Alumni Conversations

An Alumni Conversation is a two-way exchange between you and a Penn alumni volunteer. It’s just that, a conversation—nothing to be nervous about. Relax and be yourself! This is an opportunity for Penn to learn a little more about you, and for you to learn a little more about Penn through hearing the experience of a proud alum. 

Program Update: For the accessibility, convenience, and safety of our prospective students and our Penn alumni volunteers, conversations will occur virtually for the 2023-2024 application cycle. 

  • Student applications are not pre-screened or sorted. Applicants are matched solely on availability of our alumni volunteers. Not all applicants will be invited for conversations but this is solely due to availability—not receiving an invitation has no bearing on your application and is not a reflection of how we have viewed your application so far! 
  • It is our policy that applicants cannot request a conversation with an alum. Please don't worry if you're not contacted for this opportunity. Since the availability of our volunteers is limited, we aren't always able to reach every applicant. Therefore, your application will not be viewed negatively if you aren’t offered a conversation with an alum. 
  • These conversations are offered to first-year applicants only. Transfer applicants will not be matched with an alumni volunteer for a conversation.  
  • Our alumni aren’t admissions officers, and they will not see any part of your application. They will only receive your name and contact information to contact you directly. All Penn alumni volunteers receive thorough training to ensure you have a positive experience. 
  • If you are matched with an alum, we strongly encourage you to make time for the conversation. If you must decline the opportunity, please follow up directly with the alum to let them know that you are declining the offer. 

If you have any questions about the above information or your conversation with an alum, please contact Penn Admissions. Be sure to follow up directly with the alumni volunteer when appropriate. 

Alumni Volunteers will contact you directly via phone or email to set up a time to meet virtually. Please be patient and understand that this opportunity is likely for most applicants, but not guaranteed for all applicants due to limited alumni volunteer availability and capacity.  Alumni conversations are not available by request. 

Depending on when you apply, your conversation will be scheduled within the following timelines:  

  • Early Decision applicants: mid-October through end of November 
  • Regular Decision applicants: December through February 
  • Questbridge Finalists: November 

Respond to the request from your alumni volunteer. We suggest that you frequently check the email address provided in your application, as this is the method that is most likely to be used to contact you. Alumni may also contact you through the phone number listed in your application. Please respond courteously and promptly (within 3-5 days). Remember first impressions count, and this exchange is the start of the conversation. If alumni volunteers don’t receive a prompt response from you, they might assume you are not interested in connecting with them. 

Resist the urge to research your assigned alumni volunteer before you meet. We know you’ll be tempted to research the alumni volunteer before you meet, but please don’t. For the same reasons we ask alumni not to look up Penn applicants online, we ask that you refrain from researching your alumni volunteer using internet searches or connecting with them through social media. This conversation is designed to be an opportunity to connect two interested (and interesting) but previously unknown individuals. 

Where to Go 

Conversations will be conducted using Zoom, Google Chat, other similar chat software, or by phone. If possible, please try to find a quiet place with stable internet connection or good phone reception to limit distractions or disruptions. 

What to Wear 

Dress as you would for a school photograph or a presentation in class. Be comfortable and let your personal style show through so you can focus on the conversation, not what you’re wearing. 

What to Bring 

Just yourself—and any questions you may have for an alum. You may want to take some notes during the conversation for your own record. Please don’t bring or send a resume or a portfolio. Your passions, personal story, and questions are what bring the conversation to life. (Note that international applicants may be asked to bring or send additional documents.) 

This is an opportunity for you to share information about yourself in your own words. Alumni conversations are not a test, and alumni are not evaluating your candidacy for Penn. The conversation will focus on your interests, as well as your decision to apply to Penn. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about Penn from a proud alum. 

These are the type of questions your interviewer may ask: 

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? 
  • What’s important to you? 
  • What are your current academic and/or extracurricular interests? 
  • What led you to apply to Penn? 
  • What classes, programs, and activities on Penn’s campus are exciting to you? 
  • What plans do you have for your future? 

As this is a two-way conversation, you will also have time to ask questions. Make the most of this opportunity by thinking about your questions beforehand. Write them down and bring them with you if it makes you more comfortable. Penn is a dynamic and ever-changing university, so your Penn alumni volunteer may not be an expert on campus life as it is today, but their experience will offer you valuable perspective about life after Penn and even provide insights on career pathways. 

As you prepare your own questions, consider including the following questions for your list: 

  • Can you tell me about the most influential parts of your Penn experience? 
  • How did attending Penn affect your life? 
  • What is one of your favorite Penn traditions? 
  • In what ways are you still connected to campus and your Penn peers? 
  • What are the advantages of the Penn alumni network? 

We hope you had a great conversation and learned a lot more about Penn from the experience. 

After your conversation, a quick thank-you note is always appreciated. Beyond expressing your gratitude, no further contact with the volunteer is necessary or expected. 

The alum you spoke with will submit a summary of your discussion to the Admissions Committee, to be added to your application so that Penn Admissions can get to know you better. 

If you have any questions about your alumni conversation experience, please contact Penn Admissions.