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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College Interview Tips/explaining ballet training


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Daughter received a letter in mail a couple weeks ago from a college she'd applied to. The letter strongly suggested she attend an interview with an alum. from the school. It was scheduled for today in a city a couple hours away.


Because the letter stated that this interview would be used by the admissions as a way to better understand the student, it seemed important. However, it completely contradicted the information given by the school admissions dept. themselves when we visited the campus this past summer. They discouraged interviews, stating that they were to be used by the student as information gathering only and that the admissions dept. does not consider interviews when they are reviewing applicants.


Still, we thought we'd better head out to that interview.


Wish we never did. Daughter's interviewer simply didn't "get" her ballet commitment. He asked her what her activities were outside school. She described her ballet commitment in terms of hours and days. He then asked, "What sports do you do?" to which, of course, she replied, "none" because of her previously described ballet schedule. "None?" he asked incredulously. Then, "what clubs are you in?...NO CLUBS?"


Well, you get the gist of it.

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Guest balletmama

Vagansmom, not to worry unless she was applying to Harvard, which is, as far as I know, the only school that gives weight to its alumni interviews. I do interviews for my alma mater and have been told directly by a member of our admissions committee that our comments are the LEAST important element of the applicant's folder. If there is a very strong negative reaction by the interviewer, he said, they usually assume there was bad chemistry.


Most of the universities have alumni interviews because they want to a) spread goodwill (didn't quite work that way for your daughter!) and B) make the alumni feel important and part of campus life so that we will give money (doesn't work that way in my case! everything goes to ballet!).


The very best of luck to your daughter.

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What a disappointing experience!


If your daughter is truly interested in this college, she might consider writing a polite note to the admissions office expressing her dismay and hinting that this troglodyte ...er,interviewer ... diminished her interest in attending their fine institution.


While alumni interviewing seems logical on its face, my experiences interviewing for the Illustrious Institution mentioned above turned me off forever. Little training was provided, interviews are colored VERY much by the alum's age/background/life experience, applicant rankings within the geographical area are tainted by interviewer seniority in the local alumni club, and the alumni club views the whole endeavor very competitively -- they are not interested in the freshman class as a whole, but in seeing how many of "our" applicants get admitted.

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I so understand your experience and your frustration. When my daughter was applying to college, she experienced varying reactions to her ballet commitment. At some colleges, they interpreted it as her being unidimensional (not good) or committed to dance --but not to college work. At some, they viewed it positively and were quite intrigued. Despite her having written very careful essays explaining the time and commitment, as well as the dimensions it opened for her, some just didn't get it.


I guess this is part of the game. There are many right colleges, I have to believe. From my reading of your posts, it sounds like your daughter is a bright, talented young woman. The right people will recognize all of this.


My daughter will very probably encounter this challenge again soon. She is in the second year of an apprenticeship, and there are no openings for next year. Auditions, maybe something, maybe nothing ----and the college search again.


We are in this together!

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Guest samba38

The interview horror story that still lingers in my mind happened to my sister in the bad old days -- the days when wealthy prejudiced people could live in deed restricted neighborhoods where no blacks or Jews could purchase homes. Sure enough, her alumni interviewer lived in one of those neighborhoods. Poor sis. Revenge: She went to a state school, married the fellow she met freshman year, has an excellent job paying more than mine (despite my fancy U. degree) and sent her daughter through Yale.

In truth, though, don't sweat it. A friend of mine was an alumni interviewer for an Ivy League school. She tells me the only use for such interviews is for the student to try to convey some dimension of his/her life that wasn't covered in all the other paperwork. Fortunately for my kiddo, her first choice school required a personal interview with an admissions officer. She prepared for it by studying up on the school and thinking of ways to express why she's hung with dance through the most difficult times in her life. It worked for her -- at least for academic admission + a merit scholarship. Of course the auditions are still ahead.

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This thread has suddenly reminded me that my husband was an alumni interviewer for several years, for his own college. After discovering that the college consistently seemed to make its selections counter to his recommendations, he stopped doing the interviews. A neighbor's not being admitted despite my husband's glowing recommendation is what nailed it for him. This was a delightful young man with lots to offer.


That was the last straw; it soured my husband on the alumni interview process. Anyway, I would not put too much stock in that process.

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Guest MegsMom

Sounds like this interviewer needs some education on how the process works. Listening should be a skill readily utilized! Doesn't sound like he/she was listening to what your daughter was saying...might have heard her, but didn't truely listen. What a shame!


I think I would be tempted to write a letter and express my parental disappointment in the way the interview was handled. To have given such little regard for what is obviously very important to your daughter (and mine...we're a year behind you in this process) is unthinkable in this situation. The college involved should seriously reconsider this person as an interviewer. Unfortunately, the process colors your opinion of the institution; they should be aware of that.

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I wouldn't be tempted - I'd just do it! Few things hurt a college worse than a shot to the goodwill.

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Personally I think a phone call to the Admissions Office is preferable - anything in writing tends to take on a life of its own and survives long after the issue is resolved - but that's just me.


Most of the colleges my daughter applied to said the interview might help (a sign of interest, etc.) but would not ever be the basis for a deduction of any sort. Colleges don't want to get into subjective experiences like this - because of the kind of experience you had. College applications are tough on parents. Good luck from a fellow worrier!

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I echo Major Mel's thoughts. My husband and I both did alum interviews for our alma mater, and stopped for reasons similar to those expressed earlier. This interviewer sounds like he was greatly overestimating his importance in the process with his misguided challenges (um....did he miss the point about how much focus and hard work (physical and mental) is needed to achieve as a dancer). I encourage you to contact the admissions department--and a phone call might not work if you can't get to the "right" person. I probably would write the director of admissions...it really is a courtesy to them to do so...they probably don't want a rogue interviewer out there anyway!


Good luck!

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I have a few friends who have worked in admissions offices at various universities - they have all advised me that if an interview is absolutely required (it rarely is ) then take my child to the admissions office at that school for the interview. They strongly advise against alumni interviews for all the reasons above.

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Thanks all. I'm kicking myself about this one because the school itself had discouraged interviews when we visited it last summer. They stated that they don't require them and that they're not part of the admissions process. That was basically what nearly all the schools say, with only one notable exception on my daughter's list, Kenyon College with whom she did interview while we visited their campus. But because this other school didn't require it, she never interviewed.


So it's more than annoying now that the letter sent out to us stated fairly strongly that it is to the advantage of the student if s/he attended this interview because the admissions dept. WOULD use the interview as part of their decision. Oh well. I haven't decided what to do; I really don't want my first, and likely only, contact with the admissions dept. to be in the form of a complaint! I do realize, though, that even if they look at it, it will probably hold very little sway. I have a good friend who interviews for Brown and he says that they haven't yet accepted anyone he's recommended over the years, and they've accepted some students he held strong opinions against accepting.


To top it all off, when my daughter arrived, she was taken into a room to fill out a form. Several of the interviewers were sitting in this room talking. One was overheard to say, "Geez, after you do a couple interviews, they get really boring and repetitious." Guess which interviewer that was?

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Guest MegsMom

Geez, Vagansmom...the story only get worse doesn't it! Sounds like it was an unfortunate and unpleasant experience all the way around.


As I've mentioned previously, we're a year behind you in this process...is the general consensus to avoid alum interviews if at all possible? Doesn't sound like they hold much weight or offer much to the candidate...am I correct in that interpretation or is it more school specific?

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