Oct. 30, 2020
I have a question about alumni interviews. I applied test-optional and I have two alumni interviews scheduled. Do alumni interviewers ask about test scores, or will they ask what my scores were, since I chose not to disclose them on applications? Or do they not even know that I applied test-optional?
If they ask, should I tell the truth (that my scores were low) or should I say I didn't have a chance to take the tests?
In theory, your alumni interviewers will not ask about your testing history or scores. The main goal of these sessions is to find out more about you that won't be on your applications. BUT ... over the eons, "The Dean" has learned of some (albeit few) alum interviewers who went way off of the "script," and asked questions that would appall the real admission officials, if they knew. For instance, I once heard about an elderly grad of a formerly all-men's university who complained about his alma mater's decision to accept women (which had been several decades earlier) and then asked his female interviewee, "How can you expect to keep up with young men in math and science?" And then there was the recent alum of an Ivy League school, still couch-surfing in his old frat house, who asked an applicant, also female, "Do you like to party?"
So your best bet is to assume that your interviews won't include mentions of testing, but be prepared anyway, in case they do. Don't lie outright about your testing history or scores, but you should be safe (and honest) if you say something like, "My testing plans were torpedoed by the COVID pandemic so I am applying test-optional." Should the alum persist and ask if you were able to test at all, you can continue with, "Due to canceled test dates and adverse conditions, I was able to test once but was not able to test again and will be applying without submitting scores."
If necessary, you ought to able to wheedle out of more of these questions by posing one of your own. Try something like, "Since many seniors will be applying this year without test scores, how do you think admission officials will adjust the decision-making process?" Or, "Aside from changing testing policies, how else has COVID affected admissions?"
Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at email@example.com.
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