Everyday conversations: The college interview [audio]

A college admissions officer interviews a prospective student. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

One student (Ajay) asks another student (Lucía) about tips for students on college interviews.

Ajay: I can’t believe this, but now one of my cousins is applying to college in the U.S. Actually, most of his application is completed, and he’s starting to set up interviews with a few colleges.

Lucía: That’s awesome! By the time the semester is over, all of us will have family members coming here to study.

Ajay: That would be really funny. Did you have a college interview before you were accepted here? I didn’t, and I’d like to give my cousin some interview tips.

Lucía: I did. I know some people find them nerve-wracking, but I didn’t. I practiced a lot beforehand though.

Ajay: So my cousin should role-play the interview scenario with someone else?

Lucía: It definitely helps. Also, before the interview, your cousin should know a lot about the college and be prepared to ask a couple of questions about the college.

Ajay: That’s good advice. He’s pretty curious, so I’m sure he’ll have no trouble coming up with some good questions.

Lucía: Oh, and don’t forget that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. He should dress appropriately.

Ajay: Right. I’ll let him know not to dress like a slob.

Lucía: Most importantly, tell him to be himself during the interview. He shouldn’t just give answers that he thinks the interviewer wants to hear.

Ajay: Thanks, Lucía. This is really helpful.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

Interview tips are useful information about interviewing given from one person to another.

The adjective nerve-wracking means causing a person to feel very worried and nervous.

To role-play is to pretend to be in a particular situation (or pretending to be a different person), especially as part of learning a skill.

A scenario is a description of a possible future event or actions.

In this context, pretty is used as an adverb meaning “very.”

To come up with means to find or produce.

To dress appropriately means to wear clothes that are suitable and appropriate for the occasion — in this case, a college interview.

To dress like a slob is to wear clothes that look untidy, messy and/or dirty.

To be oneself is similar to being genuine. To be genuine means to be sincere and honest.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.