Overvaluing College Interviews

College Interviews, College Interviewing, Alumni Interviews

Remember this Princeton interview in “Risky Business”? We do!

Folks often write in something like this: “My son needs help with college interviews.” When we see something like this, we often wonder why so many parents essentially overemphasize the importance of the college interview and underemphasize the rest. The truth is that alumni interviews are a part of the admissions process at many highly selective colleges, but they’re one of the least important parts of this very process.

Do alumni interviews matter? Well, you don’t want to say something that will preclude your admission. You don’t want to say something racist (you shouldn’t anyway!). You don’t want to say something homophobic (you shouldn’t anyway!). You want to present yourself in the best possible light, not brag, be likable, etc. But even after all this, the alumni interview is but one small part of a big picture. So why do so many parents who don’t seek assistance with the stuff that matters big time — coursework, testing, an extracurricular hook, school selection, Early Decision / Early Action strategizing, those many college admissions essays, etc. write us asking for assistance with alumni interview prep? It boggles our minds. We’re happy to prep their children for their alumni interviews but we always tell them that this is like cleaning a car in which the engine may or may not be working. You get the idea.

Remember, alumni interviews are as much to appease alumni, to make them feel like they’re a part of the admissions process (after all, alumni are the donors to universities) as they are to figure out if an applicant is worthy of admission to a given university. So, in our minds, the interview is overvalued by many parents and students. They assign it more weight that it deserves.


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