Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Report of Class 2012 from Stanford's Dean of Undergraduate Admissions


Chair Satz invited Richard Shaw, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid, to present his report. She also welcomed several members from his office and several members of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid who were in attendance.

With the aid of slides, copies of which were distributed in advance, Dean Shaw began his report by thanking Chair Satz and noting that it had been two years since he last addressed the Senate. He outlined the topics he intended to cover.

Outreach objectives and results

Application Trends

Class of 2012

Applicant Evaluation including the Reading Process and Committee Structure

Plans for 2008-2009

Outreach objectives and results

Dean Shaw noted, "Over these last three years we have increased significantly outreach initiatives…All 50 states have been touched by our admissions operation every year. That includes large-scale outreach presentations and visiting of many, many high schools. We talk to large, competitive student audiences and we have developed initiatives that reach broadly diverse and first-generation populations in the nation.

"We've traveled not only in this country, [in all seasons including summer] but we've also traveled in Europe and the Middle East, East and South Asia, Central and South America, Canada, and Mexico. We're trying to establish an international reach for Stanford and get the word out about what an extraordinary place this is for undergraduates.

"We've also developed our programs as it relates to key constituents. We have developed a…program called OVAL, the Outreach Volunteer Alumni Link. We…already have almost 2,000 alumni who have signed up to be a part [of OVAL], with a target of 5,000 to 6,000...It's an effort to have people in every community in the world representing Stanford that they know and love.

"We've also developed strong communications with every academic department on this campus…this year. We've established liaisons with individuals within those departments. That's resulted in spectacular response from the academic faculty in terms of the many programs we are engaged in. We will continue to develop [these] relationships with the faculty and also get your input about the work we do and your perception of the classes we admit to the institution.

"We're also very active with nonprofit organizations around the country. Over 400 of them work often with prospective students not in the high schools, but supplemental to the high school experience, often with first-generation students or students from environments where there [isn't] good counseling in their high schools.

"We established last year a national teacher recognition program in which teachers are nominated by the incoming class. We review those nominations, acknowledge how important they were…to the students that are coming to Stanford and we send them an acknowledgment signed by President Hennessy.

"We have developed a newsletter that reaches out to secondary schools around the country, called 'The Dish.'"

Dean Shaw showed a slide summarizing the out reach activities of his office since Labor Day 2007:

200 Joint-travel receptions

65 High school guidance counselor breakfasts

30 Regional information Sessions

450 High school visits

63 Visits with community-based organizations

100 College fairs and workshops

Application Trends.

Figure 1 Trends in Freshman Admission

Legend. Apps = applications; Matrics = matriculated; Yield = percent of those offered admission who accept the offer. *As of May 27, 2008.

Dean Shaw commented that Stanford is becoming more competitive as an institution. "The applications are going up. We also…have been able to accomplish a stronger yield. This year, we have had extraordinary success in admitting an extraordinarily diverse student body from all walks of life, and seeing at the moment [this year] around a 72 percent yield. This is one of the highest yields in the nation. And the progression suggests that we must be doing something right in terms of attracting students to the institution.

"We have a program called 'Single Choice Early Action' [in which the applicant requests an early notification]. We've...had it over the last four years...Several institutions that we compete with -- Princeton, Harvard -- eliminated their early programs. This slide gives a reflection of students that we admit through those programs, the number of applicants, the admit rate. [The slide showed that there are about 4,500 applicants for early decision each year, that the admission rate ranged from 18.3% four years ago to 16.2% this year, and that the yield rate varied from 87.6% four years ago to 84.7% this year.] "These are kids that apply by November 1st and then are notified mid-December. You can see that for the class of 2008, the yield rate went down ever so slightly. But we were really not significantly impacted by these other institutions… [going] to a one-cycle [admission] program.

"This [early admission] is followed by regular review. The vast majority of applicants are regular applicants, by January 1st. [The slide showed that of the 20,747 applicants in 2008, the admission rate was 8.0% and the yield rate was 63.7%.]

"The yield rate has gone up 5.7 percent [from last year] in the regular applicant group. That is absolutely unbelievable in an environment that nobody can predict. Again, [it's a] a reflection of the amazing opportunities that students see here. We are very, very pleased with the outcome."

Dean Shaw reviewed the last 11 years of applicant trends. "In the class of 2012, 51.2 percent of the enrolling students are men, 48.8 percent women. Median testing values [800 is the perfect score], 720 verbal, 730 math, 720 writing, stands fairly common with previous years. The American College Test composite score [36 is the perfect score] was 32. 92 percent of the enrolling students are in the top ten percent of their graduating class…Greater than 95 percent have high school grade point averages of 3.6 or higher. 58.9% are from public high schools and 31.8% from private schools. Another 9 percent are from international schools all over the world. A very [few], 0.2%, are home-schooled."

