By: Kate Abbott Published: November 18, 2008
Increase attributed to increased outreach, interviews
The number of college applicants is increasing substantially each year, and this year, Stanford’s early application process is no exception.
Approximately 5,360 students applied under the Restricted Early Action option to the University this year, according to Director of Admission Shawn Abbott. This number represents a 17-percent increase from last year’s early applicant pool, but Abbott said the spike could not be attributed to any single reason.
“I shouldn’t speculate on what has caused the increase,” Abbott said in an email to The Daily, “because I’m sure it is a myriad of factors.”
These efforts include “enhanced financial aid policies” that were implemented last spring. Abbott said current policies will be reviewed again in January or February of next year.
Both Stanford and Yale saw an increase in overall applicants after Harvard and Princeton eliminated their early decision plans in the fall of 2007, even though Stanford experienced a decrease in early applicants last year. This year’s increase may also be due to Stanford’s new campus viewbook, redesigned Web site and intensive outreach efforts, according to Abbott.
Outreach efforts include a pilot admission interview program involving various alumni in six cities. The interviews — an optional component of the application process — are offered in Atlanta, Denver, London, New York City, Philadelphia and Portland.
The cities were chosen based on the availability of a diverse applicant pool and alumni network. Alumni volunteers were trained during the fall, and interviews will run through the end of February, according to Abbott.
Stanford alum Steve Jewell ‘74, a Portland resident, has already interviewed two Stanford hopefuls.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s fun for someone like me, an alumnus, to talk with these younger people who want to be a part of the Stanford community.”
Jewell said his interviewees discussed a broad range of topics, from dance to travel. He also stressed that while the interviewers provide a brief written report to the admission office, the alumnus or alumna ultimately has no say in the admission decision.
The interview process creates more of a personal connection between the applicant and the University, Jewell added.
“Instead of students sending off their applications to cyberspace and not hearing anything until they get their decision, they feel more personally connected to Stanford in the way that they do to our peer institutions,” he said.
Many current students feel that the interview adds a dimension to the application process that the personal essays do not.
“The interview is a great way to give a better perspective on who you are than just the essays,” said Andrea Fuentes ‘12, who applied early to Stanford last year. “If you haven’t met anyone from the institution, it establishes a connection. With essays, you’re limited to a prompt, but in an interview, you can express yourself however you want.”
Edie Constable ‘12 said Stanford’s switch to the Common Application last year may be a factor in the increase of early applicants, because it eases the overall application process.
“I applied early because I thought it would be easier to get in,” Constable said. “The supplement to the Common Application was demanding, but it also made sure that you had other options if you didn’t get into Stanford.”
Early application candidates will receive their decisions in mid-December.