Mastering The College Interview

The College Interview should be thought of as a conversation. A conversation is less intimidating and you want to feel comfortable and at ease.

The reason I like the word conversation is that you must be able to ask some delving questions during the interview showing that you have put some thought and intention into selecting this particular college.

The word conversation has the Latin prefix, con. Translated it means “with”, so to converse is to speak with another person. A good conversation is like a tennis match, moving back and forth. There is a rhythm; a give and take.

Thinking of your College Interview as a conversation should put you at ease and let your confidence level rise. Make sure to practice shaking hands and practice announcing your name with a smile.

Bill Gates says when a job candidate walks into his office, he can tell in the first 20seconds, if he is going to hire them. This is why you must show self confidence, smile, shake hands firmly and let the conversation begin.

The person who is conducting the interview will usually start out asking you some questions perhaps about your school and where you live. It is very important to give positive feedback at all times. Never say anything disparaging about your school or any teacher. Being an ambassador for your school will make you appear like a future ambassador for your college. For instance, if your school doesn’t offer AP courses, explain that this makes the curriculum more creative because the teacher can discuss pertinent current events and doesn’t have to hurry through the classes so you will score well on the AP exam.

Some questions you might like to ask are, “Is it possible to double major in Music and Mathematics (or your two primary interests)? I saw that there is a Musicology/Ethnomusicology major; this sounds amazing.” Or, “I know I will work hard on my studies at Emory; will there be enough time to get to know other people in clubs or intramural sports?” Try to avoid asking a question that could be found readily on their website.

Show that you have done your research. Explain that when you were on their website, you discovered a number of classes that made you wish you could start college right now. Mention the titles of these classes. One student who wants to be a veterinarian told his admissions interviewer that he thought the course, ANSC 2650 Equine Biology and Management made him want to attend Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The interviewer will also ask more specific questions such as, "What interests you about our college?" or “Do you have an academic goal or a plan to major in any particular subject?” If your interest is business you need to be sure that the college you are interviewing for offers business programs and classes. If they do not, then express an interest in the economics or finance major they do offer. For instance, be sure that you know that Boston University offers a major in Communications; and make sure you know that Tufts University does not offer that major.


One Admissions person always remembers a girl from Paris by the crisp blue and white sailor dress she wore for her interview.

Presenting yourself well is part of the College Interview. Do not dress too casually or too formally. Look squeaky clean and casual in school clothes. On campus you don't want to look over-dressed. Girls can wear a dress that is in fashion. Guys can wear khaki pants with a great tee shirt or sweater. Wear clean sneakers or new shoes that are appropriate and comfortable.

Campus Interviews are held in the college admissions office on campus. On some campuses, the interviewer may be a current student. Be careful to project the same persona to this young person as you would to an official college admissions person. You will most likely be more relaxed with this young person; but do not assume that you can speak and act too casually.

The purpose of the Campus Interview is for you to project the fact that you are aware that four years of college is about scholarship and discovering other intellectual pursuits.

At Brown University, in an admissions information session, the speaker said that when he walks around Brown’s campus he can feel the “buzz” from the students. ”These scholars are thinking!” He then said, “We’re looking for students with the “buzz.” The “buzz” means charisma, intensity, seriousness and diligent focus. Think of yourself as a scholar, one who wants to know more; one who is intellectually inquisitive and yet, one who can smile with enthusiasm and be animated and excited about this college.

Local Interviews are held in your local area where you will meet with one of the college’s alumni, usually at their office or a coffee shop in the late afternoon after your school day.

Remember to be relaxed, get into the conversation mode and ask questions. It is perfectly fine to ask the alumni interviewer if they attended this university. With an alumni interviewer, you can also ask, “What did you major in? Did you ever change majors? Did your major in college help you with the job you have now?

In both College Interview situations it is a good idea to bring a folder with your résumé. Your résumé can serve as an ice breaker with the other person. They may want to comment and ask you about your trip to Thailand or your work with Habitat for Humanity. Also, if you have a hobby such as a 3-D graphic artist, bring some of your images.

Ivy League Placement always prepares students for the College Interview by creating and enacting a Mock College Interview with them. I play the role of the interviewer and the student gets a chance to practice the interviewing techniques we have been working on. Standing up immediately when called into the office, smiling, making strong eye contact and offering a firm handshake as they say their name are some of the personal cues we develop until they become natural. Students of Ivy League Placement practice these courtesy introductions until they become automatic and comfortable.

