News

Stanford may increase size of freshman class

Stanford University will begin to discuss whether it should increase the size of its freshman class and, by extension, the size of its undergraduate student body.

"It is time to begin a conversation" with alumni, faculty and others about increasing the size of the freshman class," Stanford President John Hennessy said. He characterized the increase as "slight," but gave no precise numbers.

Hennessy made his remarks in the recently published September-October issue of Stanford, a magazine that goes to alumni.

Stanford had 1,689 students in its freshman class last year, a number that has been roughly constant for many years. But the number of applicants goes up every year. Stanford received 22,333 applications last year and nearly 24,000 this year.

Stanford had 6,689 undergraduates last year, a number that has also been historically stable.

Hennessy's said in his "President's Column" in the magazine that his thinking on increasing the freshman class size is driven by the number of talented prospective students the university turns away each year.

"It is still one of the most difficult parts of the job to explain to parents with gifted children why a son or daughter was denied admission," Hennessy wrote.

But increasing the size of the freshman class "is not a conversation to be taken lightly," he said. It would mean providing more student housing and financial aid while also trying to maintain the same ratio of faculty to students, he noted.

Comments

Posted by NIMBY NATION, a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2007 at 3:54 pm

oh, god forbid! Now the NIMBY's are going to come out and wonder where Stanford is going to house the new students. Oh, gee-golly, watch out! the sky is falling....


Posted by Peter, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2007 at 5:55 pm

so what if there are a few more nerbbombers in town - they'll continue to nerd away in their dorm rooms. no biggie.


Posted by Forced Competition, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:05 am

What they're not telling you is that while the number of applicants has increased from 22,333 to nearly 24,000, those kids are now submitting 19 other applications. They can only choose one school, after all. Who knows -- maybe Stanford is number 20 on their list, or their crap-shoot dream school. Five years ago they wouldn't have bothered to apply.


Posted by Walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 5:07 am

Stanford has room to grow so why shouldn't they make more money. Anyway, we need more cars parked in College Terrace!!!!


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2007 at 9:35 am

Forced Competition,

Are the multiple applications the result of the common application thing going around?

I'm wayyyy out of the loop on any of this.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 12:26 pm

OhlonePar,
No, the common applications are for UC's, for example, but certainly not private schools. There are students who are actually filing 10+ unique applications. The competition is becoming fierce for college entry. Even top students aren't getting accepted in a uniform way. They can't count on being merely "exceptional". So they apply to lots and lots of universities, assuming that some schools that they're clearly qualified for will reject them for arbitrary reasons. The problem feeds on itself, though. As soon as some kids start submitting 10-20 applications, the others are almost forced to follow suit. Paly & Gunn advisors are pretty good at attempting to discourage this practice. What it means for Stanford (et al) is that the number of applications they receive is significantly increasing, some from students who have little intention of going there.

Palo Alto students are in a unique situation: on the one hand, they receive an excellent education. On the other hand, they're in competition with each other for the top universities. Stanford (or substitute your favorite ivy here) will only accept a certain number of students from Paly/Gunn - a number that's less than the number of students who clearly qualify. The students who are turned away may (likely) be more qualified than some students who are accepted from other high schools. It's all part of creating a diverse student body.

It's an interesting thing to think about in the context of creating a third high school. A third HS could potentially increase the number of PAUSD students placed in top universities.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 12:50 pm

YAP

You raise a very good point in relation to the third high school debate.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Not to be excessively cynical, but I wouldn't work to reopen Cubberly in order to get more kids from this area into those Ivy and Ivy-like schools. The admissions people will be well aware of the three school situation and will just divide up the admissions among them. If you want a better shot at admissions, move to Eureka or some other far-flung place.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:08 pm

I hear you, Natasha. Opening a third HS is like opening a can of worms. I'm just tossing the idea out there as something interesting to contemplate. As far as dividing the PAUSD applicant pool into thirds, my impression is that it's by school rather than district, and therefore the total number accepted would likely increase.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I agree, I spoke with a UC Berkeley admissions rep on tour to Paly who told me that all Paly applicants are competing against Paly applicants and not against Gunn applicants. This would presumably follow for a third high school.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

You may be right. It seems to me, though, that schools accept by region rather than only by school (I base this only on my very informal survey of my Freshman facebook from a couple of decades ago).

But it would be nice to have an informed group reviewing the need for a third high school, instead of veering off into another topic altogether.

