The Ivy Coach Daily

March 30, 2011

Ivy League Interviews

Many alumni of Ivy League colleges stop doing alumni interviews because they find it frustrating their applicants rarely get in (photo credit: Sach1tb).

There was an article in yesterday’s “Bloomberg News” entitled “Ivy League Alumni Quit Admissions Interviews As Success Slips” that tells the story of alumni of Ivy League colleges disenchanted with the alumni interview process. Many alumni of Ivy League colleges and other prestigious universities across the nation sign up to interview for their alma maters because they wish to serve as ambassadors for their colleges. They want to convince high school applicants to attend their alma maters if they’re admitted by regaling them with stories of their undergraduate days and by offering insight into all of the unique academic and extracurricular activities available at their universities. And for a long time, many of the interviewers interviewed for this article did just that…until they realized that most of the people they interviewed weren’t getting in.

On staff at Ivy Coach, we have alumni interviewers for many of the Ivy League colleges and we are not at all surprised by this article. It can be frustrating to interview applicants of your alma mater year after year only to check the admissions decisions and learn that none of the applicants whom you’ve interviewed were admitted. But these alumni interviewers are rather foolish if they think that strong alumni interview recommendations will guarantee admission of at least some of their interviewees.

According to the article by Janet Lorin, “Princeton graduate Beth Flaming, 38, met with about 15 students in more than eight years as an alumni interviewer for the school. Only one got in. Flaming, a Chicago lawyer and the mother of two young children, stopped interviewing three years ago. ’I’ve always thought it was an ambassador-type role,’ said Flaming. ’That being said, what great purpose is being an ambassador to 20,000 people who are not going to get in?’”

Do these alumni interviewers not realize that they attended some of the most competitive colleges? Are they unaware of their alma mater’s low admissions rate? If there is an overall admissions rate of less than 12%, why should an alumni interview expect that more than 1/15 students whom they interview will get in? Is this strictly narcissism? Do alumni interviewers believe that since they interviewed these students and wrote glowing letters of recommendation on their interview forms that the students should be admitted?

The fact is that alumni interviews serve a dual purpose. Alumni interviews offer a glimpse into applicants that college admissions counselors may not otherwise gain (particularly since many highly selective colleges have eliminated on-campus interviews with admissions counselors). And alumni interviews generally satisfy alumni in that they offer alumni a chance to weigh in on the next class of students to their alma mater. These are the benefactors of their colleges and so by offering involvement in the college admissions process, they are essentially extending an olive branch to their donors.

Check out the article “Ivy League Alumni Quit Admissions Interviews as Success Slips” in “Bloomberg News” here.

And check out our recent newsletter on what applicants should not do on college interviews, our blog on college interviews, and our informational video on alumni interviews.

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