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Allen Grove

"If you could go back, what would you do differently in high school?" - College Interview Tips

By November 10, 2013

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Your college interviewer is going to want you to talk about your high school experiences. One way to get this type of conversation rolling is to ask you what you would do differently in high school if you could go back in time. It's a question that asks you to be reflective and introspective. It can also be an uncomfortable question because it is asking you to critique yourself -- did you miss an opportunity, make a bad decision, or fail to put in enough effort?

At its heart, the question is asking you to talk about your regrets. You'll want to be careful when answering. You don't want to draw attention to something you did that was foolish, irresponsible or illegal, nor do you want to introduce an overly negative tone into your interview. But you also don't want to be evasive in your answer. These interview tips can help you think about a strong response to a question that focuses on regrets.

More Tips for Common Interview Questions:


July 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm
(1) Paul Hemphill says:

Hi Allen,

What’s wrong with the student interviewing the college? Is there a downside? College interviews are standard fare ay many colleges, perceived perhaps as a rhetorical firing squad by the student. Not comfortable.

If the student started the conversation on a positive note that suggested that they liked what they saw on the college’s website, but was under a lot of pressure to select from so many, why not have the student ask some great questions to make the admissions officer think, “Holy cow, Batman, this is the kind of student we’re looking for!”

Something I have my student do all the time, and they always call on their cell phones to tell me, “It works!”

Just a thought.

July 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm
(2) collegeapps says:

Paul–Absolutely! The interview is a great time to get one’s questions answered, and all students should enter the interview with a lot of school-specific questions at the ready. 99% of interviews I’ve heard about are pleasant two-way conversations. Then there are those few where the interviewer has a clear agenda and wants to be in total control of the conversation…

July 30, 2011 at 7:40 am
(3) Paul Hemphill says:

Allen: The “total control person” is either whacked, or is the agenda a marketing opportunity for the school? In other words, the admission guy has a “prospect” in front of him, wants to make a “sale,” and is going for the “close.” Is this how you see it? Or, am I oversimplifying a bit?

July 30, 2011 at 8:26 am
(4) collegeapps says:

I think at some of your more selective colleges the interviewer can take on the role of gatekeeper, not marketer (I certainly ran into one such person back when I was interviewing). So instead of coming to the table with the attitude of “let me tell you about our great school,” the interviewer is asking, “tell me why you would be a good choice for our great school.” I’d argue that even when the student is the one doing the question asking, the interviewer is still evaluating how good of a match the student is for the school.

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