The email comes. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. Well kind of. It’s not the admissions decision just yet. It’s an email from the alumni interviewer asking if you would like to set up an interview. This means something, right? Not really. It means you applied to their alma mater, and that’s about it.
Large universities tend to offer alumni interviews in your local area. These opportunities are similar to on-campus interviews at small liberal arts colleges conducted by staff members, but they typically don’t carry as much weight. Alumni interviews usually have nothing to do with how competitive you are in a particular applicant pool. It’s not like some scholarship programs that only offer interviews to certain competitive candidates. When you apply to a large university, you might have a chance to interview. It’s important to know what this interview means to the admissions process. It’s not something that should be dismissed. But it’s also not usually the reason you get admitted to a large university.
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In the end, alumni interviews are not typically the “make or break” piece of the application. Yet, students are still expected to interview if given the chance. If you want the interview to count more, consider small liberal arts colleges. In the meantime, respond affirmatively to the request for the alumni interview. It’s part of the process, but not nearly as important as the required pieces of the application.