Strategies for students
Here are a few tips on interviewing:
1. Be yourself and try to relax.
2. Make sure you have good eye contact and body language and be friendly.
3. Most interviews are conversations. Answer questions honestly and with some detail. Remember, the admissions person is trying to get to know you.
4. Ask questions. You should read about the school before you go and ask questions about that school. You can even write them down and pull out a slip of paper. This will show the interviewer that you have thought about X school.
5. The interviewers are pros and usually very nice. They know what makes a 13 or 14 year old "tick." Don't try to impress them with unrealistic things. They want you to have a friendly experience at their school.
6. Use common sense when visiting. Dress in clothes that fit that school's dress code. Do not over-dress, but do not wear jeans and a t-shirt.
7. It is fine to LAUGH! Let your humor and good-will shine.
8. Enjoy yourself.
You should identify a list of schools by talking with Ms. Bowman, Mr. Burnstein, or Mrs. Walsh, your advisors, your parents, looking through guidebooks, searching the web and by attending the high school school fair in the early fall at Gordon School. Don’t assume you will automatically like the same schools that your friends like. There are many schools, large and small, independent and non-independent, day and boarding, religious and non-religious, rural and urban. See what appeals to you based on your experiences, interests and strengths. Do not be afraid to look at a school that no one else in your class may be interested in. This is an individual process and you should look wherever you and your parents decide.
Once you have a list, start calling the schools to request a complete admission package
Research the schools on the web
Start to make a list of questions about the school and its programs as well as a list of schools you want to learn more about
Begin to schedule visits and be sure to ask about each school’s admission process, because they may vary
Ask about financial aid and scholarship application process; request paper work, if you plan to apply for aid or for a particular scholarship
Find out if they have an Open House. When? Who is invited? Do you need to attend if you already scheduled an individual visit and tour?
If you are interested in public school, they probably will not have a view book, so be sure to ask people in your community about their experiences
What to wear? Be comfortable and look neat. It’s not a good idea to wear jeans, but nice slacks or skirts are common. When you visit, this is a time for an exchange of information. As important as it is for the interviewer to get information from you, you should feel comfortable getting information from them and your school tour guide. Having a prepared list of questions is a good thing, if you think you may forget. This will indicate prior thought to the admissions interviewer.
During the tour you will learn the basic layout of the school. Many independent and Catholic-affiliated high schools use students as guides, so this is a good time to learn about student life, homework, rules, extra-curricular activities and more. Do not be shy about asking questions. The more you ask, the more you will learn. For public schools you will most likely need to schedule an appointment with the school guidance counselor who will talk with you about the school. You should request a tour or find a friend from your town who would be willing to host you for the day. Most public schools will not have an interview process.
Interviews are conducted at most independent and Catholic-affiliated schools. Be sure to check if they are optional or required. During the interview, you will probably meet with an admission person separately from your parents. This is an important time for you to talk about yourself. For some of you this may be easy, while for others this may be harder. Remember the interviewer wants to know about you, and the only way they are going to find out is if you talk about yourself. Before the interview be sure to think about your interests in and outside of school. See attached “Interview Questions” to help get you started thinking. Remember each one of you has something to share. Admission people want to find out what makes you you! (For parents this is your time to talk about your child and to learn more about the process. Be sure to have your questions ready as well. Financial questions should also be asked, if you are wondering about payment, grants, loans, etc.)
Some schools may have you do an impromptu writing sample. Although there is no way to prepare for this, you may want to ask what they expect of you during the visit when you initially schedule the appointment. If you are asked for a writing sample, you can write by hand or, usually, request a computer. Schools will almost always give a prompt to write about.
After leaving the school, be sure to write down your thoughts, things you liked and disliked and things you may need to learn more about. See the enclosed sheet for you to process your thoughts! Do not wait to make these notes because if you visit two or three schools in one week and then on Friday try to write your notes, you may begin to mix the schools up. You want to have your thoughts fresh in your mind. We suggest that you write a short thank-you note to the person who interviewed you as a form of etiquette.
Some applications can be written on-line, some will require a handwritten application. Be sure to copy all application forms so you can practice and write a first draft. Once they are filled out, be sure to keep a copy of what you send to the schools. Be sure not to miss a deadline because this does not send a positive message. You may want to call the office to be sure everything has arrived in a timely fashion, so you do not worry.
You will want to keep track of everything. Use a calendar and input all necessary dates, open houses, tour & interview appointments, recommendation due dates, testing due dates, copy of the transcript due date, and more. Keep in mind SSAT scores (required by independent schools) can be sent directly to the schools you designate. SSAT website has the number to identify each independent school. Keep note of those numbers.
Recommendation forms for your teachers should have a due date noted for them. Gordon School transcripts will be sent by Gordon School so you do not need to worry. (Just be sure to give your list of schools and all recommendation forms to Kim Mongeon so she knows where to send what). Your current humanities, math, and science teachers automatically write recommendations for you, so you do not need to ask them. Students should ask their counselor in writing for additional recommendations during the first week of December, but absolutely before December 15. These might include music, art, coaches or teachers with whom you have a special bond. If possible, coaches of fall sports should be asked for recommendations before the season is completed. High School Placement counselors will remind the students, but parents should discuss additional recommendations. You are responsible for arranging any recommendations you want from people outside of Gordon. Each school is different, so make sure your bases are covered. Remember, schools only want the recommendations that they request. More recommendations do not enhance your chances of acceptance, unless there is a compelling reason for them. Your Gordon School High School Placement counselor can give you advice on this.
Your contacts at Gordon
Strategies for students
Local independent schools
Public high schools
Catholic-affiliated high schools
Boarding schools of interest
Open houses and admission events
Possible interview questions