Help Your College-Bound Kid Develop This Skill ASAP

Now is the time to coach this very important habit!

“Fall Kickoff” means different things to different people. To some it’s all about football, while others think of new programs at church, or new shows on TV. To those prepping for college, Fall Kickoff means the start of college fairs, special classroom or assembly speakers, career fairs, and college reps visiting their school. (Parents, be sure to ask your high school counselor for a calendar!)

To get the most of these college prep activities, it is important for your college-bound kid to acquire the “The Interview Habit.” This habit helps a student get the information they need to make some informed decisions.

Now is the Time for This Habit

For a high school student planning for college, the present is always the right time to carry on the search. Learning about possible majors and careers and looking for a college where they can thrive is a great pursuit for those who realize they have a big part to play in the process. This fall is a good time to encourage our college shoppers to grow an “interview habit.”

The good news is, the “Interview Habit” we’re talking about is not much more difficult than the questions you might have learned to ask (like I did) in college. Do you remember asking, “What’s your hometown?,” “What’s your major?,” and other conversation-starters? I’m sure these rather cliche questions were asked as far back as ancient Greece in the school of Socrates… even if the answers I heard on campus were usually “Houston” and “Business” rather than “Athens” and “Philosophy.”

The point is that there are some easy, “classic” questions your student should get in the habit of asking now. They’ll have chances to ask these questions throughout their high school years.

College Fairs & College Reps

Curiosity will serve your college-bound kid well when college representatives come to town.

When college reps are standing at a table draped in their school colors, topped with brochures, maybe with some cool media showing the sights and sounds of their campus, they are there not only to be seen but also to see. Reps are looking for those curious, interested students that want information.

Kids need to know that college fairs – or rep visits to their high school – are prime times to ask questions.

Train your college shopper to ask great questions with these tips:

  • Wait your turn and listen to the other questions being asked.
  • Introduce yourself and tell them your grade in school.
  • If you are undecided about a major, tell them (you are not alone).
  • Don’t ask a question if you already know the answer. (My college rep buddies can spot the “Look how much I know already about your school” question a mile away.)
  • On the other hand, if you know nothing about the school, don’t play like you do.
  • Relax: the college reps are trying to help you, not “sell” you.
  • If the rep is wearing a name tag, call them by name, thanking them for their time when you leave.

Career Fairs, Guest Speakers, & Local Professionals

College Fairs are fun, but you and your child shouldn’t overlook the search for a potential career. Be on the lookout for career fairs, find out if career speakers are visiting the school, and urge your student to get in touch with local professionals in careers they’re considering.

Remember, your student isn’t simply pursuing college for college’s sake! The point of college is to thrive beyond college… including in a career. What’s more, if a student builds ideas about their potential career(s), that will obviously help them narrow the college search.

When your high schooler gets chances to visit with someone about their career, they once again need to rely on an “Interview Habit” they’ve built. The conversation starters I coach students to use run along the lines of “How did you prepare for what you do?” and “What colleges are good for your profession?” I tell my students that when people see you are interested and listen to their answers, you tend to get some very valuable information.

Just like an archer has arrows in his quiver, ready to shoot them when the time comes, here are five additional questions that your student can have ready for these situations:

  1. What do you like most about what you do?
  2. How did you get interested in your career?
  3. What did you have to take in school to prepare – or what do you wish you had taken?
  4. Where did you go to college? Graduate school?
  5. What advice do you have for a high schooler with that interest now?

Whether your student speaks with a professional at a career fair table, a special guest speaker in the classroom, or a professional in the community, students need to remember that those folks want to be asked questions. They want to share their passion for their career field.

Get your kid going on his or her Interview Habit now, and it will serve them well all the way through high school… or beyond, when they start asking their fellow college freshmen about majors and hometowns!


Photo Credit: COD Newsroom (Flickr), College Fair 56 cropped CC some rights reserved

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