Confessions of a Harvard Interviewer

Harvard Admissions, Admission to Harvard, Harvard Gatekeeper, Harvard Interviewing

The interview is but a small part of the highly selective college admissions process, including to Harvard.

We came across a very longwinded piece on “Gawker” today entitled “Confessions of a Harvard Gatekeeper” written anonymously. When we were first reading the piece, we were under the impression that this confessor had worked for the last eight years as an admissions officer, but it became clear to us in the course of reading the piece that this anonymous writer had volunteered as an alumni interviewer for her alma mater, likely in charge of a district’s alumni interviewing. As the writer so describes, “A low-level volunteer, sure, but an official one all the same. I served as one of thousands of alumni volunteers around the world—a Regional Representative for my local Schools Committee, if you want to get technical. And, as a Regional Rep, my duties fell somewhere between Harvard recruiter and Harvard gatekeeper.” Admissions officers are not volunteers. It’s an important distinction.

Because in this meandering piece in which the writer complains about just about everything — including tossing a couple of barbs at Harvard’s longtime, well respected Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons — it is never mentioned that alumni interviews carry little weight in the admissions process to Ivy League schools. Are they a component of the admissions process? Yes indeed. Are they one of the two or three most important components? No. That fact alone undercuts much of the writer’s arguments. Complaining about everything from the dress code of applicants during interviews to how Harvard, in the writer’s opinion, seems to only admit the wealthy (this is totally not true), to how stale and overly polished most applicants present themselves as (that is true!), we’re not quite sure why this piece is making the rounds today. Frankly, it’s not all that insightful.

And this story has already been made into a book and a movie. It’s called “Admission.” It starred Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. And the movie about Ivy League admission was fantastic. So we’re not really sure what this anonymous writer’s angle was. It seems like the writer just had some frustration to put out there in the universe and by the end of the essay, we couldn’t help but feel stupider for having read it. There, we said that.

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