How can you get your foot into the door of a top college that you are interested in?
The answer is simpler than you may think…
Many schools these days are now offering interviews with their alumni.
These alumni interviews allow for something magical…
Getting to intimately know an institution from someone with first-hand experience.
However, the alumni interview is not always entirely well understood.
For starters, questions many families have include:
Does the interview impact admissions?
What questions should a student ask?
How does one properly follow-up after an alumni interview?
All of these questions and more are absolutely legitimate.
Unfortunately, there are very few resources or guides that help students truly master the alumni interview.
Let’s begin with the tenets of the interview.
All Alumni Interviews Have Three Questions I Nearly Guarantee Will Be Asked
Yes, you heard that right!
All alumni interviews come down to three very simple questions.
First, Why Us?
An alumni wants to know what has made you interested in the school they are representing.
Secondly, Why You?
Remember, schools are interviewing & screening sometimes tens of thousands of applicants a year.
What makes you a special candidate for admission into their program?
And Third, Do You Have Questions For Us?
Every alumni interview will come with these questions in one form or another.
It is true that they may not literally say to you “Why You?”
But, they will want to know why you are a good fit for the school they are representing.
Having answers prepared for these three major questions can tremendously boost your chances at acing the alumni interview.
Questions to Ask in an Alumni Interview
Every alumni interview will hold space for questions that can be asked between student and alum.
Keep in mind that these types of interviews tend to be quite informal, very much like coffee dates between two people getting to know each other.
Generally, you want to ask questions about their experience at the school as well as about the school itself.
Some questions you can ask in an alumni interview:
- What was your experience like at the school?
- Did you find the school well-integrated into a greater community beyond the school?
- Was there anything you did not like about your school? (it is okay to ask this question specifically at an alumni interview).
- What was student life like?
- How was the bond between you and the faculty at the schools?
Obviously, there are an infinite number of questions you can ask in an alumni interview.
On the next page, we discuss how to follow-up after an alumni interview…
During the Follow-Up, Tell the Alum It Is Your Top-Choice School (If You Really Want to Go)
After the alumni interview, you should definitely follow up with whoever you met with.
Remember that alumni probably meet with a couple students each year; no one is an alumni interviewer full-time.
That said, you want this person to think of you as someone who has stood out in the interview.
To that end, you should follow up via email.
The email should simply say thank you for your time, recount a couple points you liked about your particular meeting, and end with a strong affirmation that the school you are interviewing for is your top-choice school.
I’ll say that again.
In the follow-up, tell the alum it is your top choice program.
This is an important maneuver, as this will be relayed back to the school.
Not many know this, but schools prefer to provide acceptance letters to students that have indicated their school is their top choice program.
No school wants to feel like the #2 option.
So, if you would like to attend a school, this is one of our premium recommendations.
Keep In Touch
While I don’t recommend messaging the alum on a weekly or even monthly basis, checking in every few months during the process can be helpful.
Alumni selected to interview applicants have a special relationship with the schools they represent.
These alumni are selected because they are respected individuals who have become model alumni for prospective students to follow.
As such, they maintain a close connection with administration, staff, and faculty at a school.
Although alumni interviews are not the most important part of admissions, they can be important, and you should take the interviewer very seriously.
By keeping in touch and fostering a relationship with the alum, you can, quite possibly, find your way into a top-choice school.
Have you gone through an alumni interview?
Are you a college alumni yourself who has interviewed candidates?
Share with us your feelings below on your experience. Your comments will help thousands of readers as they begin their own journey through the exciting college process.
Featured image is Shimer College, Shimer College art discussion, CC BY 2.0