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Bring questions of your own to college interview

Gerald Bradshaw

Gerald Bradshaw

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Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

I have submitted all of my college applications and have been contacted by several schools about schedule interviews. I am nervous about these meetings and want to be prepared. Any advice?

Signed, Student

Dear Student,

Being nervous is normal. The person conducting your interview will want to find out things about you that are not included in your application and your essays. Turn the tables on the interviewer. You should make a list of questions you want answers to and you need to interview the interviewer.

This is your opportunity to get “inside” information that you will never find on a Website or on student forums.

As a Harvard alumnus who conducted interviews for my alma mater, I recall speaking with a prospective student who asked me if I was ever lonely at Harvard. That question just blew me away — she had disarmed me and we had a great conversation about “fitting in” to an academic environment.

I thought to myself, what a great interviewee this young woman is. I gave her a top recommendation and she was accepted.

Don’t be afraid to get personal. Ask the interviewer what he or she studied in college, whether he or she would do it all over again, and how his or her major-study concentration helped with a career.

These are perfectly fair questions but many students do not ask them. Your job marketability following graduation is of prime importance in this day and age and you need to know what a school’s track record is in preparing graduates for the work world.

The interviewer isn’t likely to talk about himself or herself unless you give the opportunity. If you ask the questions, it takes some of the tension out of the interview for you. I once had a student ask me if there was a subject I wished I had concentrated on more as an undergraduate. I knew the answer — physics.

As I answered her question I was taken back to my student days at Berkeley, which at that time had the number-one physics department in the country. I was a political science major but had to take the bonehead physics class for non-majors in order to fulfill my science requirement.

If I hadn’t taken physics I would have not met one the most brilliant persons I will ever know — Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman. He was a visiting professor from Caltech and he gave a four-day seminar on the Theory of Relativity.

I was so enthusiastic talking to my interviewee about Dr. Feynman, that I nearly forgot all about the interview as I drifted off into the magical world a great academic experience can offer — a life-altering experience.

The point is to be prepared by having some very good questions to ask. The interview is not all about them getting to know you — you are qualifying them as well. Do not be afraid to ask personal questions as long as they are about academia.

I was all questions when I interviewed for college and I got excellent inside information from the admissions representatives I met with.



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