I've been living in Southeast Asia since 1973. I conducted my first interview with a Singaporean student who was admitted and graduated as a member of the Class of ’79. I lived for many years in Jakarta, Indonesia, where a fellow alum and I conducted 20-30 interviews each per year. I’m now back in Singapore. Until the COVID lockdown and remote interviews, I volunteered to conduct 20 per year but am now down to 10 per year. (Getting old, LOL.)

Why do I do it? It is for an applicant who has opted for an interview. I do enjoy meeting bright, enthusiastic teens and garnering a glimpse of the “next” generation. There is only one student I gave a “poor” rating. He was a fascinating lad but his English comprehension would have placed an unfair burden on him, if he had been accepted. Most I rated as highly as I could and truly believed they would excel at Tigertown, contributing in their unique way to its environment. The result of all these interviews is six were accepted and of this group two declined to attend elsewhere. (My success rate dropped drastically after year one.) Am I offended, believing I have wasted my time? No. They asked for an interview and got one. Good or poor prospect, they were treated equally well.

For most. it is the first contact they have probably had with someone connected with Princeton. It is a human contact vs. the written forms that comprise most of their application. Many have interesting questions.

If there are 33,000 applicants for 1,800 spaces that is a hit rate of 5.5%. Yet, this does not mean that if you interview 200 candidates that 11 will get in. It is disheartening that one puts all his efforts into an interview, views the candidate as top notch, rates him highly, but he fails to get in. The admissions office has a thankless job and I think we all believe more qualified candidates are turned down than accepted. The applicants know the odds better than we do.

I tell all applicants I’m rooting for their acceptance but the odds are not in their favour. But, wherever they go, they will meet new people and make new friends. The quality of their education depends on their efforts — not the brick and mortar of a place in New Jersey.

If you feel you are wasting your time, do not be an interviewer. This is not a competition; you are not graded on numbers interviewed vs. accepted. The number you interview that get in vs. do not, does not make you a better or worse person, interviewer, etc.

We are all blessed by having attended Princeton. The applicants who do not get in will only have memories of and friends from where they attend. If they are as good as you say they are, they will do well wherever they go.

Peter M. Carver ’72