Can You Answer These 13 College Interview Questions?

Last Updated Feb 25, 2010 2:50 PM EST

When the admission director at Dickinson College was interviewing my daughter four years ago, he tossed her this zinger: What is the most creative thought you've ever had?
Caitlin blanked out, but she knew she needed to respond. She blurted out something like this: "I want to learn how to eat with chop sticks left handed because it will impress colleges."

Was that a crazy answer? Absolutely. The interviewer, however, was apparently so interested in my daughter's enthusiastic response and her endless supply of stories that her 30-minute interview lasted more than an hour. She ultimately ended up with a Dickinson acceptance letter.

I think what my daughter's experience illustrates is that college admission officers don't want teenagers to fail. They like 18-year-old's or they'd be working somewhere else. One of the chief aims of admission officers is to size up what kind of kid is sitting in their office and whether they'd be a great addition to their schools.

I was thinking about my daughter's interview this weekend when my son was visiting Beloit College for a scholarship interview. Ben and the other 130 or so high school seniors, who were invited to attend, were probably wondering what questions the scholarship committee members would ask.

Beloit's president, the student representatives and the admission officers tried to assure the scholarship candidates that they just needed to be themselves during the interview. I believed them, but I'm not sure if the students who hailed from such states as Oregon, Vermont, Texas, Missouri and Rhode Island did. My son was one of the skeptics and he wanted some practice questions.

After a Google search, I found a helpful list of interview questions from Emma Willard School in New York. Ben wasn't asked any of the questions on the list during the interview, but I did learn a lot about my son as we sat in our hotel room with the Olympics on mute, talking about such things as Ben's future aspirations and his views on the past four years in high school. It turned into one of those wonderful bonding experiences that any mom would cherish.

You can get the full list of college interview questions from Emma Willard's website, but here are 13 college interview questions that I particularly liked:
  1. What is the most important thing you've learned in high school?
  2. What do you expect to be doing ten years from now?
  3. How do you define "success?"
  4. What have you liked or disliked about your school? What would you change?
  5. How would you describe yourself to someone who did not know you?
  6. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  7. What has been your proudest achievement so far?
  8. If you could talk with any one living (or deceased) person, whom would it be and why?
  9. What events have been crucial in your life?
  10. What mark do you feel you've left on your school?
  11. What do you want to get out of your college experience?
  12. What about you is unique?
  13. What could you contribute to our college community?
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.

College interview image by xgray.

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