I wonder too how the AAAG group members felt about volunteering scads of time to look at boundaries and then having the Board summarily reject its recommendation. I mean, why were they asked to review the need for a new elementary if the Board just ignored its recommendations out of hand?

It's really discouraging to look at the many ways the BoE and 25 Churchill squander the many contributions -- in time and money and energy and expertise -- of Palo Alto residents, instead of making the most of those contributions. I'd love to see meaningful use of those resources. I hope that will change.


Posted by AAAG Member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Natasha, you said it.

Whereas we started our discussions and felt that we ourselves were in charge, it soon became apparent that there was an agenda for us to stick to and as more time passed on, our thought process and deliberations were lead on a prescribed path over which we had little or no control. I actually feel sorry for the high school task force on this one, because what has been reported as being their view may in actual fact be the way in which they are being directed.


Posted by Lois, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Since Stanford accepts applicants who are the children of Stanford Professors before accepting others, it is almost impossible to get into Stanford unless one or both your parents are on the faculty. Perhaps increasing the freshman class will help more Gunn students get accepted providing their parents can afford it.


Posted by D, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Lois,
It's untrue that Stanford has a fast-track or separate review process for any applicant -- faculty brat, child of a major donor, three-sport letter winner, whatever. Everyone gets in on merit.
I know plenty of profs (and alumni, etc) whose kids did not get into Stanford.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:06 pm

I know that getting into the top colleges these days is insane--not that out of the loop.

I have to disagree with D though. Kids of faculty don't get in first, but they do have a slight advantage. When you factor in the kids of alums and the kids of Silicon Valley's wealthiest, I think it gets very, very difficult for kids from Palo Alto to get in without one of those factors.

What I find weirdly amusing is that there are families that move here with the notion that Gunn and Paly are feeder schools that will help their kids get into Stanford and the Ivy League.


Posted by HMB, a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:09 pm

OhlonePar and "yet another parent": Stanford recently announced it was going to the Common App (check Stanford's admissions website). The Common App is just one of the reasons kids area applying to so many schools (all the hype and competition and ranking lists that force schools to constantly change admissions policies to game their rankings is another). The Common App is indeed used by private schools -- although most have supplements to that application. I know this because my son applied to college last year, mostly to private schools, and is now attending a private school in the midwest as a freshman.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:09 pm

D, that's interesting. It was definitely the scuttlebutt when I was applying to colleges in the early 80's -- not just about Stanford but about the Ivies as well. I'm surprised the school does NOT look at professors' kids and alumni kids on an "all other things being equal" basis -- so that if two candidates are equal and one has a parent teaching there or a relative who attended, they take the one from a family with a demonstrated interest in the school. I don't mean less qualified professros' and alumni kids would be admitted.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:35 pm

HMB, Wow - things sure change fast around here! Thanks for the correction. Good luck to your son, and I wish you a smooth transition, too.


Posted by alum, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 5:11 pm

D and Lois appear to be on the opposite extremes - I believe the reality is somewhere in between.

Having competed against the two dozen or so Gunn classmates of mine whose parent(s) were affiliated with the University to get into Stanford a while back, it was clear that there is a preference given to the sons/daughters of professors & staff - but not to the extent that merit is not considered to a fair degree. In my year, of the kids who got accepted (I guess around 12-15), only 3-4 didn't have the faculty/staff connection.

Experiences of siblings and friends across many other application years (during the 80's and 90's) were similar.

OhlonePar - you make a good point that those who feel that their kids have a better chance of getting into Stanford or an Ivy League school by attending Gunn/Paly may be in for a surprise. There are only so many qualified students from the same high school that a university will accept - and such a competitive (both academically and in extracurricular activities) environment in the PA schools. I'm glad I have many years before my kids are in high school and I'll have to worry about all this!


Posted by Lois, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2007 at 5:17 am

In the past I had heard that one of the perks of being on the faculty at Stanford is that they pay the equivalent of Stanford's tuition for the children of faculty to either attend Stanford or a school of their choice which may be a reason for so many faculty kids attending Stanford. I have no idea if such perks are offered today. This does not apply to alumni or children of major donors.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2007 at 7:54 pm

At least back in the late 70's and 80's, Stanford paid for one-half of the Stanford tuition to Stanford and up to one-half of Stanford's tuition to any other college or university for the children of faculty and all employees who had been working at the university for five years. I do not know if it still does. It would not pay for a fifth year, and if I remember correctly, it was only for undergrad tuition. Maybe someone remembers.

I also remember reading that the Stanfords established the university in their son's name 'for all the children of California'.


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