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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
College Admissions Interview-the Icing or the Cake?
I've always wondered about the much hallowed college admission interview. If test scores and GPA are meant to be the objective markers for admission, then the interview-like the admission essay-is that portion of the process that should allow the student to showcase what makes them unique. What could be more subjective than an in-person interview? Yet schools have historically placed an incongruent sense of importance on the interview, if interviews are offered at all. This puzzles me.

Almost across the board, the admission interview is characterized as "supplemental". It is optional and in fact only offered in certain geographical areas. The colleges assure non-interviewing students not to fear-apparently "not having an interview will not be held against you" (this from Penn). Stanford promises that there are no adverse effects for students who don't interview and that their applications will still be considered in their entirety. Why then, does the interview process exist at all?

At most universities, 50-90% of the admissions interviews are conducted by specially trained alumni, and even current students. With many elite graduate programs only employing 6-10 full time admissions officers, this volunteer alumni corps certainly lightens the workload and the payroll, but begs many questions about objectivity. Perhaps objectivity isn't that important given that the interviews don't technically "matter" in the admissions process, but the fact that interviews are an option at all would seem to support the idea that they are not valueless in the admissions process.

At the business school level, Wharton has recently pink-slipped its alumni interviewers, citing a need for "consistency" in the interview process. Such moves further complicate assessment of the value of the interview, but seem to suggest that these in-person dialogues are much more than simple icing on the cake. For the full article: Wall Street Journal


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