Ivy League Placement Paired Up With The I Have A Dream Foundation For A College Application Boot Camp

For the second year in a row, Ivy League Placement paired up with the I Have A Dream Foundation for a 3 day college application Boot Camp where I was able to work closely with each student to help them create and write their college essays.

The workshop began with an overview of what makes a college application essay stand out. We started with a review of three excellent college essays to prove that an outstanding college essay does not have to be about a spectacular event. In the process, each student learned how to develop a compelling college essay in which you paint a picture of who you are, how you view yourself in the world, where your gratitude is focused, and how you have matured and are now ready for college.

As the students began writing their outlines and long drafts, I brainstormed with them to transform their ideas into a winning format. One girl who has a strong relationship with her mother wrote in paragraph four that her mother was “her garden”. This is a beautiful image, so I recommended she move it to become her opening sentence to paint a picture for the reader with
“My mother is my garden and I am her lovely flower.” This opening sentence was so powerful, the rest of the essay was easy for her to develop.

The students finished with strong compelling essays highlighting their academic strengths, extra curricular participation and volunteer work. At the end of the workshop, the students were confident and proud their essays now contained the elements to grab and keep the attention of the reader.

The I Have a Dream Foundation began in 1981. As New York City businessman Eugene Lang prepared to address a group of 61 graduating sixth graders at his alma mater, East Harlem Elementary, he was told that only 25% of the students sitting before him would graduate from high school. The figure was so alarming that he was moved to make an astonishing offer: He would pay the college tuition of each and every student who graduated from high school. More than 90% of these students earned their high school diplomas or GED certificates; and 60% pursued the higher education promised that day. Since then, almost 200 "I Have A Dream" programs have operated in 27 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, together serving over 15,000 Dreamers. "I Have A Dream" has also freely shared its model with other individuals, corporations, church and community groups, and government agencies to generate additional educational support programs that help many more children who lack a clear pathway to college. Ivy League Placement considers it an honor to contribute to this remarkable program.

Ivy League College Admissions Counselor, Lily Trayes, Works With Students In Tokyo

During a recent trip to Tokyo, I scheduled a meeting with the parents of 25 Tokyo high school students interested in Ivy League college admissions in the USA and to discuss what they should know about the Ivy League college application process.

It was a treat to be hosted in a luxurious private Tokyo home and to meet these wonderful women who are very much members of Tokyo’s elite.

I spoke for 30 minutes and then yielded to their questions. One mother admitted they had made a big mistake by taking their daughter to see a great number of colleges and universities when the girl was only in the ninth grade. She was disappointed that the trip accomplished nothing except turning the young student off to further suggestions from her parents. The mother now felt that relying on advice from a professional college admissions consultant appeared to be the most desirable course of action.

The mothers had the usual questions and concerns:
How important is using a private college counselor?
How will my child benefit and what results should we expect?
When should students start SAT tutoring?
How difficult is it to get into Ivy League universities?
How many colleges do most students apply to?
How do we know which colleges are the ones to apply to?

Following the meeting, the mothers were appreciative that I had set aside time for private consultations. Each 90 minute private consultation requires the attendance of the student and both parents so that all their questions and concerns can be answered and a game plan can be established.

Leaving Tokyo with several new families to help apply to USA colleges was very gratifying and I welcome them to my extended Ivy League Placement family of college students from all over the world. I look forward to seeing my Tokyo students again when they arrive in the USA to visit colleges and we begin our college counseling journey by attending prearranged college information sessions and tours.

Forbes College Rankings - Best Colleges In The USA

As an Ivy League College Counselor who has visited the TOP 25 Colleges and Universities, I am pleased to see the Forbes Magazine new ranking of colleges.

U.S News & World Report and Newsweek come out with rankings each year; however, Forbes is applying a never used before formula in their ranking system which is based on the quality of the education received and successful careers after graduation.

Parents spending over $50,000 per year at private institutions should be very interested in this new ranking system. Bravo to the Forbes Magazine.

Forbes College Rankings Background
2008 marked the first year that Forbes entered the college ranking fray. They choose to use a methodology that included the following percentages:
Listing of Alumni in the 2008 Who’s Who in America (25%)
Student evaluations of professors from (25%)
Four-year graduation rates (16 2/3%)
Enrollment-adjusted numbers of students and faculty receiving nationally Competitive awards (16 2/3%)
Average four year accumulated student debt of those borrowing money (16 2/3%)

Forbes did not break colleges down into different schools as U.S. News & World Report does, but instead choose to separate private and public colleges.

