The Process of Getting In: Steps 6-10

The continuation of The Process of Getting In (for dancers): Steps 1-5 

As the last chills of winter nip at our nose we open our eyes to a full and exciting New Year. The time has come to place the harvest of the holidays behind us and welcome in the laundry list of resolutions, reforms, and responsibilities. With your applications signed, sealed, and sent off, as a high school senior you are set to embark on your final semester of high school. However, before this chapter of your life comes to a close it would be best to tie up any loose ends you have left astray. By following these final five steps you will welcome in a stress free spring forward and before you know it will be moving that tassel to the other side.

Step 6: The Interview  
While there are simply not enough recruiters, admissions officers, and alumni to grant every applicant an interview, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. You never know who or where you might meet someone that can be the key ingredient to furthering your future. To begin, let us start with dress: Coco Chanel once wrote, “I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little- If only out of pointlessness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” So ladies, and gentlemen, as cliche as it may sound always dress for success. As tempting as it may be to go to school in sport shorts and your bed t-shirt the world is full of spontaneity and serendipity and you never know if opportunity is right around the corner. Now, while the tips in step 6 may seem commonplace, it isn’t a bad idea to treat everyday like an interview. In our day and age, where success is a hard thing to secure, simple graces can go a long way. If you are lucky enough to secure a scheduled interview with your college of choice, the following will surely apply.

Part A: Attire. As stated above, dress for success. Unlike the spontaneous situation previously mentioned, if you know that a college interview is on your agenda for the day, prepare yourself in every way you can. For the ladies a cute, but classy, dress is never a bad idea. Make sure it is an appropriate length and always bring a jacket or cardigan to drape over your shoulders. Wear sensible shoes and make sure your hair is neat and in place. For the gentlemen, the same applies. It is true what they say about first impressions, and a properly groomed guy is a rarity today. Comb your hair, and wear a collared shirt. Regardless of the weather, shorts are not acceptable leg wear. While a three piece suit might be over top, one can never go wrong with trousers to slacks. A pair of jeans can be deemed acceptable so long as they are dark wash and properly tailored. While it is important to stay true to who you are, stepping outside of your comfort zone might be just what you need to make a lasting impression. Whatever you wear, keep in mind that you’re still young. Have fun with colours and prints, just do your best to keep it classy and professional.

Part B: Questions. Although some recruiters will have a set list of questions to ask you, most of the time the college interview is a chance for you as an applicant to ask any remaining questions you may have about the school. Interviewers accept your interview as an additional supplement to your application. It is a way for them to get to know you off paper, and in person, so being eloquent and educated is important. Having a list of specific questions for the interviewer will surely leave a lasting impression. On the days before the interview, spend some time reviewing the school’s website. Research the details of the programs that interest you. While some general questions are okay, it is important that your questions can not be easily found on their website. By asking broad, yet tactile questions like: “What are some internship opportunities available to students in {your specific major}?” “Would I as a {major} be able to study abroad? What programs do you recommend?” or “Tell me about some of the clubs and organizations open to freshman.” By asking simple questions like this, you show that you are informed but also interested in furthering your knowledge of their program. As a dancer, another good question to ask is whether it is possible for you to double major and/ or minor in an additional program of interest. While many schools allow it, the dance program in some schools can be so rigorous that there just isn’t enough time. Whenever the interviewer is speaking, be attentive and interested. Don’t interrupt, and be sure to make an acceptable amount of eye contact.

Part C: Necessities. Along with your well put together outfit, it is always sensible to pack a sac that can save your day. Having a notebook and pen is very helpful. Jot down key points and answers to your questions as the interview goes on. This will show the interviewer that you are organized. However, be mindful of your notes, doodling mindlessly will leave an impression that is a dud. Have a bottle of water and a few mints to freshen your breath. You will be talking a lot during the interview so it is more than acceptable to take a sip during the process, just be sure to drink daintily. Have an ICE pack of kleenex in your bag, some lipgloss or chapstick, and a small mirror. Before you go in, freshen your breath, smooth out your lips, and check your teeth for any technicalities. Prior to entering the room, make sure your phone is silenced- out of sight, out of mind. In the case that you have a very sick elder in the hospital, or your sister is about to give birth, discretely inform your interviewer of the situation and put your phone on vibrate. However, even in this rare circumstance, your phone should not be visible, place it in your bag and don’t let it distract you.

Part D: Thank You, Come Again. Whether your interview was a rousing success or an epic failure a sincere thank you can go a long way. Of course it is common sense to thank your interviewer at the end of your interview, but sending a note post questioning is sure to leave a lasting impression. Every aspiring lady, and gentleman, should always have a stack of stylish but sensible notecards on hand. Snail mail is a dying art form, so even if you think your interview sent your acceptance astray a hand written thank you note can very quickly move your “maybe” into the “future students” pile. Etiquette is easy, it is just up to you to decide whether your time will allow it.

