The Ivy Coach Daily

April 17, 2016

Princeton Interviewing

Princeton University has changed its alumni interviewing policies (photo credit: John Phelan).

Princeton University has announced some changes to their alumni interviewing policies. Before conducting interviews, Princeton alumni interviews will now need to fill out an online questionnaire to ensure they have no conflicts of interest as these alums interview prospective students for the university. We believe this change makes complete sense and we applaud Princeton for taking a proactive step toward creating a more fair system.

According to a piece on Princeton alumni interviewing in “The Daily Princetonian” by Jessica Li, “Alumni interviewers are required to disclose whether they have felony convictions or an online presence that parents ’might deem inappropriate.’ In both cases, alumni must obtain advance written permission from the Office of Admission in order to interview applicants. The guidelines don’t offer any explanation or examples of what administrators mean by ’inappropriate.’ In addition, they must also disclose any immediate family members applying to the University or any other college, if they are employed by a for-profit admissions venture and if they have a criminal record.”

Ivy Coach salutes Princeton University for leading the charge to reform alumni interviewing.

We believe these changes to be not only fair but necessary. Over the years, we’ve heard so many complaints from students about alumni interviews. We’ve heard so many complaints about things alumni have said to prospective students (see our post Shame on Harvard — although we saluted Harvard recently for bringing back the Air Force ROTC so it’s not like we aren’t, well, fair and balanced). We’ve heard about alumni interviewers teaming up to interview students (sometimes in groups of four or five — how intimidating!). We’ve heard about alumni asking inappropriate questions like what other schools students have applied to. Or they meet students in fancy homes that are way too far away for certain prospective students to come to. What on earth would happen if one alumni interviewer with a criminal background interviewed a student and did something terrible? Kudos to Princeton for thinking about this and taking proactive action.

We’re glad that Princeton has taken this proactive step toward creating a better alumni interviewing system and we hope that other universities will follow in their trailblazing path. And we agree with Princeton that private college consultants (and school counselors — since they’re paid to help students get into college too) and anyone involved in any way in the field of college admissions shouldn’t be able to interview students. That is perfectly logical and equitable.

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