidently, since now your task is to convince the members of the commission that it is you who deserve a place in their educational institution, and you have not the slightest doubt about it.
  7. Thank the commission for your time after the end of the interview.

If you are sure that you have chosen the right profession for yourself, and also try to stay confident and calm - you will not succeed!

Think about what you want to study (what are your major disciplines)

There is an amazing truth about choosing a college: even when studying in the same institution, you can have very different qualifications depending on what your core subjects are!

For example, imagine studying English literature at a school famous for its bioengineering program. But getting knowledge of the same English literature at the magnificent Liberal Arts college is likely to give you a completely different experience.

Although most colleges offer students a wide range of specializations, this does not mean that all study programs are the same. It is natural that in every educational institution there are strong and weak faculties. Therefore, you want to study in a magnificent college, where the faculty responsible for your chosen field of knowledge is strong in order to maximize your own investments.

Another issue is the size of the faculty in college. You should understand that in fact you will spend about 80% of the time inside your faculty, not a university. This is a natural consequence of specialization in your chosen field of knowledge (your profile).

Moreover, if Morehaven College is known, say, for its chemistry program, it also means that after graduation, a specialist chemist from Morehaven is likely to receive more job offers and acquire a stronger network of bonds in the near-chemical fields. In general, reputation is important, and not only for educational institutions, but also for their faculties.

I will explain my thought. Hearing that someone graduated from Harvard Business School, you know: you can expect that this person is smart and capable, because HBS is famous for providing first-class education in the business field.

Facebook and Google are massively recruiting students from MIT and Carnegie Mellon's computer departments because these particular faculties have become legends thanks to the release of incredibly powerful programmers.

So, after creating a “long list” of universities, I strongly recommend that you conduct an additional study of the specific specializations that interest you and cut the list a little more based on your discoveries.

Make special efforts to demonstrate your personal interest in each institution.

Colleges, especially small ones, love it when you express a personal interest in them during the entry process. In addition, it gives you a chance to learn more about the culture of the school directly from communicating with its representatives.

So go ahead - personally call the top 10 of your schools and tell them about your interest! Call yourself, ask some reasonable questions, and see if you can do something to increase your chances of admission.

Here you need not to overdo it, you don’t want to seem annoying or take too much time from college workers. The goal is to get into visibility, tell them your name and learn more about the school. This moment may turn out to be successful in clarifying options for obtaining financial assistance.

If you really want to go to college, I highly recommend that you call the schools on your list and tell their staff how you like them. It definitely won’t hurt!

Fill out introductory papers and essays

When the time comes for paperwork and essays, time becomes the most important component.

There is no point in rushing with statements or essays. I guarantee that you will not enter leading schools if you were in a hurry or engaged in procrastination in the process.

Be prepared for the fact that each document will have to spend at least 4-5 hours, but honestly, you should reserve at least 10 hours. Use this time to create and verify your application, maybe you should even print a few copies of the text and use the first two as draft versions.

Clearly understand: statements and essays are a huge job. You will have to choose which job to submit - mediocre or fantastic. After all, it takes less effort and time to do average work. You should refrain from a strong desire to evade your duties. Invest 110% of the work in all the applications sent to colleges, or you just waste your time and money.

It’s best to start work on applications and essays a few months ahead of schedule. In this case, faced with burnout, you can take a timeout and find a few additional points of view. Do not forget: reasonable students leave time for themselves to search for various scholarships and alternative sources of financial assistance and apply for such payments in order to minimize loan debt after a 4-year (or longer) higher education.

Finally, do not forget to ask the opinion of several third-party “editors” about your documents. The first step is parents and consultants, but if your family is able to hire a professional editor, this service can be worth the money.

Do not stop there: additional questions and materials

There are two types of students who are encouraged by “complementary” or “optional” essays and short-answer questions in entrance exams at the university.

Those who say: “YES! I will have to spend less effort than I thought! Something to skip! ”

AND.Those who say: “CLASS! "I can go beyond the standard requirements of a competitive exam, because they are all too lazy to write essays of their choice!”

Tell me, which of these two students do you think will be accepted into more colleges?

Do not fade too soon

Now about the reverse side of all "stronger and higher" in entrance exams. You may be exhausted and lose focus too soon. This will lead to the fact that during the execution of the last 10-20% of applications, you lower the standards. After all, you, frankly, are already tired of filling out all these documents!

I fully understand this feeling (and this, perhaps, is a great moment to participate in college coaching and get to know opinions from the outside). I ran into burnout and overload while studying in high school!

It is best to take care of yourself and completely prevent burnout. Even in the bustle of entrance exams, be sure to eat properly, sleep enough hours and leave yourself some time to rest.

But if you REALLY burned out, you should do everything possible to take a “vacation” or to provide yourself with at least some respite. Do not forget to encourage yourself by giving you a feeling of happiness, each time, making serious progress in admission to the university.

This is a long-term project, the culmination of several years of study and hard work. Therefore, take it as a marathon, not as a sprint. If you want to go to college, then you need to control yourself and remain calm and confident throughout the process - as much as possible.

Check your profiles on social networks

Today, it seems, almost everyone uses social networks. Through various actions - from creating your own profile to posting your pictures and statuses, expressing approval of friends' posts or distributing content from artists and musicians - social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and even Google+ and LinkedIn give us the opportunity to express ourselves in new and unique ways. The problem is that sometimes we are not guided by common sense by clicking on “share” or “like” under the post. And at times, our foresight can be seen by people like teachers or college admissions officers.