Complete College Rankings Methodology
Forbes inaugurated its first ranking of America’s Best Colleges in 2008. They based 25 percent of their rankings on seven million student evaluations of courses and instructors. Another 25 percent depended upon how many of the school’s alumni are listed among the notable people in Who’s Who in America. The other half of the ranking was based equally on three factors: the average amount of student debt at graduation held by those who borrowed; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes. CCAP ranked only the top 15 percent or so of all undergraduate institutions.
Top Private Colleges.

America's Best Colleges shows the top twenty-five private colleges compiled from the complete college rankings listed above. Each college slide reveals its overall rank, cost, class size, student to faculty ratio, SAT and ACT ranges, percentage of applicants admitted, application deadline and early admission dates. Cost includes tuition, room and board, books, fees and other expenses.

via Forbes Magazine America's Best Colleges

Forbes List Of Top 25 Colleges for 2011

Before forming Ivy League Placement, I was a Director of College Counseling in both California and New York City. Always tuned into how Colleges are ranked, The Forbes College Ranking list for 2011 was anticipated and of great interest. Usually the top school list started with Harvard, Yale and Princeton, while the list of universities and liberal arts colleges almost always began with Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore.

This year I find the Forbes List of the Best Colleges in the USA to be a refreshing change as it includes a different perspective and some of my favorite choices.

I have visited these Top 25 Colleges. All have their own unique characteristics. Among my favorites is the University of Chicago. My former students all know, if I had my life to live over again, I would attend the University of Chicago and I am pleased it made it into the Forbes List of Top 25 Colleges!

1 Williams College MA
2 Princeton University NJ
3 Amherst College MA
4 US Military Academy NY
6 Stanford University CA
7 Swarthmore College PA
8 Harvard University MA
9 Claremont McKenna College CA
10 Yale University CT
11 US Air Force Academy CO
12 Wellesley College MA
13 Columbia University NY
14 Haverford College PA
15 Wesleyan University CT
16 Whitman College WA
17 Pomona College CA
18 Northwestern University IL
19 California Institute of Technology
20 University of Chicago IL
21 Carleton College MN
22 Harvey Mudd College CA
23 Vassar College NY
24 Centre College KY
25 Rice University TX

via Forbes Magazine

How To Choose A College Roommate

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times
recently wrote an article about how some universities are allowing incoming freshmen to go online to find their future roommate. Students enter in the qualities and preferences they would like to see in their future roommate. This sounds very much like a for freshmen, and Ms. Dowd’s succinct headline is “Don’t Send In the Clones.”

Maureen Dowd goes on to describe her own college roommates and how different they were from each other noting that if you choose a mirror image of yourself for a roommate, it will cut down on creativity and social growth.

Stereotyping closes off many enlightening experiences. College is definitely a time for one to redefine oneself as a young adult instead of a high school student. Social growth will be found by getting to meet students with different ideas, backgrounds, and perspective. The last line of Maureen Down’s article is: “College is not only where you hit the books. It also should be where you learn not to judge a book by its cover.”

Be assured, you will find your kindred spirits in the new college community, so try to learn from those who are not just like your typical best friends.

via Maureen Dowd New York Times Don't Send In The Clones

Prepare For College In The Summer Months Before Senior Year

Are you a High School Senior who is looking forward to the summer before Senior Year to relax on the beach, hang out with friends or sleep all day? If so, you are missing out on a great opportunity to prepare yourself for college. This is the time to face and conquer the reality that lies ahead. In fact, everything that you used to do in the summer is probably not right for THIS summer.

First of all, you need to use these two months to show yourself – not your parents or the college admissions committees - that you are responsible, mature and ready to take on the rigors of college life.

If you start the summer before Senior year to think about yourself and how you participate in your life, you will be one giant step ahead of the game. Because you have taken the time to think things through, you will be able to project your image and personality in your personal essay for colleges, and you will know exactly why you want to attend each college you apply to.

Why now if you still have the Senior year to go before college? The answer is simple. It’s an exercise of the mind for you. You need to feel confident that you are strong and ready for the senior year and all that is going to be required of you.

From the start of the Senior year in high school you will be doing academic work that will be more difficult. The homework will be more demanding than ever before.

