Learning About 'Me'
As my Editor's column for my school's newspaper, I discussed the benefits of college interviews in terms of learning more about myself than the actual school. I copied it below:
"College interviews are the best. And no, not because they can potentially unlock those magic doors for the next four years of my educational experience. College interviews are the best because they teach me more about myself than any interview for a professional position, babysitting job, or internship. I learn more about what I like and do not like, personally, than what I like and do not like about that particular school.
At this point in the year, I have had five official college interviews, three of which were for the same university. I am an expert at answering “Tell me about yourself in 2 sentences” and have mastered my response to “Where can you see yourself in 10 years.” To the earlier, I throw in some extracurricular activities and my accomplishments and my personality. To the latter, I respond with my goals in the context of that interviewer’s school. I have perfected the art of sitting on my hands so that I do not succumb to the Italian trait of “using excessive wrist movements while talking.” I focus – focus on my tone, my knowledge of the university, my timing, my eye contact, my inflections, my smile. It is mechanical, like clockwork. The same questions with the same answers yet better each time.
Just when I think I have the interview and my answers all figured out, I am asked questions about my personality and my life that I never took the time to understand. In my most recent interview, I was asked to explain my favorite movie and why. My immediate thought was to say The Notebook because, I mean, what high school senior girl doesn’t love that movie? I took a couple of seconds to pause and truly reflect on my answer. With a deep breath and a sigh, I replied “Silver Linings Playbook.”
I did not really know why I chose that movie until I began to talk more and more about it with the interviewer. He told me that he had just seen the movie, and then asked me why I enjoyed it. “Well,” I paused, gathering my thoughts, “It’s just not traditional.”
The idea of traditional is what plagues so many students into mundane college interviews. So often a student is consumed with the idea that answers need to be perfect and need to fit the mold. The responses need to be perfectly said and just plain traditional. What makes the idea interview, however, are the questions and answers that stray from traditional and are exciting, inviting, and welcoming.
I realize it is a stretch to say that Silver Linings Playbook is not traditional. At the time I answered, however, I discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed. The movie is not a traditional love story – it follows two mentally unstable people who are not looking for love from the beginning. In fact, neither of them are ready for it – they just want someone that can support them. In a world where we are quick to jump to people that give us what we want, whether it is money or support or compliments or other things, the characters in the movie just want company.
Subconsciously, I must feel the same about myself. The company of others is what drives my creativity and motivation. Traditionally, I might have said that I prefer introversion and self-knowledge. With that simple assessment of movie choice, I now say that I favor exciting people that challenge me to learn more and do good for the world.
Plus, it is just a whole lot more fun when you can have a 15 minute conversation about Heart of Darkness or The Lego Movie with your college interviewer, as I have had. College interviews teach me to be professional, yes, and articulate, also yes, but they also teach me that I have a lot more to learn about myself than I do about any school out there that is waiting for me."