High School Admissions Interview Guide

High School Admissions Interview Guide

The TA Guide to Nailing the High School Interview

With interviews fast-approaching for our students applying to 9th grade, we wanted to provide some wisdom we’ve collected from our counselor friends on how to ensure that your child aces the (very important!) student interview. Here’s our guide to the high school admissions interview.

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High school admissions officers are looking for the right fit for their schools, and they want students who are genuinely interested in attending. They are likely to ask about the reasons behind your children’s applications, and they should be ready to respond to specific offerings/educational philosophies/resources the particular school offers. Prospective students should do their research: attend open houses, talk to current students, and spend time looking at the course catalog and website.

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We are often amazed at how articulate our students are about themselves as learners, but our consultations are casual and low-pressure--students sometimes struggle to pinpoint what they need and want when they are nervous. Lots of kids do well with writing down a few key qualities they are particularly proud of (and maybe a couple of things they’d like to develop) ahead of interviews to make sure they don’t forget those things that are most important to them, as individuals.

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This is really the job of the parents! Of course those in admissions want parents who are respectful of the school’s rules and teachers, but they also want to see that the parent or parents’ understanding of the child aligns with that of the child’s. You are all parents, and it’s normal to be proud and excited to share the things you love most about your kid, but take time to listen to how your child feels before meeting with the school so that you are on the same page as a family.

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We understand that our kids sometimes really don’t like certain teachers or “hate” the cafeteria food, but an interview is an opportunity to present a positive, reflective self. That means focusing on solutions where there were problems, framing things in a positive way, and being careful about what you decide to share. If your child had negative experiences in middle school, practice talking about them in a way that doesn’t alarm admissions officers (who are looking for kids who will be happy, healthy members of their community).

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Schools often ask students about their friends and family, so most kids benefit from some guidance on what kinds of anecdotes to share. They should steer clear from anything embarrassing or too personal and focus on family travels, traditions, and values, as well as basic structures (siblings/parents who are divorced/other family members involved in raising the child).

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By knowing the school and themselves, kids position themselves to discuss more fluently how they fit into a school’s community and what they hope to pursue in high school. There may be new activities or skills children want to pursue, and that’s welcome! Students should certainly be prepared to talk through the past few years while thinking about what’s next.

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Although we focus on preparing your child for academic and standardized testing success, we care about the big picture too. Need more advice on the high school interview? We know great counselors in the field who specialize in just this kind of thing and we would be happy to connect you.

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