In addition, you must:
Get off to a great start in your classes.
Keep up with your sports and clubs in school.
Research colleges that may be a good fit for you.
Fill out the college applications.
Write the college essays.
Meet the college representatives who come to visit your school.
Consider the summer before Senior year as a time for college research. It's the time to hone in on which colleges you will apply to. It's the time to discover which Academic Program each college or university offers that really appeals to you.

What are the names of some of the classes offered in Economics? Are these different than the ones offered in Finance? Will you be joining any of the college organizations and clubs? What are they? Did you know that the Environmental Club at your favorite college is called The Greenies and at another university it is the known as the Earth Concern Club, and at UPenn the Penn Environmental Group is known around campus as the PEG? It helps your college application if you know specifics about each college. Do this kind of online research this summer before the busy school year begins so you will shine on your college applications.

Every day this summer do something to further your college application process. Take it seriously. Consider it a summer assignment or a job. Have a checklist for all the things that need to be done. Proudly check off one or two a week and stay committed to it for the summer. If you do, your summer will lead up to a Senior Year that will be much less stressful leaving time to enjoy your friends, activities and to celebrate your acceptance to the college of your choice!

How A Low College Freshman GPA Will Affect Your Academic and Career Future

Statistics show that college students earn their lowest grades in the Freshman year. It's important for you to know that those grades will be averaged into the final GPA before graduation from college, and the effect will be a GPA lower than the grades the student earned during years 2, 3, and 4. The final college GPA is critical in determining Graduate School acceptance and other future career opportunities.

Low Freshman Year GPA scores are usually caused by adjustment to the new environment:
Discovering a new campus and the surrounding areas
Associating with new and different personalities and maturity levels
Lots of “free” unstructured time resulting in poor time management
Adapting to college classes, procedures and expectations
Learning a “college language” that Freshman students are not “clued into”
Enormous academic competition from more aggressive students
Stress, worry. homesickness or loneliness
Peer pressure, money, status, friends, fraternity parties, etc.
Being one of the youngest members of campus community
Feeling “left out” and not knowing who to ask for advice

The Freshman year GPA will have a serious impact on your future. Controlling the outcome of the Freshman year GPA will put you on the road to success.

University life is a completely different world from the small nurturing environment that you experienced in high school. No one is there to wake you up, see that you study and do your laundry! Temptations abound, time slips away, academic expectations sneak up on students who have not been independent in high school, and professor’s expectations are completely different from the caring personal attention you received in high school.

Some students are now choosing to work with a “Personal Professor” before and during the first semester of college. In individual one-on-one meetings, your "Personal Professor" will prepare you for college life and teach you how to avoid the Freshman pitfalls.

I think working with a “Personal Professor” is an invaluable opportunity. Some students won’t need this, but your child may feel more secure going off to college, knowing that he or she has the advice and help of their own College Professor who is available to advise and recommend solutions whenever needed.

Please contact Lily Trayes for more information and a recommendation for securing a "Personal Professor".

The Facts

Stop Everything!
It's Your Child's Senior Year.

4 Very Important College Application Facts Every Parent Should Know.

To get accepted to the top colleges and universities, the application that your child sends out must represent a student who appeals to the admission staff at the particular college or university of your choice. These are the all-important people who decide if your child is a “good match” for their campus community.

Your child’s application will be one of thousands. Every detail about his application must distinguish it from the others.

Your child’s application must be impressive and show that your child is impressive as well.

Each application is reviewed very quickly; and will get only “one shot” to receive the coveted letter of "Congratulations."

If you are wondering if your child is a candidate for our program, take 'The Quiz' for parents now!

The Goal

The goal in working with Lily Trayes is to win a "Congratulations!" letter from the college of your dreams.

Lily Trayes, founder and director of Ivy League Placement, is an accomplished NYC Ivy League College Admissions Counselor who has helped hundreds of students create winning college applications.

As a highly successful college advisor since 1995, Lily has counseled students on both coasts and many international clients. The students that she takes under her wing continue to break all records with admissions to all of the eight Ivy League Universities each year.

Students come away from brainstorming sessions with Ms. Trayes, beaming with enthusiasm. She builds the self-confidence of each student and energizes them to recognize their talents and abilities. Thus each student learns how to translate these skills in a number of successful venues to the colleges.

By drawing the attention of the Admissions Departments to the important elements in the student’s application, Lily Trayes commands a high success ratio making the Goal of opening the coveted "Congratulations!" letter from the college of your choice a dream come true.