What do the U.S. Border Patrol & college have in common?

June 4, 2008

Cave Creek Arizona – J.D. the college guy was driving from Phoenix to San Diego for a college planning industry conference. It was a nice drive down Highway 8. A stack of music CDs and a fistful of highly caffeinated drinks.


Well I was surprised there were three, yes three US Border Patrol checkpoints. At the second checkpoint an eager officer was stopping all the traffic for inspection and questions.


I stopped, turned off my radio and rolled down the window. He looked at me and with authority told me “Let me see your citizenship papers.”


My response was “Umm-ahhh, I have ...an Arizona drivers license.” I had visions of Cops the TV show; me handcuffed and slammed into a patrol car.


I was wearing an Adidas t-shirt, Oakley sunglasses and a baseball cap. How much more American can I look? Now for those of you who never met me, I am a stereotypical person. I look like most business people with a conservative hairstyle and look. I was born in New York and grew up in Northern California. So the only accent I have is a California one, dude.


It turns out the Border Patrol Agent was a car buff like myself. He asked me a couple questions about the car and then said to have a nice day.


Now here’s my point. When you, the student are in the interview process you need to be ready for anything. Remember the Boy Scouts motto “Be Prepared!”


Here are the top most popular questions asked in a college admissions interview.

  1. Why do you want to go to (school name) or study (your major) at (school name)?
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Where do you see yourself in 10 (number) years from now?
  4. What do you think about President Bush (political figure) or war in Iraq (current event)?


There are reasons why they ask these questions. Now they may be worded differently but for the most part it is the basics of the question.


The first question is really to find out what the student can contribute to the school and if the student put any thought into which schools he/she is going to attend.


The second question, you need to have an answer for the “weakness” and be able to turn it into a positive. Such as, ‘my weakness is I am lazy. And knowing this I put in a lot of effort to accomplish my task early so that I can be lazy without worry that I need to finish my project.’


The third question, where do you see yourself in 5-10-15 years is to show the school that you have direction. Not exact, like I see myself in a house with a white picket fence, 2 kids, 2 cars, a boat, working at XYZ Company. They want to see that you have thought about where you might be in the future and that you have some kind of plan.


The fourth question is to see if you have an opinion and see if you are aware of the world around you. So if you are not familiar with who is running for political office or major current events; now is the time to get involved. Read the News Paper, watch the news and review the news websites.


My first point is “be prepared.” My second point is find common ground and interest with the person who is interviewing you. With the US Border Patrol Agent, we connected with a common interest, cars.


It is okay for you to ask questions in the interview. Most of the people interviewing will be alumni. So you can ask them, why did they go to that school? What did they like best about it? What was their most memorable experience in college? From this you may find a common interest or at least something that you can ask further questions.


When getting ready for college remember the motto: “Be prepared.”


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