Stanford Adds Alumni Interviews

One of those big differences between US and UK universities

Inside Higher Ed carries a piece on alumni interviews:

Alumni interviews have for decades been part of the admissions process at elite private colleges. Their role has sometimes frustrated applicants, and left them guessing about strategies. Over the years, the process has also annoyed many alumni.

Interview

"Enough about you, let me tell you about when I was a student here..."

A 2002 article in The New York Times quoted a Cornell University alumnus talking about how all of the candidates seem the same: “If I see another valedictorian, I may throw up.” And Cornell doesn’t even call the sessions “interviews,” preferring the term “contact meeting” to stress that the alumni aren’t deciding who gets in. Still, alumni interviews are the norm at elite colleges — with a more common complaint of alumni of late, as documented recently by Bloomberg, being that they don’t have enough influence to make the interviews worth their time.

So, Stanford has joined in after standing apart from others for some time. It’s really just not clear why.

But could it happen in the UK? Mass applications would effectively prevent this as they have already killed off interviews in most subjects and institutions. But even if interviewing was still a common feature, would you involve alumni in the process?

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2 thoughts on “Stanford Adds Alumni Interviews

  1. In addition to the points made here (and made well), and those in the articles cited, there is a lot of organisational overhead associated with implementing this service. Contact information, record-keeping, volunteer stewardship, and continuous feedback make it a labor-intensive practice.

    Meanwhile, I wrote recently about some of the alumni attitudes toward this practice here:

    http://www.alumnifutures.com/2011/03/alumni-admissions.html

    Thanks.

    • There is clearly a lot more to this as Andy’s piece shows. I guess time will tell but will be interesting to see if this practice does emerge in the UK in those subjects/institutions which still do interviews.

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