Emory Report
October 22, 2007
Volume 60, Number 8

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October 22, 2007
Alumni Interview program poised for great beginning

By eric rangus

When Felicia Ross ’94C and Keith Brin ’94C–’95PH first heard about Emory’s new Alumni Interviewing Program, they knew they wanted to get involved.

“Emory has given me so much; it’s about time I gave something back,” said Ross, who now lives in the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove.

“If our involvement with Alumni Interviewing creates just one connection between a prospective student and Emory, we will have been successful,” said Brin, a resident of Highland Park, Ill.

Though they graduated the same year, Ross and Brin did not know one another as students. As alumni, they’re getting to know each other very well. They are the local co-chairs of Emory’s Alumni Interviewing pilot program, which is launching in Chicago this fall.

The Alumni Interviewing program is a partnership between the Emory Alumni Association and the Emory and Oxford Offices of Undergraduate Admission. Many elite universities include interviews with alumni as part of their admissions process. Emory never had — at least until earlier this year when a two-year pilot project was approved to try out alumni interviewing in select markets.

Chicago, the largest city in an area of the country where Emory is not well known (the Midwest), but home to a growing number of Emory families (more than 1,500 alumni reside in the Chicago area) and an increasing number of applicants, made for an ideal market.

Starting in late summer, the EAA began its marketing efforts to get alumni involved. So far, response has been outstanding. More than 90 Chicago-area alumni have signed up to be interviewers, and that number increases every week. Several training sessions have been held over the past couple months, and the first interview sessions will take place Saturday, Oct. 27. Three more will follow, wrapping up in early February.
The most recent training session, held Sept. 26 in tandem with Destinations: Chicago, the EAA’s distinguished speaker series featuring President Jim Wagner, was so popular that the alumni in attendance barely fit in the meeting room.

Following the training session, which drew more than 40 interested alumni, the entire Emory community in Chicago was treated to Wagner’s speech, “Impact: Making a Positive Difference,” which broadly covered the impact universities have on the world.

“Admissions processes for universities are a bit different than what your parents went through and definitely from what your grandparents went though,” Wagner told the full Chicago crowd of 150. “The process is now focused on establishing how well students match to the University for success.”

One way of gauging that match is through Alumni Interviewing. The interviews will be straightforward. Prospective students will sit down with an alumnus for 30 to 40 minutes and just have a conversation.
What do you know about Emory? What academic courses most interest you? What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve ever done for another person? These are just samples of suggested questions — there is no exact format.

Following the interview, alumni are asked to fill out a form summarizing the candidate and listing their impressions. The interviews are not necessarily make-or-break parts of an application. They merely represent additional information Emory admission counselors can rely on when selecting new students.

“The alumni who have volunteered have been extremely engaged,” said Adrian Tonge, director of volunteer programs with the EAA. Tonge and Ronnie McKnight, senior associate dean in the Emory College Office of Admission, are the training leads for Alumni Interviewing and have been the front men in the University’s efforts to get the program rolling.

“They’re active in our training sessions,” Tonge continued. “Alumni volunteers ask good questions; they want to represent Emory as best they can, and they want to help Emory attract the best new students. The Class of 2012 will be following in their footsteps.”

Even before the final session in Chicago is over, initial communications will be sent to the cities participating in the second year of the pilot, Houston and San Francisco. Following the second year, it will be determined whether Alumni Interviewing will be rolled out worldwide.