Coffee house in west Philly with two students having coffee

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.

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 academic year.

Penn Alumni Conversations

Each year Penn attempts to connect as many applicants as possible with alumni, depending on volunteer availability. We foster these connections to provide an opportunity for you to learn about Penn through an alum’s experience, and for us to learn more about you as an individual.

Things to remember:

  • 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, this does not include transfer applicants.
  • For the 2023-2024 Application, all Alumni Conversations will be held virtually.
  • 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.
  • Student Applications are not pre-screened or sorted. Applicants are matched solely on availability of our alumni volunteers.
  • 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 concerns 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.

Initial Contact

Initial contact will be initiated by Alumni Volunteers according to this timeline:

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

Alumni conversations are not available by request.

Please be patient and understand that this opportunity is likely, but not guaranteed.

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, 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.

We know you’ll be tempted to research the alumni volunteer. Please don’t. In the same way that 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.

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. Please don’t bring 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 additional documents.)

Alumni conversations are not a test. This is an opportunity for you to share information about yourself in your own words. 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 the University.

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 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 options.

As you prepare your own questions, consider including the following Penn-specific questions on 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?

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.