We are getting some conflicting advice from college counselors and would love to tap the wisdom here. My son is a high-achieving math kid, applying to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT as well as UC system, Oxford, and some match and safeties.
He is also a very shy and fairly awkward kid until he gets to know you. On the common app for Princeton, they ask if you want to be considered for an alumni interview, and they clearly state it’s optional. He asked his college counselor and she said yes, it’s completely optional (but that if he’s going to do it, he needs to practice and prepare.)
He was relieved to hear he didn’t have to do it. But now a different counselor is saying that it’s not truly optional— just like Harvard’s second essay isn’t truly optional— it’s very much expected, and not doing it would look bad.
What do you think?
In addition to everything else, I’m worried that alumni interviewers will be unintentionally biased against someone on the spectrum. My son is on the spectrum, though he doesn’t fit many of the stereotypes, and he isn’t planning on sharing that in his applications. But in an interview, especially online, he will almost certainly appear so (difficulty with eye contact, flatter intonation, etc.)
I’m not worried about the Oxford interview because that will be focused on math, and he will be talking with math professors- I expect my son to actually enjoy that one.