The Schreyer Honors College is considering offering an interview option for applicants who want to connect to the college in a more interactive way.
The college has been running an optional pilot interview program since 2011 in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., where a little fewer than 200 applicants participated. Schreyer added Philadelphia and New York to its trial run this past year, where the number of participating applicants more than doubled.
Students from these areas have had the chance to sit down with Schreyer alumni and talk about their goals and plans in college and beyond, Michele Kirsch, associate dean for student affairs, said.
Kirsch said an interview displays students’ interpersonal skills and leadership ability more effectively than a paper application can.
The college’s external advisory board will meet in April or May to come to a final decision on whether an interview will be added to the application process. If adopted, the interview will remain optional, Kirsch said.
Some freshmen students who have gone through the interview process have reacted positively to the experience.
“The interview gave me a lot of confidence,” John Connolly said.
Connolly (freshman-chemical engineering) said his interview felt “very comfortable and casual.” He discussed his intended major, career goals and what he expected out of his four years at Penn State. He said the interview process not only connected him with alumni, but with other future Schreyer students.
Connolly got to know other applicants in the waiting area on the day of the interview; they exchanged emails, and now he considers two of the students he met good friends, he said. Now that he is a student at Schreyer, Connolly said he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for college.
Natalie Nash was one of the students Connolly met during the interview process last winter, and she said she looked forward to the benefits an interview provided.
“I was excited to express to them who I am in a more personal way,” Nash (freshman-engineering) said.
Because Nash felt as though she was able to obtain more information on the Schreyer experience, she said she would recommend the interview to any applicant.
The interview was also a welcomed opportunity for Pavara Ranatunga. An interview gives students the opportunity to show certain strengths that might not otherwise come across on a paper application, he said. Ranatunga (freshman-engineering) added that Schreyer should consider implementing an interview into the application process because of how helpful the experience was for him.
“The opportunities I’m getting here are fantastic. I feel really grateful to be in this program,” Ranatunga said.
Schreyer’s external advisory board, made up of alumni, friends and donors, suggested the pilot interview program, Kirsch said. The board saw a need to reach out to applicants in a new, efficient way.
Anthony Shelton was asked by Kirsch to be a part of the task force that would implement the pilot interview in its early stages. Shelton (senior-finance) said he was on the task force to give suggestions on what he thought students felt was important during an interview. He said the three main objectives of the interviews are to allow alumni to assess interpersonal skills of the applicant, to engage alumni in the process of student applications and to advertise the program by connecting applicants with alumni.
Kirsch said the external advisory board did research by looking at schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and Stanford University and talked to their admissions offices to get an opinion on what works in an application interview. She said Schreyer hasn’t modeled its interview process after any school in particular, but has created something that is unique to its program.