Many Princeton applicants aren’t creative, says admissions interviewer

Getting into Princeton. The best Princeton interview ever. Problems with recommendation letters. How Princeton economics grads are recruited by big firms. In this week’s exclusive insider interview, Princeton admissions interviewer Dr. Maurice Ewing talks to SocratesPost about his views on elite college admissions, getting into Princeton, and what’s missing among those he interviews.

Exclusive Insider Interview: Admissions Interviewer, Princeton University

SocratesPost: Getting a Ph.D. from Princeton is a huge accomplishment. What was it like as a Ph.D. student at Princeton?

Maurice at Princeton: When you graduate from Princeton economics, you get this swarm of companies that are interested in interviewing you and because of the signal of going to one of these elite schools, they sidestep a lot of things. For example, my interview at Goldman Sachs was with one person, the chief economist, asking if I wanted to be his understudy.

At McKinsey, they must’ve chased me with 6-7 emails before I agreed to an interview. If I knew then what I knew now, I would’ve taken it much more seriously. I’m now in consulting, consulting in banks. It would’ve catalyzed my career if I worked with them early on.

I had a professor who was my mentor and that was a good thing, but it was a potentially bad thing because if you don’t have a program that exposes you to alternatives, then your frame of reference is just academics. I was getting advice from academics who said consultants are pseudo-economics — guys who aren’t that smart. They’re not real economists; they’re pseudo-economists. When you’re talking to someone impressionable, 20 or 21 years old, applying to grad school, thinking about a M.B.A. vs Ph.D. vs J.D., of course the academic knows the Ph.D. and everything else is below them.

SocratesPost: Now, you interview applicants for Princeton. What have you learned about applicants for Princeton through these interviews?

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Here’s a sneak peek at the rest of our conversation…

SocratesPost: Which Princeton interview stands out to you and why?

Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Maurice next week.

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