Biggest mistakes: Part II

Again, stolen as a whole from the elist of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, so these were posted by either admissions officers or, in a few cases, high school guidance counsellors.  Some of the errors are funny, some are too incidental to matter, and a few are just depressing.  Let me know what you think!

Wearing a sweatshirt of competitive college A when you go to competitive college B’s admissions representative’s presentation.
Talking on a cellphone through most of the tour
Visit a class and stand out for the wrong reason:
Fall asleep, talk on cell phone, ask a ridiculous question
Entitlement thinking
One student thought that her boyfriend’s well-connected relatives would get her into film school in L.A.

Interviews/high school visits
Answering a cell phone in the interview
Having a parent come to a high school – during the school day – to sit in on a college rep visit.
Inappropriate clothing…they are not interviewing your navel nor do they want to know the color of your underwear
Showing up to the admissions office on a Saturday morning after visiting a frat party the night before, wearing the same shirt.
Showing up for an interview wearing a college t-shirt/sweatshirt/baseball hat/etc. from another institution.
Young ladies wearing skirts so short and/or tops so low cut that when they sit down during the interview, you don’t know where to look.
A student of mine once responded to an Ivy alumni interviewer who had asked him what his favorite book or movie was, with Half-Baked. (This is a movie about smoking marijuana.) When I asked him what he was thinking, he let me know he was, “Keeping it real.” He was denied.
When a student is asked about a special interest or undertaking, he or she mentions volunteering at the soup kitchen or storefront literacy center. Then, when asked to elaborate, the reply is, “Well, I really haven’t started yet. The program begins next week or I’ve only been once so far…”
When a student is asked, “What attracted you to this college?” (an almost inevitable interview query in one form or another) and replies, You have both majors I want … biology and English (or some other generic response that could point to pretty much Any College, USA).
Yawning, looking out the window, twirling hair, tapping feet never work in a students favor. Admittedly, some of these are behaviors that go along with being nervous, but students should be cautioned to try to maintain eye contact with the interviewer and attempt to appear engaged, not bored. I’ve advised students who find themselves REALLY nervous to say so outright at the start of the session. Anxiety can be the elephant in the room, and if the student says something like, “I
Didn’t expect to be nervous, but this is my first interview, and I can’t seem to keep my hands from shaking,” that can actually help to put him or her at ease … and to make the interviewer more comfortable, too.
When asked to describe a favorite in history, don’t tell the interviewer that you are fascinated with Hitler because he is a bad, bad man.
In interview: “I want to go to this school because of the prestigious journalism program,” at a school that has no such program.
Students chewing gum during an interview was always a pet peeve of mine.
An isolated case, I’m sure, but the boy who proceeded to chew off his fingernails and then spit them on the floor during our interview.


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