With college applications hovering over me like a storm cloud of suspense, it’s probably a good idea for me to get a head start on preparing myself. In fact, my very first college interview is this week (hardly a head start), so I decided to get some practice thinking about common interview questions before I stumble around and give those cliché answers that only high school students can come up with. (Um…I’m a good student. I’m responsible. I promise.) I tried to leave out the boring academic stuff and answer the questions that will really let you get to know about me. So without further ado, I give you my typed-up answers to some college interview questions:
Tell me about yourself. (By the way, I hate this question. It’s vague, boring and thought-provoking in all the wrong ways. And yet you’re sure that this will always be the first question in any interview.) I’m a rising senior who’s on the International Baccalaureate diploma program. I’m active in choir, volunteer work, and French Club, and my passions are literature, music, and history. But aside from the basics, I’m the kind of perfectionist who craves creativity. Sometimes, school doesn’t really promote that sort of spontaneous inspiration- it’s focused more on memorization and standardization- but I try my best to infuse all my school projects and assignments with a little originality. I hate boring. I always need an outlet for my ideas.
Who in your life has most influenced you? Of course, my parents have bestowed upon me their own cultures and beliefs and lessons that they’ve learned from life. They’re the ones who’ve really encouraged me to pursue my passions and cared about my education. However, there is one girl who’s really inspired me ever since she was mentioned in my eighth grade English class. Her name was Rachel Joy Scott and she was a victim of the 1999 Columbine High shooting, but what made her special was not her death but her life. She wrote an essay shortly before her death about the importance of random acts of kindness and how she had this theory that if one person did one nice thing for another, it would set off a chain reaction of kindness. People described her as an inspiration and told stories of how she would talk to kids eating alone in the lunchroom or go out of her way to show compassion for others. She also traced her hands in her journal and wrote “These hands will one day touch millions of hearts,” in the middle of them. It’s extremely sad that she died, but I’ve always wanted to be the one to carry on her powerful legacy. I wrote a speech in tenth grade about kindness that was inspired by her, and I dream of touching millions of hearts, the way she did. Even though I never knew her, it’s almost like she’s always been a sort of guidance. Rachel left the world with an amazing message which I’ve come to adopt as my philosophy in life.
What fictional character would you most want to be like? Eponine or Frodo Baggins. While they both face miseries and difficult situations, they’re both brave enough to sacrifice for the things they love. Eponine sacrifices her life to fight with Marius and leads Marius to Cosette, even though she knows her heart will break if he ends up with another girl. To me, that was always the definition of true love- sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of another’s. Frodo is an underdog, someone nobody expects to be a hero, but who ends up sacrificing his life and the comfort of his home to protect the Shire and all of Middle Earth. He is courageous enough to bear the burden of carrying the ring and taking it to Mordor even though he doesn’t actually have to. He has this incredible sense of duty that’s both touching and inspiring.
What do you do for fun in your free time? (What free time?) I love to read. I read the news online, or look through a Smithsonian magazine, or just read a book. I also love music and singing. Sometimes I’ll just meditate with my favorite songs on, or I’ll belt some karaoke. My taste in books and music span across all genres. I love creative writing- I have about a bazillion story ideas that I still haven’t finished, and I’ve kept a journal since I was in kindergarten, which has been very rewarding to look back on those memories and general silliness. Finally, I try to exercise every day even though I’m no athlete. Sometimes I’ll go play tennis with my dad or I’ll go to the gym and walks some laps or use the machines.
Recommend a good book to me. In IB, we have to write an extended essay on any topic we choose, and I chose my personal favorite classic, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It tells the story of a girl, Francie Nolan, growing up in the poor tenements districts of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1900s. It goes through her struggles and it really delves deep into her mind and you can see her world from her perspective. Because where others would see dirty, bitter people suffering through brutal conditions, Francie views her world with innocence and imagination, and she sees the underlying magic and stories of her neighborhood. At the same time, I love how multi-dimensional and developed the characters are, because you can really picture in your mind what sort of people they are. All of them are deeply flawed but also virtuous in their own ways, and the book reveals this truth that people can be cruel and kind at the same time. By crafting real, raw emotions and revealing human nature, Betty Smith delves into topics ranging from ethnic prejudice to family relationships, all through the eyes of a growing Brooklyn child. It’s the difficult situations and conflicted characters that move the story along and really bring it to life.
What do you do best? I’m best at what I’m passionate about. I love writing, singing, and learning things that interest me. While I’m not astounding, I really put my energy into writing well and singing well. I also am good at certain subjects at school because I’m interested in learning them. The second semester of IB US History was my favorite, full of intricate foreign issues and history relevant to today’s world, so I studied hard and received good grades. This past year of English, we read so many interesting, thought-provoking books, so I did well in that class as well.
Who do you most admire? Audrey Hepburn. She’s a classic image of a strong woman. Not only is she incredibly talented and iconic, she’s classy, intelligent, and generous. She’s one of the only twelve people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Oscar. At the same time, she’s a humanitarian who’s been an ambassador for UNICEF. She’s truly a powerful inspiration not only for aspiring actresses, but also for any girl who’s ever dreamed of growing up to be a princess.
What is your biggest weakness? I’m not fearless or spontaneous. Sometimes I hesitate way too much before I’m willing to try something, and I end up regretting it later. I’ve gotten a lot better since I was young- I used to be extremely shy and afraid to try anything, from raising my hand in class to meeting new people. Now, I’m much more willing to jump in, but I still need to work on fighting my fears and allowing myself to seek out new experiences. Hopefully, college will help with that.
What three adjectives describe you? Open-minded. Driven. Balanced. I’m open-minded to new ideas and perspectives all the time. Whenever I read about something in the news or just hear about disputes at school, I always want to find out everyone’s opinions and angles on the issue. Coming from a multicultural background, I genuinely appreciate embracing other people’s views. I’m also driven to succeed. Passion for learning and helping others and discovering who I really am fuel my desire to achieve my goals. When I set my mind to something I truly want, I never give up, because sometimes the end result is worth the sacrifice. Balance is something I’ve had a ton of practice working on thanks to IB program and my extracurriculars. Even though I feel stressed sometimes, I never feel burned out or so frustrated that I can’t handle my life. A lot of it has to do with time management, and the other part is self-motivation and this belief in yourself that you will succeed.
How do you define success? Leading a life that makes you proud and giving something back to the world selflessly.