What is a CAAAN Contact?

Many of Cornell’s first-year applicants will be contacted by a volunteer in their area. Kyle Downey, Associate Director of Admissions, shares information about the contact process and what you can expect.


Kyle Downey
Kyle Downey

An adopted member of the Cornell family, I’m a huge fan of CU hockey (both men’s and women’s) – Go Big Red!  When I’m not at the hockey rink I love to enjoy the natural beauty and outdoorsy things the Ithaca area has to offer – boating, hiking, swimming, biking, fishing, and just taking in the sights.  This is truly one of the most beautiful regions in the entire country! When I’m actually indoors, I work here in the admissions office and coordinate the activities of Cornell’s alumni admissions ambassadors.

Each year, the Cornell admissions community receives many inquiries from first-year applicants requesting an “interview.”  Fact is, only Cornell’s first-year applicants for the Hotel Administration and Architecture majors have actual interviews (they are required of these candidates).  None of our other candidates will have the opportunity for a true interview because we simply have too many applicants (36,000+) to meet the demand and we want to be as equitable as possible during the admissions process.

What can we offer to those applicants interested in an “interview”?  Well, we have more than 9,000 alumni in the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) who meet with more than 19,000 applicants each year. CAAAN contacts are not interviews.  Instead, they are optional, informal conversations that allow students to ask questions, become acquainted with another perspective on the university, and provide additional information about themselves.

Since the number of requests for contacts is so staggering, we don’t make notes of who wants a contact or otherwise intervene in the CAAAN contact process – it is completely automated on our end.  After a student submits the Common Application and fee, the local CAAAN chair receives the applicant’s information electronically and then assigns the applicant to a volunteer for contact.

Here are some additional tidbits about CAAAN contacts:

  • contacts are informational, not evaluative
  • CAAAN members submit informational reports if there is new information to add to the application
  • contacts are completely initiated by alumni – students cannot arrange a meeting
  • we only reach about 50-60% of applicants because of limitations caused by geography, timing, presence of alumni, and applicant volume
  • students’ applications will not be negatively impacted if they are not contacted

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