When you volunteer with the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC), you represent our school throughout the world by interviewing applicants wherever you live, representing Columbia at local college fairs and hosting regional programs for admitted students. You also assist the admissions team by providing key insights.
Why join ARC?
ARC members are vital to Columbia's efforts to reach students interested in learning more about undergraduate life, especially in areas of the world that admissions officers cannot visit.
Interview reports submitted by ARC members play a critical role in our application review process and support a holistic evaluation of applicants.
Applicants might receive multiple admission offers, but those who receive an interview with Columbia are more likely to choose it. Core classes, late nights on Low steps, exploring NYC... your unique perspective can make a valuable impression, as well as make a difference for the College's future.
How much time is involved?
An interview takes 30–45 minutes. Volunteers can interview as few or as many students as they like. They may request interviews from their hometown, current residence or other regions, doing them in person or via Skype. Volunteers are also welcome to be representatives at local college fairs and/or as hosts for welcome receptions, in partnership with Admissions and Alumni Relations staff.
Does the interview need to be in person?
No. There are three options:
- Face-to-Face: Interviewers meet a student at a predetermined date, time and location.
- Telephone: Alumni may arrange phone interviews with applicants in regions where there are not many ARC members, as well as with local applicants, as this method may ease the scheduling process and avoid transportation costs or difficulties.
- Video Chat: Similar to the above note on telephone interviews, alumni may also arrange video interviews with applicants using services such as Skype, FaceTime and Google Talk.
What are some best practices for the interview?
One of the most important things to keep in mind that is you are interviewing a high school senior who may not have prior interviewing experience. It’s helpful to create a relaxed and mutually enjoyable conversation that explores the applicant’s interests. You're encouraged to share your experience about Columbia and New York City.
It is highly recommended to keep the interview 30–45 minutes. If travel will take more than 90 minutes each way, conducting the interview by phone or video chat is preferred.
What should I ask in the interview?
Your input will be most useful if you focus on items not listed on the application. For example, you can ask about what kind of books the applicant reads or the extracurricular activities s/he would like to do outside of school. Since the Admissions Office already has access to the test scores, grades, essays and teacher recommendations, you should not discuss these with the applicant.
You should also talk about your experience at the school and in Morningside Heights, especially if the applicant you are interviewing is outside of New York City.
What should I tell the applicant about Columbia?
Aside from sharing your own experience as a student and an alumnus/a with the applicant, it is helpful for alumni interviewers to stay up to date with all the exciting things happening at Columbia.
You can see what’s new on the Columbia Undergraduate Admissions website, check out the calendar for events on campus and around the world, and stay connected to our network with updates on Facebook from the Columbia College Alumni Association and Columbia Engineering Alumni Association.
When should I submit my interview report?
As soon as possible, preferably right after the interview while everything’s still fresh in your mind. It’s recommended to draft your text in a word processing program and then copy and paste it into the ARC platform. The deadline for interview reports submission for Regular Decision cycle is March 1.
When does the admissions team access my report?
Once you submit your interview report, it is included in the applicant’s application and the admissions team has access to it. Because an application has multiple touch points throughout the cycle, it is recommended that you conduct your interviews as soon as possible and submit your report in a timely manner to ensure the admissions officers have access to it.
Am I allowed to interview applicants I may know?
No, you should not be interviewing an applicant whom you know. If you are assigned an applicant and you realize you know the applicant, please decline the interview immediately so the applicant can be released back to the pool.
You also cannot interview this cycle if your child is applying to Columbia College or Engineering this admissions cycle, and you cannot interview at all if you are an independent college counselor, an admissions officer at another institution or a for-profit college preparation consultant or you also interview undergraduate applicants for another college/university.
Can I look up applicants on Facebook?
As per our Agreement of Understanding on the ARC website, ARC members agree to not search for an applicant online via Google or other search method, and to not search for an applicant on Facebook or other social media outlet. Admissions officers only use information provided in the submitted application and are restricted from this additional research on applicants. This restriction extends to ARC members, too.
Please be aware that applicants may search for their interviewers online, so keep this in mind.
In addition to the Undergraduate Admissions website, the ARC website also contains a guide for new volunteers, including PowerPoint presentations, videos, interview tips, examples of effective interview reports and other opportunities for ARC members to support Columbia. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions also travels the world each fall, hosting in-person training receptions.