At competitive colleges and universities, there’s often little that separates one student from another—at least on paper. That’s where alumni interviews come in. Volunteers are notified when someone in their geographic region applies. From there, an alumni interviewer reaches out to schedule a meeting that should help an admissions officer gain additional insight into a prospective student.
Most schools don’t make interviews a requirement, but they do encourage them. Here’s what to expect.
They last about a half hour and are conducted in public places. Colleges typically give volunteer interviewers a sense of what they’re looking for, sometimes suggesting questions. Common topics include school subjects, a potential major and nonacademic activities. The idea is to determine what areas you’re most invested in. Common questions include everything from “Why do you want to go here?” to “How would you describe yourself?”
An alumni interview is your chance to contextualize your application. You may, for example, have fewer activities because you have a part-time job. And there may be a situation you want to talk openly about—one that’s difficult to describe in an essay.
Ones that require answers that can’t be found online. Don’t hesitate to ask an alumni interviewer about their own campus experience. That personal connection helps you imagine what it might be like on campus.
Following the interview, a volunteer alum will submit an evaluation, which can range from a written essay to bullet points with a summary of the conversation. Some schools ask for a numeric rating and a written evaluation.
Always go into an alumni interview knowing that it could be a factor that sways a close decision one way or the other.
Related: Your Guide to Colleges and Schools Around the Main Line