Each year, for about a month, I spend a great deal of time meeting teenagers for coffee. For many years, including last year in England, I’ve served in the Alumni Admissions Program for my alma mater. The school offers each applicant the opportunity to meet with an alumnus for a non-mandatory interview.
Spending 30 minutes or so with these young people is a joy. I have heard of interviewers for other schools who take a more intimidating approach than I – even a few who have asked for follow up essays from the interviewees – perhaps to see how the student reacts under pressure. For me, and based on what my alma mater has asked of us, the chat presents an opportunity for me, and thereby for the school, to get a more multidimensional, personal picture than the common application alone provides. I do not have resumes, transcripts, or test scores in advance, and that is as it should be. The admissions committee can deal with all that paper. It allows me to see each individual as a person rather than a set of numbers or a carefully crafted essay.
I approach each meeting with an abundance of positivity. I want to like every student and have them each love my college, as I did and do. I represent the school and so want to be as favorable an ambassador as possible. I hope to assuage, even if just for a few moments, the angst they must all feel as they go through this process, which started with PSATs, if not earlier.
The fact is, they are some of the most delightful, engaged, accomplished people I talk to in any given month. I wish each and every one of them well and hope they all get into the school that best fits their needs and personalities – whether or not it’s my alma mater – and will allow them to grow into their best adult selves.
I’m delighted to welcome those who have gone on to attend the college and have kept in touch with some as they make their way through the school and beyond. It’s a privilege to be even a small part of their journey.