‘Tis the season for college interviews. Around this time every year, alumni interviewers are emailing, calling, and, yes, texting Early Decision and Early Action applicants to set up their interviews. So if you have an unread voicemail that’s been sitting on your cell phone for the last several days, you might want to have a listen. It just might be your alumni interviewer trying to set up a time to sit down with you. The alumni interviewer likely doesn’t appreciate that it’s taken you so long to get back to them. But, anyway, what’s the alumni interview all about and what role does it play in the admissions process at highly selective colleges, you ask?
Interview Isn’t As Important As You Likely Think It Is
We get a lot of parents and students who were not previously our clients writing into us during this time every year seeking alumni interview prep. And — don’t get us wrong — we offer alumni interview prep. We can get students more prepared for a college interview than any firm on the planet. But it does make us scratch our heads that these folks didn’t seem to think the applications, the many essays, and all the work that had to be done before the November 1st deadline was so important but the alumni interview, well, for that they need help. Those applications, those essays, those activities — they were hugely important. The alumni interview? Not so much. They’ve got things backwards.
Alumni Interview Designed to Make Alumni Feel Involved
Don’t get us wrong. If you say something racist or homophobic in an alumni interview, you’ll doom your application. If you say things that are inconsistent with your application, express little to no knowledge about the actual school to which you’re applying, or come across as arrogant or cavalier, you’ll really hurt your chances. But a great alumni interview is not going to seal the deal. The alumni interview, after all, is designed as much for the alumni as it is for college applicants — to make alumni — the folks who donate to the school — feel as though they’re intimately involved in the admissions process. Of course, they’re not; their evaluations are, generally, read with six grains of salt and a little pepper too. The purpose of the alumni interview is twofold: (1) to further sell students on the school and (2) to gauge that the applicant is a good fit for the school.
Some Alumni Interviewers Don’t Get It
Some alumni interviewers, though, seem to think their whole purpose is to gauge whether or not an applicant is the right fit for the school. They forget that a chief task of theirs is to articulate why they love their alma mater. In our experience, the alumni interviewers who believe it their task to evaluate applicants more than sell the school tend to ask some inappropriate questions. These questions could include: (1) What other schools are you applying to if you don’t get in Early?; (2) What are your grades and scores? These, of course, are not the types of questions college admissions officers wish for their alumni to ask.
And while the alumni interview is but a small piece of the admissions puzzle, it’s important for an applicant to put their best foot forward. If you’re interested in interview prep, fill out our free consultation form and indicate interview prep. Our interview prep is a one-hour session in which we ask the questions most alumni interviewers ask — and revise and revise and revise students’ answers.