By Madeleine Thompson
This year, the number of Kenyon applicants requesting off-campus alumni interviews skyrocketed from 300 to more than 900. Alumni interviews are an option for students who want to make a personal connection with Kenyon but are not able to visit campus. “Interviews seem to have blown up,” Director of Admissions Darryl Uy said. “But here on campus, we’re still offering the same amount of interviews as usual.”
Coordinator of Alumni Admissions Volunteers Alice Straus suspects this influx is largely due to the loss of the application supplement. “I think the main reason this year probably is that we don’t require the Kenyon supplement anymore, so it’s much easier for students to apply,” Straus said. “It may be that we’re hot and we don’t know why, John Green may have a lot to do with it, there may be programs that … appeal to a lot of kids.”
Interviews are not a requirement for admission, and students who don’t interview are “not at a disadvantage,” according to Uy. “Students who are savvy about the process know that since we don’t have a supplement, they should probably do an interview. They’re always saying, ‘I haven’t been able to get to campus, can I meet with you?’”
Students who request an alumni interview are matched up with an alumnus in their area by Straus, who still has 175 students to pair with an interviewer. “If I have 10 prospective students who have asked for an interview, ideally we would have found 10 individual alumni because that would get more alumni engaged,” Straus said. “Tripling the number that have been requested — it’s impossible to find 900 individual alumni. So what we’ve done is lean on alumni who have been helpful in the past, and instead of asking them to interview one or two students, we’ve had to ask them to interview six or eight.”
In order to handle the increase, Uy has several solutions. “One idea … is that we may ask [senior interviewers] to do domestic Skype interviews,” said Uy, who sent an email to admissions fellows earlier this week asking for volunteers to Skype applicants in the U.S.
Another possible solution is to hold “blitzes” in big cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago where prospective students would likely be able to meet with interviewers.
“They worked really well because we had a bunch of alums from those cities come to one office building on a Saturday and we interviewed a lot of kids,” Uy said. “This year, I don’t know why we didn’t do it. The first blitz that we had in New York City in November, a lot of the kids that interviewed applied but didn’t enroll. There was a larger conversion rate for earlier contact rather than later.”
Kristina Miklavic ’14, an admissions fellow who has interviewed international students, doesn’t see any problems with having senior interviewers do more domestic Skype interviews. “If the admissions office feels that … that’s a good resource for them, I don’t see why not,” Miklavic said. “Something is better than nothing.”
“If you ask my staff, they’re probably hoping [the rise in interview requests is] an anomaly, but I have a feeling it’s going to stay like this for now,” Uy said. “We may need more people in the office, but that’s a totally different story.”