02/28/2012 08:13 am ET Updated Apr 28, 2012

The Interview Act

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

Before I perform a scene or a skit, I'm usually calm, cool, and collected -- until the last three minutes before my cue. That's when I freak out. And that's what happened before my first college interview.

A Yale alum and I scheduled an afternoon meeting at a Crumbs in Manhattan. Tip 1: Be prompt. It's important to be on time, or even early -- not an hour early, because that's just odd, but about five to 10 minutes. This leads to Tip 2: If you're early, have something to do to pass the time. Time is precious and the last thing you want to do is waste it. You could give yourself a pep talk, meditate, read, or anything else your heart desires. As I awaited my interviewer, I ate a cupcake, and my pen tackled my journal, scribbling about why I was so nervous, why I shouldn't be nervous, and possible things I could talk about. I was so nervous that I left one of my best friends a two-minute voice message summarizing the journal entry I was in the midst of writing. I knew there was no reason to be nervous, because my chances of getting admitted to Yale are slim and this interview probably wouldn't do much to affect that. Despite this, I still wanted to give it my all.

I thought if I treated this interview like a scene, then things would be easier because I'd be forced to stay in character as a confident student. Well, it wasn't easier. I felt fake and pressured, which made me stutter a lot in the first few minutes. So I stopped pretending and started being real. There was nothing to be afraid of. Tip 3: Be confident, be honest, and be yourself. Know why you chose the school and what excites you about it. I had done a mock interview with my mentors beforehand, and I had done my research on the school, so I knew what really interested me about Yale. This new ray of confidence made me shine as I spoke clearer. I talked about Bulldog Productions, the school's only filmmaking club. With film in mind as a possible major, joining this club would be absolutely necessary for me. It's like the green tea in a Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino (haven't tried it? DO IT!) -- without membership in this club, I'd be a flavorless Frappuccino. I'm excited by how all of these students come together to create awesome short films.

I can't take all the credit for how well the interview went; my interviewer knew how to keep the conversation flowing. It was fun talking to him -- so fun that I had to constantly remind myself that this was a college interview. I felt very comfortable with him, and I guess that's one of the reasons the interview lasted for three hours (they usually last about an hour). What made our conversation so fascinating was that we discovered that we have a lot in common, such as career interests, family issues, and favorite YouTube stars!

This interview wasn't just about me or what I had in common with my interviewer, though. Tip 4: Ask questions. Not only does this show how interested you are in the school, but it also allows you to get a better idea of the place. I asked things like: Why did you choose your major? What do you do now and how has Yale helped you with that? How has Yale prepared you for the "real world"? What is one thing you would change about Yale? Tip 4.5: Pay attention to the answers. This is extremely helpful when deciding if a school is truly for you. My interviewer made Yale seem like a dreamland, a community where students both help each other and are motivated to do incredible things on their own. Who wouldn't want that? I could tell that he was being honest and genuine, and that made me even more excited about the school.

Yes, I thought the interview went well, but I don't want to jinx things. Besides, after the interview, I incessantly second-guessed some of my responses. Then I felt envious of the seniors who had already posted college acceptances on Facebook. There were a lot. I felt hopeless, even though I knew that most decisions wouldn't be given out until April. That led to me to start tracking all of my applications. The schools all said the same thing: They'd received my materials and my application is now being processed. All except for one. On the Rutgers website it stated, in big bold letters, "Jennifer, congratulations on your admittance!"