The Australians have a wonderful term for someone who stands out: “they are a tall poppy”. That phrase brings a vivid visual to mind of an expansive field of bright red and orange poppies swaying in the gentle breeze under the summer sun. And from any vantage point, you can see one or two flowers that have grown well above the rest. The tall poppies. You notice them.
Sometimes it’s an honor to be a tall poppy: you have risen above the crowd. Other times, well, not so much: you attract too much attention and get cut down.
So, for college interviews, is it an advantage or disadvantage to be a tall poppy? That highly depends on you and on the college.
During most college interviews , you want to stand out in a good way: be sharp, be professional, be personable. But don’t stand out because you smell bad, give flip answers, or are disrespectful. Those latter characteristics won’t win you any points. But don’t be afraid to have flair. Dress up a simple skirt and blouse with some funky jewelry or bright scarf that you might have a story about. Did you make them? Acquire them during a trip? Guys can do the same with a colorful shirt or tie. (5) And stand out with amazing answers; don’t try to say what you thing the interviewer wants to hear. Be truthful and speak from the heart. Don’t be afraid to be different.
Because here’s the thing: you need to be who you are during an interview. You shouldn’t pretend to be something you aren’t because if you get accepted under false pretenses, chances are you aren’t going to fit in once you start being true to yourself. If you thrive in an unstructured environment, make sure you check out “unusual” colleges that will fit your profile and needs. If having purple hair and lots of tats makes you happy, find a college that embraces that profile and thrive there. If you love structure and attention to detail, there are colleges that will appeal to you that are focused that way. College is your opportunity to grow, develop, and discover who you will be. Make the most of it and be a tall poppy, in a good way.
Bio: Gail Billingsley is COO of Smart College Visit, a college search and campus visit travel planning site, as well as a freelance marketing and business strategy consultant.