How can having a theme song help ace the college interview?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

How can having a theme song help ace the college interview?

Catherine McCarthy
College Smart Advising

Having a Theme is Great...

but you need some substance, too. Remember to make the points you want to make about what matters to you and what experiences and expectations you can bring to a college. If a theme song helps you stay focused on that message, then great. But, great interviews frequently go "off script" and you need to be prepared to discuss other topics in a thoughtful and genuine way.

Patty Gibbs
Vice President for Student Affiars & Dean of Students Wesleyan College

Theme song

A theme song focused on things that pertain to you, can help you stay focused during your interview. Remember the person interviewing wants to get to know you as a person and as a student.

Sterling Peterson

Music answers the question

A college wants to interview you to find out if you will fit the college. They want to know that you will bring diversity to their campus. Knowing who you really are will help you answer questions and respond so the college interviewers get to know the real you. Finding a theme song helps you understand who you really are. The more definition you have to who you are, the better you will interview. Just be sure to refrain from singing the song. It might not go so well for you.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Students should begin creating a theme as soon as they start high school. Having a theme means tying

Creating a theme song means that you tie your interests, activities, volunteer work, community service and course work together around a topic that really interests you. For example if you are concerned about the environment you could take environmental biology courses, start a compost center at your school, help younger students learn about recycling etc. Start exploring your interests early in your high school career and continue to pursue those things that you are truly passionate about verse selecting something that you think will impress an admissions officer. When it comes time for your interview you will be able to have an engaging and comfortable conversation. Admissions officers will take note because you will show that you truly are passionate about what you do. You will ace the interview. Good Luck.

Brian D. Crisp
Founder and President Crisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

Someone Like You

It may be more of a mantra than an actual theme song. Students engaging in an admission process where alumni or on-campus interviews are critical should be true to themselves. This may sound a bit trite, but it is true as interviewers are looking for someone like you. Interviewers desire to know what makes you unique and how such uniqueness will contribute to the school community. Therefor, do not recite your application and highlight your activities sheet. Instead, spend some time on a significant passion that highlights your personal attributes while showing depth and breadth of subject matter. Discuss your love of origami, Contemporary Appalachian Literature, or cross-country skiing. There are no set rules for interviews and each school will embrace its particular nuances. Yet, universally, showing your unique qualities and passions will serve you well. After the interview, remember to highlight these passions in a brief hand-written thank-you note.

Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis Educational Consulting

How can having a theme song help ace the college interview?

It is certainly an intriguing idea. Given the recent music video put out but the Yale Admissions office, and the willingness at Tufts to watch offbeat YouTube videos, an interview theme song does not seem so far-fetched. That said, If I were your interviewer, I would probably call security if you jumped on the desk and starting belting out Celine Dion songs. Ok, so seriously, I think its a great idea of having a theme for your interview. Know what you want to convey to the admissions office, things that you know they can't get from just reading your application. Rather than acting like a deer in the headlights, take some control over the process and engage your interviewer. Whether you are just asking salient questions (not the things you could have had answered by a quick glance at their website), or steering questions to your intended subjects, this is your chance to make an impression. Use it wisely.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens


If it makes you feel more comfortable and relaxed, then go for it!

Ginger Fay
President Fay College Counseling, LLC

You're not Ally McBeal, but...

OK, none of you are probably old enough to have ever seen the legal dramedy that made Calista Flockhart famous, so here's the upshot - Ally used to imagine she had her own personal theme song (I think it was "Tell Him") and it gave her the confidence she needed to go into court or on a date or whatever. While I don't recommend breaking into a song and dance number in the middle of your interview (unless, of course, you are auditioning for a musical theater program), finding your own personal theme song can be a good exercise to help you prep for an interview. The point is that in order to interview successfully, you have to know who you are and how to introduce that to someone else. If a theme song doesn't work for you, you can go with something simpler, like, What are the three or four things someone needs to know about me in order to know what's important to me? These things could be both values you hold and accomplishments of which you are proud. If you can set those ideas to music in your head, great, but either way what you want is the confidence that comes from knowing who you are.

Peter Ratzan

Have an Agenda

When approaching the college interview, it is important to be prepared with specific experiences, characteristics, or qualities about yourself that you want to express to the interviewer. I call this "having an agenda". A typical college interview will last about 30 minutes, perhaps less, so you have very little time to express yourself. An interview is a give and take - you need to make sure you uphold your end of the bargain, er, conversation. So go in knowing what you want to express to the interviewer. If you speak 3 languages and want that to be known, somehow work that into the conversation. If you are an expert illustrator, or you have written an iPhone application find a way to work that in. Be conversational - interviewers loathe those awkward silences and love students who give full answers to questions. Avoid simple yes/no answers by elaborating on your responses. And if you do come across an awkward silence, take initiative by using it as an opportunity to ask a question. More than likely, the interviewer will conclude by saying, "Do you have any questions?". Try to have an 'extra' question prepared, so that you can ask it at the end. Finally, be sure to get a business card and follow up with a hand-written thank you note.

Willard Dix
Director of Programming Chicago Scholars

Stand Out from the Crowd

A theme song can help you stand out by being memorable, but not in a good way, unless you are applying to a performing arts program or musical theater school. Otherwise, it will be embarrassing and gimmicky. You will make your interviewer uncomfortable, and if it's an alumnus you've met in a coffee shop, well, you'll both probably want to slink away before you've finished. Of course, I assume the question is about performing a theme song. If you just want to mention it, that's probably OK although I'm not sure why it would come up.