Normal for interviews?

<p>D had an interview for one of her coleges today. Her interviewer asked her to bring a writing sample and her transcript to the interview - this surprised her but she took them anyway. During the interview, her interviewer asked her what other colleges she was applying to. She was unprepared for this because she thought interviewers were not supposed to ask about other colleges. Have any of your kids experienced this? And if so how did they respond?</p>

<p>Was this an alumni interview? Or one with admissions staff from the college? While there have been numerous reports of interviewers asking what other colleges the student is applying to, I never ask the question that way. (I’m an alumni interviewer.) I might ask what kinds of colleges the student is looking at - my alma mater is a Liberal Arts College. If it’s the only LAC the student is applying to, I will talk about the difference between LACs and universities. If the student is only applying to LACs, I don’t have to do that talk.</p>

<p>So in my view there are good reasons for the interviewer to ask this question in general terms, but there is no need to ask specifically which colleges the student is applying to. But because this has been reported many times before, it is a question that students should be prepared to answer in some way (they can be general, give just a few names, etc. but should be prepared for the question to be asked).</p>

<p>The question about other colleges seems typical. I have not heard of being asked to bring a transcript or writing sample, that seems very odd, adcoms will have that anyway.</p>

<p>Many of my sons’ interviewers asked for transcripts - it gives them a jumping off point for questions. Adcoms have the transcript, but alumni interviewers often don’t. “I see you got an A in AP World, do you like history?” sort of thing. They often ask about other colleges. My older son’s Harvard interviewer spent a fair amount of the interview trying to persuade him that he would like it just as much as MIT. I don’t think being specific hurts, but you can also say things like “I’m looking at other small LACs in the sticks” or “I’m looking at other large research universities with a lot of school spirit.”</p>

<p>Colleges have different rules for these things. I interview for Brown, and we’re not supposed to ask to see transcripts – Brown wants its alumni interviews to be based on what the admission office doesn’t see. Same for writing samples – in my opinion, it’s the admissions office’s job to evaluate that aspect of the application, not mine.</p>

<p>As for the question about where else she is applying – this has been discussed a lot on CC. Some parents have suggested creative approaches for how to answer this. Most seem to agree that it’s a question that shouldn’t be asked – but it seems that interviewers really like to ask it. Given the enormous amount of information in an application file, it’s hard to believe that this one factoid, where else the student is applying, plays a huge role in an admissions decision.</p>

<p>Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion about this “Where else are you applying?” issue on the National Association for College Admission Counseling listserve.</p>

<p>Colleges are not supposed to ask for this information, but many still do … sometimes formally (right on the application) and, most commonly, in interviews (especially alumni interviews. Admission offices have less control over their alum interviewers than they do over their own staff).</p>

<p>Thus, I suggest that students arrive at interviews prepared to answer this question (although it probaby won’t be asked.) </p>

<p>I recommend that the response should begin with, “I’m still finalizing my list” (depending, of course, whether the interview is in October of the senior year or in January).</p>

<p>It is not necessary to provide one’s entire college list.</p>

<p>Instead, I suggest that the student should name one college from that list that is more selective than the one that he or she is being interviewed for. (And if the interview is for an ultra-selective college, then name a peer institution.)</p>

<p>Next, the student should name a couple schools that are of roughly equal selectivity. </p>

<p>Finally, name one or two that are “Safer.”</p>

<p>The rationale: If the student names ONLY more selective colleges, it can imply, “This is my Safety.” If the student names only LESS selective colleges, the subliminal message can be, “I’m reaching here and don’t expect to get in.” </p>

<p>I also suggest that, if most every college named is significantly different from the host institution, you may want to volunteer an explanation for why THIS college got on the roster. For instance, if you’re interviewing at Wellesley, but the other schools on the list are all giant coed universities, you might say, “At first I was certain I wanted to be at a huge public flagship school like Michigan, but then the rep from Wellesley came to my high school, and when she started talking about small classes and the value of an all-female support sytem, I really begain to rethink my priorities, which is why Wellesley is on my list and the whole list is a work-in-progress.”</p>

<p>It’s a shame that some degree of “gamesmanship” may have to go into this response. And I certainly don’t blame students who don’t want to play along and who simply blurt out the entire list, even if it doesn’t come close to fitting my “prescription.”</p>

<p>I also don’t blame the students who blurt out, “None of your business!!” (Though I definitely don’t advise it. :eek:)</p>

<p>Thanks for all your responses. This was an alumni interview in his home. D says she gave him a filtered list of colleges she was applying to. She said it was a great interview and the guy was very personable but she just found a couple of questions a little too personal. This was her 7th interview and none of the others had any such requests/ questions.</p>

<p>Oh, one more thing … those pesky “Where else are you applying?” questions can offer a good time to volunteer that this school (the one you’re interviewing for) is your top choice … or at least a top choice, if indeed it is.</p>

