While thousands of Georgetown hopefuls finalize their applications, over 5,000 members of the Alumni Ambassadors Program are gearing up to interview prospective members of the class of 2016.
“The interview adds another layer to the application and gives us a bit more insight into the applicant,” said Colleen Miltenberg, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and one of the program’s coordinators.
AAP, founded in 1964 with fewer than 400 interviewers, now includes members from all 50 states, ranging from six in Wyoming to the multitudes in the D.C. area.
Since its inception, the program has grown to become an integral part of Georgetown’s admissions process. In its founding year, AAP’s members interviewed 32 percent of the total applicant pool. But last admissions cycle, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, alumni interviewed more than 90 percent of applicants. AAP expects to match that number this year.
Robert Adelberg (C ’59), who has been involved with AAP interviewing since its inception, said that the program’s growth has not diminished its core mission — to bring the best students to the university.
“That was the way we, as alumni, could give back in the finest measure,” he said of the group’s founding. “We were picking the next generation to succeed us at Georgetown.”
Since joining the program, he has interviewed at least four applicants a year. In some seasons, his interviews number in the dozens.
MAKING THE CUT
According to Miltenberg, the AAP keeps alumni involved with their alma mater while fulfilling the university’s need for admissions interviewers.
“The AAP gives alumni a chance to stay connected to their communities, to local high schools and to us,” she said.
Most alumni who express interest in interviewing are assigned to a local chair. In regions with many more applications than interviewers, the admissions office actively seeks out alumni who can interview.
While Miltenberg said that no official criteria are used for selecting interviewers, undergraduate alumni are preferred over those who earned graduate degrees at Georgetown.
Interviewers are organized into 170 domestic and over 50 international committees. In the United States, committees are organized by geographic location and population. If the university receives many applications from a certain region, the AAP may create several committees in that area. In other locations, such as North Dakota and Wyoming, a single committee may serve the entire state.
Though Miltenberg could not provide the exact number of interviewers in each committee, she said that those in New York and Washington, D.C., are the largest, due to Georgetown’s high concentration of alumni in those regions.
She said the AAP committees in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, Princeton, NJ., South Orange County, Calif. and San Jose, Calif., completed the largest number of interviews last year with over 240 applicants apiece.
Of all the international committees, the groups serving Great Britain and China interviewed the most prospective students in the Class of 2015 cycle.
HOYAS THROUGH AND THROUGH
AAP members span a broad range of age and experience: Some are well-established members of local communities and hold senior-level jobs in business, law or medicine, while others, like Elizabeth Griffin (COL ’05), are more recent graduates who wish to maintain their ties with the Hilltop.
After moving from Georgetown to Syracuse, N.Y., Griffin signed up for the program online when she heard last year that the committee in her region needed more interviewers.
“It’s definitely a great way to stay connected to your alma matter and talk to young people,” she said.
As a new member, Griffin said that she was required to attend an informal training session, where she was given sample questions to ask and informed of new programs on campus that she could discuss with applicants.
Kyle Pietrantonio (COL ’03) is entering his seventh season as an alumni interviewer in Atlanta. He plans to meet between five and seven applicants during this cycle.
According to Pietrantonio, the OA’s regional liaison for his area, Lia Glavin, visited the Atlanta committee to update them on changes to the admissions process and to review last year’s admissions results.
Pietrantonio said that the university’s support for AAP has grown since he first joined the organization.
“I would say that the level of support and guidance from the admissions office has improved,” he said, adding that the process is faster now that interviewers are authorized to submit reports over the Internet.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INTERVIEW
Kimberly Snow (COL ’77), co-director of the Orlando, Fla. committee, said that members do not use a set script or list of questions when conducting interviews.
“We’re not really given any [detailed] training. They just showed you a couple sample interviews, and that was it,” she said. “You really had to mold your own way of interviewing from there, and some interviewers are better than others.”
Snow, who has been an AAP member for almost 30 years, said that interviewing is not as easy as it might seem.
“It’s particularly difficult here in the South, because not many people get accepted,” she said. “I have interviewers in my committee who have been working for 15 or 20 years and have not had one of their applicants get into Georgetown. It’s very frustrating for them.”
For many alumni, like Shana Bynon (SFS ’93), this frustration is eclipsed by a sense of service and commitment to the university.
“I find it pretty rewarding, doing the interviews,” she said. “I really enjoy being connected to campus through the applicants every year.”
Bynon, who volunteers for the Baltimore committee, said the five to seven interviews that she completes a year allow her to promote the university’s ideals.
“I remember my alumni interview. It was one of the things I really liked about applying to Georgetown,” she said.
After 45 years of interviews, Adelberg said that he still finds the process to be incredibly enriching.
“If you believe in what your school stands for, it’s the finest form of salesmanship for the next generation that comes along,” he said.