Should you carve out time from a hectic schedule to meet an alum if the school offers it? Why bother if this meeting isn’t required or doesn’t “count” in a college’s decision?
As an experienced volunteer alumni interviewer and college administrator, I recommend three important instances to accept the offer to meet an alum:
1. This school is near the top of your list.
After your conversation, the alum volunteer will send admissions a summary of your discussion, an assessment of your strengths, or simply answer the question “do you think this student would be a good fit at our institution?” So, even if the meeting doesn’t officially “count,” positive comments from the interviewer could help, and will never hurt.
2. Your interest in the school is strong enough that you’ll also make time to prepare for the meeting.
Don’t memorize the admission material or the school fight song; do prepare to respond thoughtfully when asked about your interest in this particular institution. Prepare a few questions about a particular academic program or an aspect of campus life, these will demonstrate your genuine interest. If you decide to wing it, you won’t fool the interviewer. The alums who volunteer feel deep loyalty to their alma mater and are committed to helping identify the strongest, most worthy candidates. (See #1)
3. If you have two or three schools vying for top spot on your list.
Also, ask your admission rep to help arrange a call with a current student involved in something you hope to do in college – student government, club sports, or Model UN. A student from your high school, or one nearby, could provide insight into what it might be like to transition to a new community, for example from your small high school to a huge, urban university.
Beyond getting a positive note added to your application file, you’ll benefit yourself by taking the school up on the offer to talk with someone outside of the admissions team. You’ll learn things you can’t from the school’s orchestrated social media and marketing brochures. In the end, these conversations will help you work smarter, not harder through the whole application process.
This post is written by Anne Shields, Chariot Learning’s Community Coordinator and Accountability Coach.