Sep 6, 2010
Scheduling Your Interview
Posted in: Freshman Applicants
Time has been flying by for me this summer and it's somewhat hard to believe that it is that time again. Yes, it's time to talk about setting up an interview with one of our wonderful alumni/ae volunteers, the deadlines, and some other stuff too.
In case you are just "tuning in," we do things a bit differently at MIT when it comes to interviews. Some schools have their volunteers contact you, but we don't. Instead we give you access to your Educational Counselor's (EC’s) contact information through your MyMIT account in the year you are applying and it is up to you to contact your EC via email or by phone, whichever he or she has listed for your use. Students each year ask when they should contact their EC and if they don't hear back, when they should contact them again. Well, here is the full story; hopefully this post will help you navigate the interview process more easily.
If you are applying Early Action, the deadline will be here sooner than you think. The stated deadline to contact your interviewer is October 20th. I recommend you try to have had your interview by that time as well since the EC will need to submit the report on your conversation by November 1 so not waiting until the last minute to contact them is a really good idea. In fact, the “ideal” time frame would be from September 7 to about October 15th. …Yes, that's basically right now....
For Regular Action, you have a bit more time since the deadline to contact your EC is December 10. We try to get all interviews completed by the 20th to give the ECs time to submit their reports on January 6 and still enjoy the end of the year without the pressure of interview reports to complete. Since ECs are pretty busy through October with interviews for Early Action applicants the "ideal" time to contact your EC for a regular action interview is November 3 to November 24th.
When you contact your EC there are some things you can do to make life easier for both of you. If you email your EC, put in the subject of your message that you are contacting them for an interview and give them your full name in the text of your email. If you are calling them and end up leaving a message make sure to leave your full name and a contact number on the message but above all speak clearly and slowly. You'd be amazed how fast people can rattle off phone numbers. So much so, it can take multiple tries to actually get the whole thing...don't let that be you :-) It's also helpful if you indicate whether you need an interview for Early Action or Regular Action. Some ECs will try to get all of their Early Action interviews done first, so if they ask you to wait a bit it's probably an effort to plan their schedules to insure everyone gets a fair chance.
Another issue that pops up is what you should do if you are applying Early Decision or Single-Choice Early Action to another school. Having an interview with an EC may not violate these early agreements, as having an interview alone does not make you an applicant to MIT. We recommend that you check with your early admission school for their own rules, just to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that it can be frustrating for an EC to do an interview with you and submit a report only to find out you didn't end up applying since you were admitted elsewhere early as they will generally spend 4-6 hours on each student they interview between the interview and writing the report. It's okay to contact your EC and suggest you schedule the interview for after the time when you will find out whether you got in early somewhere else. If you don't get in to the other school you can then have the interview as scheduled. If you do get in to the other school, just let your EC know that you won't be needing the interview after all. They will congratulate you on your good fortune but spend that time interviewing another applicant.
So what should you do if you don't hear back from your EC? First thing, be patient for a couple of days. ECs are volunteers and have lives and jobs so they may not spend as much time answering email as you do. If you haven't heard anything in three or four days it's fine to contact them again and you should. If you still don't hear back let the EC Office know by sending an email to email@example.com. We'll either let you know that your EC is away and will be in touch shortly or assign you to someone else. Give us a few days too as we get really busy this time of year helping students just like you get their interview.
The last question that comes up year after year is what to do if you miss the deadline. Obviously you don't want to do that, and if you're reading this you won't, right :-) But in case you do, it's still okay to contact your EC and see if they are able to meet with you. They may not have the time to interview you if you have missed the deadline, but it doesn't hurt to ask if you had a good reason, and many ECs will fit you in if they can. As I said, they are really nice people!!
Well, I think that pretty much covers the most frequently asked questions each year about interviews. I'll continue to talk about interviews throughout the fall but contacting your ECs before the deadline will go a long way in making this process easier...I promise!!