Jun 29, 2010

Stanford Expands Pilot Interview Program

Stanford dean of admissions Richard Shaw recently announced that the Office of Undergraduate Admission will extend its pilot interview program to a third year and again offer an optional alumni interview to applicants attending high school in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Denver, London, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), and Raleigh/Durham, as well as the state of Massachusetts.

In addition, Stanford decided to expand the pilot program to include students in the Washington metropolitan area. For the 2010-11 admissions cycle, alumni will be scheduling interviews for students in the District of Columbia, as well as in the states of Maryland and Virginia.

"Our pilot program is just that - experimental and exploratory, nothing more," said Shawn Abbott, Stanford' former director of admission, in earlier correspondence related to the second phase of the program. "All regions were chosen based on lengthy research and discussion about our yield, diversity and alumni volunteer resources in each location."

Last year, approximately 2500 of 32,000 Stanford applicants received alumni interviews. Admissions officials insist that interviewed students receive no unfair advantage or disadvantage in the interview process and point to statistics showing the admission rate among interviewees was in line with Stanford's overall admission rate of about 7.2 percent.

Characterized as “successful,” the Stanford interview program is designed to be both informative as well as evaluative. Alumni are asked to:

• Share their Stanford experiences with prospective students; and
• Convey their impressions of candidates to the admission committee.

The Stanford website contends that alumni are “Stanford’s most authentic voice,” and they are encouraged to take part in what is considered to be an “important admission initiative.”

Yet according to Shawn Abbott, "The jury is still out on whether or not this program is worth our efforts, but at the very least, surveys to alumni suggest they love this opportunity to be involved with Stanford and to meet our applicants. Likewise, admission officers...suggest that they appreciated the additional information about each interviewed candidate - though admit that rarely did their own evaluations change as a result."

Applicants in the selected areas will be offered alumni interviews for both Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision applications. Interviews for Restrictive Early Action will take place from approximately October 1 to November 20, 2010, and Regular Decision interviews will be scheduled from about January 1 to February 20, 2011.

As in previous years, interviews will be offered only to students who attend high school in selected zip codes within the designated geographic areas. Students may not travel to a pilot area to have an interview and you are asked not to “call or email the Office of Undergraduate Admission to request an interview and/or to find out if you are eligible for an interview.”

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