Step 7: Financial Aid and Scholarship
The students of today have so many pressures put on them. Unlike our parents and grandparents, our goal is not only to get into college, but to get into the right college. And, even after applications have been sent, reviewed, and accepted celebration is still far into the future. Because a college education is almost a mandatory component for future success, the competition to get into the “right school” is high, and with the rise in competition comes a skyrocketing price tag. Each school is different, but the process is virtually the same. Many schools in the United States accept FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but deadlines differ. Check on each school’s website, or speak with an admissions officer to find out the exact details of their financial aid package. Prior to applying it is important to figure out whether your school is need based, merit based, or simply rewards scholarships. Once you have come to understand the institutions financial situation, you can begin searching for outside funds. Nowadays, people can get a scholarship for virtually anything. If you’re short, or tall, blonde or brunette, there will always be someone offering you a financial incentive. There is no harm in applying. So, as tedious as the process may be, fill out those applications and you can only be rewarded.

Step 8: Straying Away from Senioritis 
As spring semester comes rolling in, many seniors are subject to senioritis. Symptoms and side effects include:

skipping class
stopping work
sleeping in
showing up in sweats

If this is you on a regular day, then congratulations on even making it to senior year. However, if you see any of these symptoms arising and they are not apart of your daily routine, take a look at yourself in the mirror and remember that no one makes it to the finish line by stopping dead in their tracks. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking you’ve already made it to the other side. School still matters. Stay focused and attentive in all your classes, study for exams, and properly complete your projects. After all, although high school might be coming to an end, in just a few months you’ll be entering the courtyards of college and your workload will do anything but dwindle. Take advantage of your last few months of schooling security, and pay your respects to the teachers who helped you get to where you are going next. Savor all that you can, and graduate with a gold star.

Step 9: Waiting It Out
The only thing more daunting than applying to college is waiting to get accepted. When the New Year rings in and you’ve completed your applications, the only thing left to do is wait. So, as horrible as these first few months of the year may seem, trust in the fact that you have done all that you can. As previously mentioned, stay abreast of the goings on at school, but also take some time for family, friends, and yourself. Unless you’ve applied early decision, there is really no point in refreshing your inbox every five seconds during the final days of winter. Rather then balling yourself up in the corner and pulling your hair out, get up, get dressed, and go out. These last few months could very well become your most cherished memories, so embrace them. As hard as it may be, once acceptance season begins do your best to maintain a modicum of composure. Congratulate friends that have found out, your time will come too. Be delicate to those who are disappointed, but don’t allow yourself to settle in their slump. If you happen to be with the first batch of acceptances, gloat with grace. There is no reason to hide the good news, but also keep in mind that many of your peers are still anxiously awaiting the news.

Step 10: Celebrate
Once acceptances start coming your way, the clouds will clear and you will welcome in the next chapter of your life. The only thing left to do is decide. Wether the choice is clear, or you are still feeling out a few, take solace in the knowledge that the choice is ultimately yours. After the pro and con lists have been delineated, a decision has been made, and a down payment paid, it is finally time to pull up a seat, relax your feet, and celebrate. Whether you’re going to the college of your dreams, or taking an alternative route, you’ve made it through high school and the rest of your life is right in front of you. Let go and dance your heart out at prom, throw up your cap at graduation, and savor every moment you can by making each second a blissful memory.

So, there you have it. As your high school career comes to a close, so do the steps of getting into college. The best knowledge you can take with you from high school might not be the pythagorean theorem or the literary elements of literature, but the lessons of life and etiquette. A few more tips to take with you include:

Guide With Grace. Truly successful people not only are good at what they do, but also do good with what they have.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Life is full of pressures and obstacles that might get you down. However, by taking a step outside and remembering where it is you want to end up will always help to get your head back in the game.

Stay True to Who You Are. No matter where life’s path may lead you, or what journey’s you might embark on in the future, remember that you can always come home. High School seems to be the place you love to hate, but will quickly turn into the place you miss the most (or at least that’s what Paramount Pictures has led us to believe). Stay true to who you are, and you will be invincible.

I would also like to give a final shout out to my Graduating Class of 2013! We’re almost there! Embrace these last few months because we have nothing but bright lights and crazy adventures ahead of us. And now, as we turn our tassel to the other side we look onto the class of 2014… follow these steps, and you’re bound for success. Here is to all of us!

*This article has been published in the Dance Council of North Texas Magazine, Feb-Apr 2013.