Getting the Most out of your School Visit and Nailing the Interview Process
For students and parents exploring options for high school, the admission process can be exciting, overwhelming, stressful, and scary all at the same time. It feels like a big decision because it is a big decision. It is also a time to pause and reflect on the first two stages of education (elementary and middle) as you look forward and set goals for the next two (high school and college.) This three-part blog series aims to break down several parts of the application process to hopefully make it less overwhelming and more joyful.
Part 1: Getting the Most out of your School Visit and Nailing the Admission Interview
Once you have done your initial research on high school options and narrowed your list to the schools you’d like to explore further, the next step in most cases is visiting the campus. A visit to campus can look very different at each school, so it is important to contact the schools you are exploring to understand what you can expect from a visit. Here are some things to consider:
• Some schools may ask you to complete an inquiry form or even a preliminary application before your visit.
• Your visit will likely include a tour of the campus. Ask your tour guide lots of questions – they are a great resource!
• Your visit may include a class visit or shadow with a student.If you have a favorite subject, you can often request to visit that class. If you want to learn more about a particular program at the school, ask if you can meet the department head or coach of that program.
• Admission officers want you to be yourself during the visit so that they can get to know the real you. However, it’s good to be prepared to be the best version of yourself. While the real you may want to wear a t-shirt and sweatpants, you will likely want to wear something a bit more appropriate. Inquire with the school is there is a dress code or recommended attire.
Parent involvement in the visit can vary at each school. Be sure to ask what is the expectation of parents is before the visit so that you can plan accordingly.
At many schools, your school visit will also include the required admission interview. The interview is the one-on-one conversation the student has with an admission officer. It typically lasts anywhere from 20-40 minutes. It is important to keep several things in mind for the interview. Most importantly, know that the interviewer wants to truly get to know you better, understand what your interests are, learn about your strengths and areas for growth, as well as hear about your aspirations for high school.
• Be authentic. Answer honestly.
• Make eye contact with the admission officer in the interview.
• Be prepared to share about areas where you are strong as well as areas you have room to grow.
• Talk about your hobbies, passions, leadership roles. If you don’t have these yet, talk about what you are excited to explore in high school.
• Do your research on the school. Read through materials and the website in advance of the interview and, if you can, talk to people you know who have attended the school about their experience.
• Prepare 2-3 questions to ask the admission officer. What is important for you to know about your future school? Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
• Practice a good, firm handshake – and a smile. It’s a great way to end the interview.
In many cases, but not all, students aren’t the only ones being interviewed. Parents often have an opportunity to meet with the admission officer, as well. This is a time for parents to share their insight of their student with the school. Parents should be as transparent as possible in this meeting – sharing their student’s strengths and weaknesses, talking honestly about goals and expectations for high school, asking hard questions about school policies and programs, is really important.
The overall goal of the whole application process is to find the best fit school for the student. Finding the best fit school is only possible if both sides, the schools and the families, have as much information about each other as possible. During the visit and interview process, schools have the opportunity to show who they are beyond the glossy viewbooks and fancy websites. This is the time when the culture of the school can really shine. Likewise, students and parents get to show themselves beyond what’s in the paper application. The visit and interview portion of the application process is an integral part of fit assessment. It is also a really fun part of the process, so have fun and enjoy it!