Alumni Admission Program Interviews Skip Navigation

Informational Interviews

For high school seniors, a personal interview can be one of the most influential elements in the college search process. Prospective students value the opportunity to speak with someone having firsthand information about Colgate.
Each interviewer brings unique experiences to the meeting. You will also be expected to go well beyond your own Colgate experience to best aid students in making informed decisions throughout their college searches.

At Colgate, informational interviews are not evaluative and they are not required for admission. Instead, it is an opportunity for the prospective student to ask questions and learn more detailed information about Colgate. We ask that you review our Colgate 13 Facts and Admission Information so that you will be able to discuss all of the aspects of Colgate: the various departments, events, clubs, and programs — some of which you may not have been involved with during your time on campus. The goal of the interview should be to engage each prospective student in a relaxed conversation about Colgate and help him or her start to understand how Colgate may align with his or her interests.

Interview Process

  • Students who request an alumni interview will be given the contact information for the Alumni Admission Program (AAP) chairperson in their area. If there is no regional chairperson, the request will be given to one of the committee members.  
  • The AAP chairperson is responsible for finding a committee member to contact the student and arrange for the interview.
  • When you are assigned an informational interview, please contact the student immediately. If you are unable to connect with the student, please notify the Office of Admission.
  • Offer to answer the student’s questions by arranging a personal interview. If you are unable to find a common time and place, a phone interview is acceptable.
  • If you agree to meet in person, make sure you choose a mutually agreed upon time and location that will be comfortable for the student.

Remember, interviews are non-evaluative, so you will not be asked to fill out any forms after your conversation with the prospective student. If you do have comments that you would like to share, please complete the online summary form.

Interview Tips

  • We recommend that you pick a public, casual location for the interview such as a coffee shop or a library.
  • Start with questions you know the student can respond to easily. You might explain to the student that you would like to get to know him or her a little better to address particular areas of interest. Questions about the student’s college search, favorite classes, or activities are good starters.
  • Be sensitive to personal differences in people. Some topics such as educational and family backgrounds may be sensitive areas for some to discuss. Feel free to inquire about a student’s hometown and high school environment.
  • Allow for relaxed silence.
  • Be flexible! Students will have different expectations of an interview and will have varied levels of preparedness. It is important to remain flexible throughout the interview.
  • Keep the conversation flowing. You must be prepared to change the subject and probe for other interests.
  • During the interview, be sure to stress the things that make Colgate unique—our core curriculum, variety of off-campus options, strong alumni network (YOU!), and the benefits we have as a hybrid between a large research institution and a small liberal arts college.
  • Be proactive. If a student mentions an interest in writing for his or her high school newspaper, don’t wait for him or her to ask about the Maroon-News at Colgate—offer up that information! The interview provides you an opportunity to help prospective students see what Colgate has to offer them.
  • Do not tell an applicant what his or her chances are of being admitted. Rather share the statistics from the past year—average GPA, SAT, ACT—let them decide where they might fall within the range. The class of 2016 profile can be found here.
  • Do not feel pressure to answer every question. None of us are experts in all aspects of Colgate’s academic and extracurricular offerings; if you do not know the answer to a prospective student’s question, you should tell the student that you don’t know and guide the student toward the website or recommend he or she call or e-mail the Office of Admission directly.

Sample Questions

Our goal for the informational interview is that you facilitate a conversation that flows naturally and leaves the student informed and with a positive impression of Colgate. We encourage you to discuss the student’s high school interests and experiences. We are confident that as an alumnus you will be well-equipped to talk about Colgate and share your personal experiences. Just in case, here are some sample questions that staff members use to break the ice and generate an insightful conversation with a student who might not be particularly talkative.
  • What are you looking for in a college?
  • How did you hear about Colgate?
  • What aspects of Colgate seem most appealing?
  • Tell me a little bit about your high school.
  • What do you enjoy most about your high school?
  • What classes are you taking your senior year? Which classes are your favorites?
  • How would your teachers describe you? How would your friends describe you?
  • Do you have a favorite teacher? What makes him or her your favorite?
  • Which extracurricular activities have you been involved with? What are your interests or hobbies?
  • Is there an activity or class that you would like to try in college that you have not participated in during high school?
  • Is studying off campus something you have thought about as part of your college experience? Is there a place you would like to go?
  • What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments?
  • Tell me about an interesting book you have read recently.
  • What has been one of your most rewarding assignments so far in high school?
  • Follow up questions about interests by asking: What got you interested in ... ?