Asking the Right Question at a School Interview

On Thursday evening, I asked my son Ben what he knew about Drew University.

“It’s got lots of squirrels,” he shot back.

When we visited Drew during a college tour last year we did notice the squirrels on the New Jersey campus that is nestled in a lovely forest. I wanted to be sure, however, that Ben remembered more pertinent points about the liberal arts college in New Jersey. In particular, I was curious to see what he recalled of the chat that he had with the physics chairman who was gracious enough to meet with him for more than a half hour.

I was grilling Ben because on Friday morning the Southern California rep for Drew was going to be visiting Ben’s high school. Since Ben is interested in Drew, he planned to meet with the rep. My son, however, thought his only role would be to passively sit in the conference room and hear what the rep had to say.

“Gosh Ben,” I said, “that sounds easy enough, but that’s not how it works.” I told him that he needed to arrive at the session with some good questions. Whether a high school student meets an admission rep at the campus, at his high school or at a hotel where reps often interview students who live far distances,  they need to be prepared. This might seem obvious to us parents, but it eludes many teenagers.

One way students can prepare is to spend time on a college’s website. Check out a school’s online admission office information and the relevant academic departments. After Ben spent time on Drew’s website, he was able to ask pertinent questions about such things as Drew’s scientific research program, summer internships, SAT policy and more.

Whatever schools your teenager is interested in, find out if a rep will be making a visit in your area. If a school isn’t visiting your teen’s high school, it might be making an appearance close by.

Reaching out to schools is important because as you’ll see if you click the link below, colleges are likely to favor teenagers who show a “demonstrated interest” in their institutions. And even more importantly, you can learn a lot of valuable background on whether a school will be a great academic fit.

Tomorrow, I will share a wonderful resource for students when they are compiling a list of meaningful questions to ask at a school interview.

Further reading:

Showing “Demonstrated Interest” in Colleges.

Acing a College Interview Part II

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an bestseller.

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