Tuesday, July 19, 2011

K And The College Interview - Part One

I found myself escorting K, the now fifteen year old, to a sixth form college interview last week, for schools in this borough only go up to what I used to call 'O' level stage. You probably remember K. She's a "challenge" in the nicest possible way.

There's nothing worse than parents who go on about how intelligent, bright and potentially world beating their kids are. Why? Because to most parents their kids are always like that, no matter if said kid is thicker than a short plank folded in half and plays bass guitar.

But K is actually bright. She was picked out as one of these "gifted and talented" children a few years ago, she has a voracious appetite for learning and for life in general and possesses a sense of drive and energy that is admirable, enviable and downright scary and annoying at times too. I say all this not so much to boast, more to give you a description of what she's like. Background, I think is what proper writers would call it.

I picked her up from their place at the appointed time, well a good chunk earlier than the appointed time because of my disconcerting obsession with being early. Of course she wasn't ready, so I waited until after the agreed time for her to be ready. As any man knows, compromising with women, especially teenage ones, mostly involves letting them do exactly what they wanted to do. "Letting" implies we have a choice in the matter. Sorry about that, we don't of course.

We left, late and with her saying all sorts of things about us having plenty of time etc. I had been asked by her mother if I would prep her in the car for the interview, so I did tried to.

It was an interview she faced, it was about her future, at a college she wants to go to. She had done no preparation and it was all I could do to ensure that she brought the things she was supposed to bring; her report and whatnot. You would think that she'd be a bit interested in preparing wouldn't you?

But no, the first obstacle I had to hurdle was to get the music turned down so we could have a conversation that didn't involve shouting and wasn't punctuated by her flicking through radio stations every twenty seconds. We got there, turning the music down and doing some role playing. I'm not good at training but at least I'm a salesperson so I felt I had the knowledge, just lacking in technique in imparting it. It was a start.

I went through some questions.

"So K, why do you want to come to X College?"

"Why have you chosen photography as a subject?"

"And why law?"

"What do you want to pursue as a career?"

"Tell me a bit about what you do outside your studying?"

"What do you think about the current News International phone hacking saga?"

I was surprised and disappointed to find that she knew nothing about the last question at all, gave her a little pep talk about why it's good to keep up with current affairs a bit (again) and tried to impart some wisdom about how to generically answer questions like that without lying and sounding like a total idiot and yet giving the impression that she was up with current affairs.

Her answer to the question about studying law was that she "likes to argue". V true, just probably not the best reason for studying 'A' level law. I told her this and was surprised that she appeared to listen to me and heed my advice. I mean, how do you persuade a fifteen year old who thinks it's smart to argue and win that perhaps it's not? It's a bit like meeting God and trying to persuade him that God doesn't exist.

For the "tell me what you do outside studying" we built up her portfolio of things that she does other than facebook and BBM. I reminded her of playing the piano, music in general, how she's the house captain at school (which she'd forgotten!), a member of the school council, that kind of thing.

I told her to think about what the college wants from a student, of how she could benefit the college, the things that they would want more than what she would want. You know, features and benefits, what's in it for the buyer, the regular things about selling.

A and K, being reared by two parents who are both salespeople, are fundamentally familiar with all of these things and have had them drummed into them since they were small, so it's usually more an issue of reminding more than teaching from scratch.

We got to the college, parked and strolled in to find a group of other parents and shifty looking teenagers waiting in the lobby for their interviews too. Some of the kids were in their school uniform and some were in their casual uniform. So it was a contrast of dorky looking school clothes or high fashion. On the parental side it was mostly mothers with a small scattering of Dads. There was one fat one.

The whole group of us was led off to a library where we all sat around and waited. The kids, every one of them, looked relaxed but sullenly pissed off that they had to be somewhere with a parent. In contrast the parents all looked nervous, wondering how to pitch themselves, yet trying to act nonchalant.

Over the next few minutes random people, who we all assumed to be college lecturers, turned up and called the name of a student to take them off for their interview. K watched, as did all of us, to see whether parents were accompanying the child into the interview or not. To her dismay, out of about ten that were called, only one parent had stayed back. The rest had all gone with their child.

K's initial decision; that I should be allowed nowhere near the actual interview, was under threat. Her turmoil was evident. I told her that it was totally up to her, that I was fine to wait or come in, but it was up to her to decide. It was a blatant lie, I NEEDED to be there, just that it had to be her decision.

Eventually she decided that she wanted me there. Not a minute later a floppy haired chap, who looked to be about half my age, with twice my intellect but half my life experience and about ten per cent of even Dominic Sansoni's fashion sense strolled in and asked for "K Diaspora".

Me and K got up, she said hello, corrected the chap in his pronounciation of her name (as we do) and then gave him a good firm but not too firm handshake, as her and her sister have been trained to do since they were tiny. We'd only just kicked off and I felt proud already.

We followed him through a maze of corridors making small talk and ended in a classroom. We all sat down and braced ourselves. I looked at the lecturer and thought

"Oooh, he's more nervous than the two of us put together."

Then we began......

to be continued...............


Magerata said...

Soon, I am waiting to read. I am sure it was fun, for K at least!

Angel said...

Waiting for the second installment!