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Monday, December 23, 2013


Yesterday I posted on the greatness of Stanford University.  Today, I refer to an article in the November/December issue of STANFORD:  "What it Takes:  How does Stanford's undergraduate admissions staff decide who gets accepted?  The Short answer is:  It's complicated.

Over the past three decades, applications have tripled and the acceptance percentage has dropped by three:

This year Stanford got more applicants than Harvard, Yale and Princeton.  The trend shows that Stanford has gained in attraction.

I remember when I was a freshman, football coach Cactus Jack Curtis addressed the class and said he scoured the nation for the best players who qualified, and signed both of them.  (* See the asterisk below to gain an appreciation that Stanford brings in students who can contribute.)  Thus, read and weep:
  • That one person who reads your application reviews an average of 745 others...spending 15 minutes on each.
  • 80% of those who apply would graduate if accepted.
  • Each application then is quickly processed through a committee of five individuals:  if you get a majority vote, you're in.
  • Many universities, especially in Asia, ONLY rely on your scoring well in a standardized test:  Stanford looks for:
    • intellectual vitality
    • passion
    • uniqueness
    • probability of becoming an agent for change
    • etc.
  • This is scary:  69% of applicants who got PERFECT SAT scores DID NOT GET IN!!!
  • * However, if there is only one decent tuba player for their band, chances are this person will be admitted.  This would also apply to athletic teams, of course.
  • Says Marie Bingham, 
    • "OK, let's assume there are approximately 10,000 high schools in the United States (and just the U.S.--students were accepted from 67 countries this past year).  
    • Assume that the very best students from only half of those high schools all apply to Stanford.  That's 5,000 of these very best kids, just in one country.
    • Stanford can only take half of those kids, because they don't have the space. 
  • The percentage of alumni children admitted is roughly three times the overall percentage of acceptance, and this group takes up around 15% of those admitted.  However, there are many, many more "no's" than "yes'," so there are a lot of unhappy alumni Moms and Dads.  Stanford's best response is that Provost (ranks #2 to the President) John Etchemendy, whose mother was a Stanford graduate, applied when he was in high school, and was turned down.  He said his parents were crushed, and very well understands this problem.
  • If you get a thin envelope, the answer is a no.  If you get that thick envelope, great!
To close, there is also graduate school, and Forbes has the following ranking for the best business schools:

          SCHOOL                    CLASS OF 2014
                                        TUITION    GMAT SCORE
  1. Stanford               $118,000           740
  2. Chicago                $117,000           720
  3. Harvard                $127,000           730
Ho hum, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke yet another all time record, up 73 to 16,295.  For the year, the Dow is up 24.4%, but the Nasdaq has zoomed 37.4%.  Maybe I shouldn't have sold all my stocks.

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