Before applying to the desired educational institutions, you should “google” about yourself and carefully examine what an outsider could find out by looking for information about you on the Internet.

Carefully work with the privacy settings of Facebook and make sure that you are not using social networks for nonsense. Create a profile that you could proudly show to a member of the admissions committee.

Visit college campuses in person

If you intend to spend at least 4 years and, most likely, tens of thousands of dollars for the chosen university, then you should probably first personally check it and make sure that you really like it!

Visits to college campuses are a time-honored tradition, although it may not be easy for you to find time and money for such trips.

Therefore, you need to carefully choose which educational institution you go to, and schedule as soon as possible. Once on the campus, you will want to take advantage of all the possibilities: chat with students, visit the faculty and inspect the equipment.

Sit in class, invite a student for lunch, take a campus tour. Evaluate food, check bedrooms, go to the gym, pool, botanical garden or concert hall - personally see everything that excites you while visiting the campus!

Think strategically: maybe you should visit 2 “rich schools”, 2 “reliable universities”, as well as 2 most preferred colleges. Of course, if you do not have such an opportunity, everything is available for calculation. Just do more research using methods such as talking to former graduates living in your city, or exploring more detailed information on the Internet.

If you cannot go to the campus in person, do a deeper study and be sure to look for positive and negative points. Find online forums or other sources with honest, impartial comments from students at the school.

College Admission Interviews

Interviews are for many students the most frightening part of the entire process of entering a university.

And I can understand why! First of all, most high school students have no experience with such situations, while college officials have great mastery of face-to-face conversations.

Further, most of the power is - and this seems to be undoubtedly - on the side of universities, which can lead to the formation of an emotional situation, more reminiscent of "interrogation" rather than "interviewing".

To make matters worse, the feeling “this is my only chance!” Often arises. The thought of a complete failure of the interview, destroying all your hard work and breaking your hopes for admission - well, she would make anyone tenser!

But don't worry! Will you believe me if I say that all the difficulties of an interview is just your invention?

Honestly, the power belongs to the student. You have the brains, personality, talents and versatile “coolness” that any college wants to have. They need you as much as you need them! Let your inexperience work for you. Be open, honest, sincere and even charming, mentioning your lack of ability to participate in interviews. To smile and say that you are a little worried is normal. Get rid of some of the stress at the very beginning, and then dive freely into the stream of dialogue.

Perhaps it main trick: take the interview as a conversation, not as a contest. You will calm down, relax, and maybe even realize that you are laughing and enjoying yourself. Recession will allow your charisma to come to the fore.

Advice from a professional: Do some practice interviews with your family, friends, mentors, or counselor prior to this test. Playing an introductory conversation on roles can be a surprisingly fun and effective way to dispel the “fear of the public” inherent in this exam. Plus, you will be more prepared and impeccable, which will increase your chances of admission.

Be a good person with the right goals.

Hey, this is true. The easiest way to handle an interview and admission process is to be a good person with the right goals.

having some thoughts about who you are and why you chose this path,

taking responsibility for previous decisions and future efforts,

preservation of pride in past achievements and excitement from upcoming trials,

knowledge of your long-term life goals, and possession of some ideas regarding the steps that you take to achieve them (even if they are not yet completely clear to you).

What if you have no goals? Well, to be honest, you should fill that gap quickly! Moreover, why are you going to spend so much time, money and energy on your higher education?

The energy and positive that arise with becoming a good, kind, hard working person with clear goals and a plan for achieving them is, in fact, all you need to enter better colleges and universities in the world, if your grades can become the basis for this.

Receive Notification of Admission and Decide

Now that you have combined the fantastic experience of high school with excellent grades, leadership positions, promising classes, social activities and excellent test results, colleges will struggle to include you in their ranks!

Now you are actually the student that the leading universities want to accept, so do not be surprised to enter 2, 3, 4 or even more colleges. Let's tell the truth, they would all be happy to take possession of you!

When making the final decision, consider all possible points of view, from financial assistance to academic rigor and everything that is between them (the quality of cafeterias, gym equipment, music rooms - everything that matters to you the most).

You did everything right when you entered college, and no matter what decision you, an assiduous, purposeful and independent student, make, it will be right. Trust your heart and mind.

Do not forget about scholarships, student loans and other financial assistance

Although tuition is a topic for a separate article, it would be a mistake not to think about where your finances will come from as early as possible.

Will you qualify for a merit scholarship? Federal grants? Borrow money from a family?

Are you going to take advantage of the university’s study and work program? Or take student loans?

Naturally, you are likely to pay college money from all the sources listed above, as well as from others. Probably the main ideas in paying for tuition are as follows: plan and constantly look for and apply for an increasing number of scholarships and grants!

Successfully complete your first course.

“He lost his scholarship because he fell in love and failed a mathematical analysis at the spring session!”

“She and her friends were caught stealing a bracelet, and Harvard canceled her admission!”

Some students think it's just an urban legend. Others have a healthy fear surrounding similar stories.

The truth is that you really can LOSE what you have achieved if you do not finish the first course with success. In other words, if your grades fall, or if you make the wrong decision, you may find that you have been ruthlessly expelled.

Worst of all, when this happens at the end of the first year. How will you tidy up your plans now? Most colleges will already have an admission deadline, so you may have to lose a whole year or apply to alternative universities, starting from the beginning.

Therefore, as you see, it’s better to just avoid danger, wade through “tender” feelings and remain an amazing student and a person who went to college at the beginning of the school year.

Translation by Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of MBA Consult