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The Alumni Interview: Decoded
The college admissions process is a moment of great enlightenment for most high school seniors. Some learn about the importance of following your dreams; others learn that people on the online college threads must be speaking the word of God. Unfortunately, I was definitely in the latter half.
From everything I had read about Dartmouth, there were some wild misconceptions floating around. One of the most inaccurate was 'the alumni interview.' Ah, the alumni interview. I remember eagerly hoping that I would get one, because the 'online people' had said only those who were going to get in got one.
There were many pearls of wisdom like this — wear green for the interview, it shows school spirit! Research your interviewer online, stalk their interests and make them yours! Be five minutes late to your interview, give off a cool vibe. With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I was thrilled when I got one.
Now being on the other side, though, I have to tell you everything I've learned about the interview since. Here's hoping I can help drown out the noise of the online world and instead give you a sobering look at the truth.
The alumni interview, as I understand it, is a completely randomized process. There is no saying who will get one and who will not — it entirely depends on alumni availability! Dartmouth alumni live illustrious and busy lives, and therefore scheduling a meeting with over 40-50 applicants is nearly impossible. Even if you do not get an interview, please understand that it cannot reflect poorly on your application, which should speak volumes for itself (metaphorically, not literally!)
But for those of you who do get an alumni interview, please understand this: the alumni are not there to grill you and scare you. These are people who have spent a part of their life at and dedicated to Dartmouth, and want to spread its sense of community across the world. These are people who have had the Dartmouth experience first-hand, and want to assess if this college would be a good fit for you as the person you are.
Not being yourself or trying to be someone you are not cannot help you, for two reasons. Firstly, inauthenticity is easy to spot, even on a Zoom camera if your interview is online, and could leave a bad impression on anyone, not just an interviewer. Secondly, you are presenting a version of yourself that you want someone to see, not who you truly are, meaning that they cannot critically assess if you and Dartmouth would mesh well together.
The long and the short of it is — be yourself, don't stress out if you can't get an interview, and don't stress out if you do get an interview! You are getting a chance to peak behind the curtain of Dartmouth, with someone who's willing to guide you along the way.
All the best!
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