‘Being Yourself’ During College Admissions Interviews

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you know I have an extreme distaste for platitudes, misinformation, and things taken out of context. At the top of that list is everyone’s favorite piece of advice for doing anything: Be yourself. It’s frustrating for me to even acknowledge that some folks still say this because, on it’s own, it means absolutely NOTHING. I mean, of course you’re going to be yourself! Who else can you possibly be?! But seeing how it is that time of year when most of us are getting ready to go on our college interviews, I thought I might expound on this topic a little so that we might walk into the lion’s den feeling a little more prepared.

That’s not to say that these interviews should be a scary thing. It’s actually a wonderful opportunity for the university to get to know folks on a 3D level, so we should begin by reframing this part of the process as a chance to enhance our candidacy. However, in an attempt to ‘be yourself’, DO NOT go into the interview unprepared. If you’ve made it this far, then you should have a very clear idea as to why you’re applying to this particular program and what it means to you. Brush up on that information and marry that with the ideas that you have about yourself. Don’t limit this to academics. Do research on campus life and any other aspect of the university that you may pique your interest. Can you see yourself becoming a resident assistant in the dorms? Does intramural softball have a place in your list of things to do on the weekends? Would putting on a production of Hamlet really interest you? No detail is too big or small to research and potentially discuss with your interviewer. These folks want to know how you will fit in with their diverse student bodies, if at all.

Once you’ve done the legwork, all you need to do now is show up and talk about the things you’ve thought about above. Because you’ve already visualized yourself at this school, you will come off sounding very genuine, enthusiastic, and self-assured during the interview. And that, boys and girls, is how we ‘be ourselves’. It’s not a magic trick or some unattainable standard. It’s knowing what you want and how you plan on leaving your mark once you get it. In this case, that’s a spot at a wonderful university. Happy reading!

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