What does it mean to receive a "conversation opportunity" with a Colby College alumnus?

I applied to Colby College regular decision and received an email inviting me to sign up for a “non-evaluative” conversation with a local alumni. If anyone has had one of these conversations before, what should I do to prepare for it? And is it a good sign that I received the invitation to even have the conversation in the first place??

I know nothing about it but even if they state it is non-evaluative, I’d recommend treating any contact with a college like an interview.

Cornell does the same - non evaluative alumni meeting but we do write up reports of the contact. It can demonstrate interest on your part to participate and be an opportunity to get another perspective of the university. Be prepared to ask the alum questions about their experience and enjoy!

I believe that Colby cares if you show interest but that all interviews are non-evaluative (whether on campus or with alumni off campus). It will be helpful to you to do this and you should use it as a chance to learn more about the school, whether it’s jan plan, study abroad, pre-med advising, intramural sports, or COOT.

Colby alums have a very strong network, and someone who offered to do this is probably enthusiastic, so make the most of it!

I would take advantage of the opportunity. Prepare for it as if it was an interview - be able to explain why you think you are a good fit for Colby, come with some questions you have about the school etc… Use the conversation to: 1) demonstrate interest in Colby and 2) learn more about the school.

It means you get to meet with an alumni and talk about the school.

Colby seems to be working hard to increase applications and interest in their school. I get the impression something isn’t going so well there. Maybe it’s the weather and isolation - times have changed and it I think it’s getting harder to sell that.

^^ Hmmm. This assessment could not be further from the truth! Colby’s acceptance rate was less than 10% last year! Hard admit, yes. Hard sell, no!

In the last several years (under David Greene), the school has raised a pile of money and done so many exciting things. Some of them revolve around opportunities (DavisConnects, new athletic complex, dorms in Waterville itself) and some revolve around accessibility (guarantee of a cost of $15,000 for middle income families and working with Questbridge etc.) And of course, there are tons of smaller things. My own sense is that Colby, which has always been well known and respected in the New England area, is actively (and successfully) extending it reach. In that regard, they are hardly alone.

I would guess that alumni interviews are one of the ways they can give prospective students a sense of the school if they can’t make a trip to Maine. And Maine, btw, is one of the great draws of the school. Kids there really seem to take advantage of that amazing location.

Enjoy your conversation, @KathrynJ !

gardenstategal Colby’s acceptance rate was what it was because they have gone to great lengths to increase their applications. They are not the only school doing this. It’s the game these days. More applications = more rejections which means lower acceptance rate.

Free applications, emails soliciting them from unqualified candidates…Colby has joined in.

Right, this is an alum interview. They’re just rebranding it, to help prospies understand that it’s non-evaluative. As with most small schools, alums will write up a report and the Admission office will read it.

@Empireapple , I was responding to your comment “something isn’t going so well there”. Completely off the mark.

You are right, though, that every school would like a chance to see as many as applicants as possible. It gives them the best shot at creating the class it wants. And they all do what they can to do that, especially if it allows them to tap into a segment they’ve targeted (i.e., no application fee).

My D also received an invitation for an informal conversation with an alum or current student. I agree it seems like something to treat as an interview.

I have a related question if anyone is willing to weigh in - It looks like the student conversation would be via Skype and would the alum interview would be in person? We live in an area where it could be hard to find an alum nearby. Would it be better to sign up for the current student option?

Personally, I think a current student would be most able to respond to questions with current info. (I say this as someone who has been an alumni interviewer for another school. There is really no substitute for being on campus if you want to know about what is going on!) For example, only someone who graduated last year could have a perspective on the downtown housing and the current state of shuttle service between campus and town. Anyone who graduated in 2018 or before would have no knowledge of that because it’s new.

I do think it’s important to remember that sometimes you make a great connection (alum or student) and sometimes you don’t. It’s no different than campus tours in that regard, so I wouldn’t sweat it either way.

You may have an alum nearby. These interviews are one of the ways schools keep alums engaged, so perhaps someone has volunteered? If they don’t have one, you’ll default to Skype.

@KathrynJ , Please follow the advice of those who say take advantage of the conversation opportunity and treat it like an interview. It is a great way to learn more about the school. Also, please do not be scared away by negative comments. A sub 10% acceptance rate and average SAT hovering around 1490 are not signs of a school struggling to attract bright, qualified students. The location, while not for everyone, is a draw for many students who enjoy the outdoors. There are lots of good things happening at Colby right now. Good luck!!

Did you have your conversation? How was it like? Similar to alumni interviews? Much more informal? I’ll have mine tomorrow with current student through skype. I’ll be grateful if anyone has tips. How many questions should I prepare?

Both @Empireapple and @gardenstategal make important observations.

Colby College is taking a lot of positive steps to attract applicants & to deliver a great college experience.

In my opinion & in my experience, a crucial part of a healthy, well rounded education includes physical development as well as intellectual development. Colby College deserves praise for the construction of an incredible athletic facility & for a successful marketing campaign which has increased both quality & quantity of applications.

OP: Any contact with a representative from a college or university should reveal curiosity, knowledge & enthusuiasm about the school on your part.

@chococookie I do alumni interviews for a different college and can give you some idea what makes a good conversation for me. First and foremost, if you have not visited the campus, look at the website, do some research. and have some questions ready. It is really hard to talk to someone who has no idea what the college even looks like! I love when students want to know about my experiences and what made the school special to me. If an alumni or current student interviews, they generally love the school and will love talking about Colby and their experiences.

And FYI, I have a current junior at Colby who absolutely loves the school.

Good luck!

My daughter had a “Conversation” with a student who is currently a freshman at Colby. They truly had a conversation, rather than an interview, and I think it had more of an impact on my daughter than the more formal alumni interviews. She was a bit on the fence about Colby - I honestly pushed her to apply because of their financial aid policies for families in our income bracket. But she really liked some of the thing she read - and the student yesterday did a great job “selling” the school in a very natural way. (They both want to attend the same Jan Plan next year!)

On a side note for those with limited funds, we were told that Colby pays for students to attend Admitted Students Day if they apply for/qualify for need-based grants.

Is the alumni conversation something you all requested? If not, how did you find out about it? I don’t think my son has heard anything from Colby?

@ruediww My D received an email in early January with a link to request an alumni conversation or student conversation via Skype. She requested the student conversation and won’t do it until next week but I think the deadline to sign up for one may have passed.

My son never received any email regarding any “interview” or “conversation”. We just believed the - “Colby does not offer interviews as a part of the application process.” - statement on their website and didn’t bother about it. But after reading this thread, I just contacted the school and was informed that they had emailed my son but the email bounced back and that sadly the option to interview is now closed. I don’t understand what they meant by the email having bounced back. Because the email should at least have gone to the junk/spam folder, which we check several times a day, to avoid just such a situation. Although the admissions office informed that not having the interview will have no impact on the application, somehow I just don’t buy that.