Class of 2012

Demographics and Intended Major

All 50 states and 61 countries represented

Natural and Earth Science 20.6%

Engineering 27.5%

Humanities 15.4%

Social Science 13.1%

Pre-professional 22.5%

Undeclared 10.9%

Dean Shaw commented, "The subcommittee had great interest in the term 'pre-professional'. Those are students that have already designated pre-med, pre-law, i.e., they have, at 17 years old, determined what they're going to do the rest of their lives. Hopefully, you will change their minds and show them all the different possibilities after they arrive on campus.

"The 'undeclared' number has gone down and has been going down nationally. Students believe they need…to designate what they're going to do. We know that many will change their mind."

In terms of geographic distribution a slide illustrated the home state of the applicants by region over the last 3 years. California as a source of applicants declined from 41 to 35%. All of the other regions were less than 10%, except for the South, steady at 14-15%, and mid-Atlantic, up from 10.4% to 11.9%.

"The major increases are in the mid-Atlantic states and the mountain states, with a

strong showing for two years in the South. And in the last two years, for international students…around nine percent international--we're very pleased with that.

"My own opinion is--this is an international university, and we are working very hard to attract the best and the brightest from all around the world. We feel we're having some major success. We certainly are seeing better yield rates in other parts of the country, where over four years ago, the yield rates were lower. This is good news and we have great geographic diversity.

"I am sharing with you cross admissions comparisons for the Class of 2011 where data are complete. This represents other colleges and universities who we compete with for admitted students. So you can see that Cal is has the largest number of admits followed by other campuses of U.C. system Then you can see Harvard, Yale, and, interestingly, on this chart, USC, then MIT, and Princeton a little bit farther down. But these are institutions that students were admitted to last year's class."

Dean Shaw then drew some comparisons with other universities in the US.

Figure 2. Top Colleges Attended by Non-Enrolling Students


The X axis is the percent of the applicants offered admission to Stanford who enrolled in another institution. The data are from last year for the Class of 2011. For example, if the number of applicants offered admission to Stanford who chose to go elsewhere was approximately 700, 19% (133 in all) chose to attend Yale (in the Class of 2011).

"Last year Harvard took 27 percent of those that didn't enroll [at Stanford], Yale 19 percent, MIT, 15 percent, and Princeton 7 percent…These are consistently our top competitors."

Then Dean Shaw showed a table for this year's group. The percent of non-enrolling students choosing Harvard remained at 27%, rose to 18.2% for Princeton, but dropped to 12.5% for Yale and 11% for MIT.

Said Dean Shaw, "This is not official yet, but I think it's important. Remember that Harvard and Princeton eliminated their early [admissions] programs. So we're seeing more overlap [now] with Princeton. Harvard is still first, [now] followed by Princeton [which jumped up two places over Yale and MIT]. Yale, then, is next. I don't know why I take some joy in the fact that now it's 80 (going to Yale) vs. 80 (going to Stanford). That's substantially changed over the last couple of years. We're making real headway in terms of our competition with the best institutions in the world."

Applicant Evaluation including the Reading Process and Committee Structure

"We implemented a committee process this year. It's a much more democratic process…Our staff read the applicant files, and code many characteristics in the process …We had over 25,000 applicants. We spend a lot of time focusing on the academic qualities of their classrooms and the rigor of their courses. 'Intellectual vitality' is an important characteristic that we look for.

"Our staff become very familiar with the territory they represent [consisting of] specific states and specific high school areas…We look at files and candidates in direct concert with that which has been determined as [important according to the Senate] over the years. We take into account their essays, answers to short questions, extracurricular accomplishments, engagement in research at the secondary level, teacher recommendations and so forth.

"For new staff members, their [reviews of an application] are always read by a second staff member. For [reviews from] continuing and more [seasoned] staff, if a student is [deemed] competitive, that application goes to a second reader as well. At the end of the reading process, the [staff members] have summarized the candidacies of the [applicants] and the [process now proceeds] to a committee, [chaired by a] senior member of the staff, perhaps myself, where they represent the candidates they believe are the most competitive for a position in the class.

"All applicants for the institution come through that committee room…We see lots…of accrued data about those candidates. Then the advocate, the admissions officer, represents that candidate to the committee, and we take a vote. So it's a democratic process."

Dean Shaw explained that for more difficult cases where it's uncertain whether a subcommittee is able to refer an applicant to the larger committee, the large committee than will consider that applicant.

The committee process is "…something I've been doing for a number of years. I find it to be an excellent way to go about the final evaluation of the candidates. It has checks and balances. And the staff is adapted to it very well."

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