Admission Impossible?

THE SINK OR SWIM ROUND
SECOND IN A SERIES
By Marisa Cigarroa


More than 80 alumni of different ages, some with their teenage children in tow, filled the seats and spilled into the aisles of Thornton Auditorium for a crash course on the Stanford admission process. This has become one of the more popular programs during Reunion Homecoming Weekend and the overflow crowd attests to the mystique surrounding the college admission process. Even those who have made it in and out of Stanford are unsure about what it takes to get accepted.

Holly Thompson, senior associate director of admission who is leading the two-hour session, is a straight-shooter. She peppers her responses to questions with concrete examples, not hypotheticals, and is quick to acknowledge the limitations that are inherent in her job.

“I’m always keenly aware of the fact that I am not evaluating the applicant, I am evaluating the application. I’m limited to what’s in the file,” Thompson says.

Thompson’s aim this afternoon is to counter the myths about college admission and to put a human face on Stanford’s process. She begins by plotting the mechanics of building a class.

Stanford’s selection process can be visualized as a line with several decision points. The first point is the “sorting” point, where files are read by the most experienced members of the staff and sorted into competitive or noncompetitive piles. About half the files drop out of the competition at this point. A small fraction, about 5 percent, are deemed “clear admits” and go to the dean for approval; the rest advance to a second point, for a closer look from another reader.

Class of 2002 (Plain text)

Previous | Next


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998

 Contents

 NEWS & VIEWS
 President’s Column
 On Campus
 Stanford’s Facelift
 Housing Shortage
 Sand Hill Road
 Campus Briefs

 Science & Medicine
 Mesozoic Era
 Computer Music
 Colliding Beams
 Sci & Med Briefs

 Sports
 Sports as Business
 Big Game
 Sports Briefs

 FEATURES
 Stanford Observed
 Spanish 11-C
 John Rickford
 Race in America
 Class of 2002
 The Search for Money
 Phyllis Gardner
 Waymouth/Hellman


 HOME
 GUEST SERVICES
 SEARCHING
 ST COLLECTION
 NEWS SERVICE
 ALUMNI
 EMAIL THE EDITOR
 COMING UP