Interviewing the interviewers

Conferences to keep alumni informed are taking place across the country (marked) by paw prints.

Conferences to keep alumni informed are taking place across the country (marked) by paw prints.

Photo by Ben Brown ‘14 | The Lafayette

The Admissions Senior Interviewer program is currently in its third year, and going strongly. Dean MacDonald instituted the program during the 2011-12 academic year in order to expand Lafayette’s capacity to offer on campus interviews to prospective applicants, and so far the program has led to more high school students having the opportunity to express themselves in person to a peer, as well to some interesting stories.

“I think the weirdest thing that has happened during an interview was when one student played the bagpipes for me,” said Catey Condit ‘14. “He brought in this large, black box and started talking about his love for music while assembling this huge instrument. I didn’t want to interrupt him while he was talking, but before I knew it he was playing the bagpipes in the admissions office. I’m pretty sure everyone in Markle could hear him and I had no idea how to react. He definitely made a lasting impression!“

Interviewer Megan Goodman reflected, “It’s surprising how much kids open up to you.” Katie Whitaker agreed, chiming in about how once an interviewee told her about having a rare blood disease and overcoming it. The two bonded about trips to the emergency room.

While opening up and being yourself is a good thing when it comes to the college interview process, there is such a thing as sharing too much. An example? Telling stories about suspensions, which have actually been voluntarily shared. Similarly, while it is fine to be emotional there have been incidents of excessive crying.

However, according to interviewer Rachel Kutz, overall the students are “highly professional and articulate with unique hobbies and interests.” She noted a potential student who had gone to Russia with the State Department and had a lot to say about the differences between our culture and theirs. Another prospective wrote an entire honors thesis on Alice in Wonderland, which led to some interesting and passionate discussion.

Goodman once interviewed a girl who was able to spend her entire senior year of high school travelling around the globe via the Discovery Channel and Whitaker told a humbling story about a young girl who escaped from Burma by hiding in Malaysia before getting sponsored by a church to come to America—despite not speaking English. “It made me super emotional and made me wonder how I was able to end up here at Lafayette, and wanted me to make sure the girl ended up here as well.”

Overall, the Senior Interviewers have found being involved in the program to be a very gratifying, and beneficial to them as well as benefitting the high school students. Madeline Gambino ‘14 stated that she loved having the chance “to learn about subjects as varied as kickline teams, kelp farming, DJing and mixing, Sea Scouts, badminton, and robotics.”

Sabbir Siddiqui ‘13, now a programmer analyst for SMC Partners LLC, stated, “The most rewarding part for me was being able to share my college experiences and connecting with the future students of Lafayette, and knowing I made an impact on their decision in some cases. Another great thing about this experience was it helped me be more articulate, and improve my professional interviewing skills. Senior year I interviewed for a bunch of companies, and I wasn’t at all nervous, unlike the year before.”