Stanford Admissions Process

Source: Stanford Magazine, Nov 2013

The Stanford admissions office is no longer a small group of officers discussing each applicant. In the last academic year, the University employed a staff of 52—dean, assistant deans, admissions officers and part-time readers—to cull through all those applications, each of which includes several essays, recommendations and a transcript. That averages to slightly more than 746 applications per reader. Officers are responsible for territories defined by state boundaries, countries or zip codes. (Los Angeles, for example, has five admissions officers dedicated to it, in addition to officers working in Ventura and Orange counties.)

If you ever have doubts about the future of mankind, apply for a job reading applications to the Farm. You will be awash in intelligent, directed teenagers doing outstanding work. Shaw estimates that 80 percent of the applicants are capable of handling the academic load on the Farm.

Assuming 15 minutes for a standard application review, admissions readers collectively spend a minimum of 9,700 hours evaluating 38,800 student hopefuls. Add 30 minutes or more to absorb each of the most complex files. It used to be that every application would be read twice. Now, only one reading is guaranteed, although—thanks, Mom and Dad—every legacy application still gets two sets of eyes. “In the Fred days,” says assistant dean of admission Debra von Bargen referring to Hargadon, “one person could read everything or at least read it after everyone else had gone through. You can’t do that anymore. It’s impossible.”

69 percent of Stanford’s applicants over the past five years with SATs of 2400—the highest score possible—didn’t get in.


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