College Alumni Interviewers Often Overstate Their Influence

College Interviews, Alumni Interviews, College Admissions Interviews

Remember this college interview from “Risky Business”?

While the college alumni interview is one component of the admissions process to highly selective colleges, many parents and high school students overvalue its importance. And one key reason why so many folks overvalue the importance of the college alumni interview is because alumni often have a tendency to overstate not only the role of the interview in the process but their influence in the admissions process to their alma maters. “Wait, Ivy Coach, you mean an alumnus told me he can help me get in when in fact he’s not as important as he says he is? It can’t be!” It is. The sooner you accept it, the better.

All Alumni Interviewers Are Not Created Equal

Some alumni are young, some old. Some super successful, some just beginning their careers. Some will meet you at an office, some at a coffee shop. Some will take the approach of talking about themselves ad nauseam, some will devote all of their attention to convincing the applicant why their alma mater is the best college choice. There is a great degree of variance among college alumni interviewers and that’s ok — the admissions officers who read the evaluations of alumni interviewers absolutely get that.

When an alumna writes in an interview evaluation, “This student’s SAT scores aren’t up to the standards of our school,” an admissions officer is more likely to question why the alumna asked the student his SAT score than question if the student’s testing is up to the school’s standards. Admissions officers take what alumni say with six and a half grains of salt and a side of pepper. Now can a wonderful evaluation from a prominent alum help a student’s case for admission? Yes. But admissions officers know that students are assigned candidates at random based on their geography so don’t think for a second that you’re at a disadvantage if you get a young alumnus who doesn’t really know how to conduct an interview. That happens.

Getting An Alumni Interview Is Not A Sign Of Anything

Some parents think that when their child gets notified of an alumni interview, it’s a positive sign of what’s to come. And while we hate to burst bubbles at Ivy Coach, it is not a positive sign. It is not a negative sign either. It signifies absolutely nothing other than that there is an alum in the student’s area who has expressed an interest in interviewing candidates. Students on Long Island are way likelier to be assigned an alum for an interview than are students from Cheyenne, Wyoming. And why? Because Wyoming is more spread out and there just aren’t as many available alumni in the area to interview students — even in the state’s capital city!

Oh and one more thing — alumni are human beings. Sometimes they flake as in they forget to schedule interviews for the candidates they’re assigned. There’s not much that can be done about this. So no need to get so stressed out about it. If you don’t hear from an alum to schedule an interview, don’t think that you’re not getting in. Don’t overthink things. Maybe the interviewer was assigned to you but he suddenly had to move to Juno, Alaska. It happens. Or maybe he fell in love and that became his priority. These things happen, too.


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