<p>D did say that this was her top school even though she mentioned a couple of schools higher up on her list and gave reasons why she would pick X over Y or Z if she was accepted to all three (that was another question). What bothers me a little is that the interviewer has a son from a high school that is a competitor of ours in terms of both sports and academics and he is applying to colleges this year too. D found this out during the course of the interview. Hopefully he won’t be sharing D’s transcript and writing samples. Thanks for all your advice SR! D has been reading this too so she has good tips if she encounters such questions again.</p>

<p>I don’t know what college is involved, but my alma mater doesn’t allow alums to interview if their kids are applying in the same year. So, perhaps his son isn’t applying to the same school. </p>

<p>Sometimes, kids “interpret” a question I’ve asked and give me a list of the colleges they have applied to. For example, i’ve asked “What are you looking for in a college?” and received the answer tht the kid’s dream college is a very different one than my alma mater! </p>

<p>Or, I’ll ask “have you visited [my alma mater]?” Asnwer “No, I haven’t had a chance to do that. I’m very busy at school.” “I think it’s helpful to tour campuses. It can give you a better sense of what you like and don’t like. Have you been able to visit any colleges?” Answer: " Oh, yes…I’ve visited [12 colleges, half of which are much further away than my alma mater.] I assume that my alma mater isn’t a top choice.</p>

<p>My college also does not permit alumni to do admissions interviews if they have a child who is applying to college - even if the child has no plans to apply to the college in question.</p>

<p>Although colleges can’t guard against all conflict-of-interest situations (nephews, neighbors, etc. of interviewers applying for coveted spots in the same year), it certainly seems sensible to ask alum evaluators to step down when their own children are seniors.</p>

<p>“I’m aplying to (interviewer’s alma mater), the state flagship (if true) and a few other colleges with good ______departments. Why did you decide to apply to alma mater?”</p>

<p>Whenever I have had a job interview, or my S has, or sometimes before I go into a negotiation, I practice “what might they say? then what would I say? then what might they say?” etc., to help me to be prepared.
I don’t know if its legal to ask what other colleges, or types of schools a potential student is considering. But legality aside, is it really so far off the screen that a student cannot even imagine that a person might ask? Is that a question so beyond the scope of reason?
I urge student to practice more to be better prepared next time. And student needs to do more than have answers ready for common questions. Also know that not all questions must be answered, but be prepared with a non-answer in case that happens.</p>



<p>Not sure about all other schools out there, but I know for the school I do alumni interviews our comments aren’t taken into account at all (and I believe this with the admissions decisions on the people I’ve interviewed over the years).</p>

<p>I like to ask the question since it gives me a better sense of what they want out of a school than broad, generic descriptions such as diverse or big. I’m also a pretty young interviewer (less than 10 years out of the school), so I feel all the work I put into my college search can offer some worthwhile information to the student. Heck, our interviews are supposed to be only to provide prospective students with information about the university (and if it would be a good fit), so if I talk to someone I really don’t think would like the campus vibe (I’ve had a few that were looking for large schools with a strong party atmosphere and prominent sports teams), I’ll let them know and perhaps give them some other schools I think they’d fit in better at.</p>

<p>jonri: The interviewer asked D very specifically “What are the other schools you are applying to?”
younhoos: D did practice with both H and myself. It is not that she was unprepared to answer the question, she was just taken aback as was I. She was told by her school’s GC that interviewers are not allowed to ask about other applications.
RacinReaver: Apparently this particular school places some importance on alumni interviews.
We’re just looking at this as a good learning experience. Thanks everyone for all your comments/advice</p>

<p>I guess I thought D was unprepared for the question because you said this, in the OP:</p>

<p>“her interviewer asked her what other colleges she was applying to. She was unprepared for this because she thought interviewers were not supposed to ask about other colleges.”</p>

<p>It was a good learning experience. Every interview should be. Now student has a fuller understanding that not all people do exactly what they are supposed to do at all times, and that not all people or schools have exactly the same rules and procedures. Not all people follow rules that high school GC believes in. This will help her in the future, not to be “taken aback” by such a simple question. Heck, when I was a senior in high school, all kinds of friends and acquaintences asked me about my intent for college, even people who were practically strangers. To me, it wasn’t such a confidential topic that I thought it inappropriate that they ask. Back then, such a question was quite commonplace.</p>

<p>I hope student is prepared for common questions, and has other preparations ready for the unexpected.</p>

<p>When daughter was applying, interviews were all over the map from the low of a 3 hour grilling trying to poke holes in the veracity of her resume to the high of an hour long intellectual conversation and feeling of serendipity that she had met a wonderful new friend…best advice be prepared for anything.<br>
Luckily we had convinced a few friends who have done alumni interviews for years to give daughter a couple of practice runs before the real thing. Practice does pay off; still have to admit the 3 hour grilling was over the top (and yes she still got into the school in question but she worried about that interviewed for months until she got that decision as it was her first choice school)</p>

<p>If you don’t know anyone who does alumni interviews, its still a good idea to ask a friend whom you know well, but your child does not know well, to do an interview run through.
Good luck.</p>