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Admit rate drops to 7.1 percent as class size grows

With the release of admission decisions on Tuesday, Stanford’s acceptance rate fell to 7.1 percent, breaking the record 7.2 percent set last year. Of the 34,348 high school students who applied to the Farm this year, 2,427 have the opportunity to join the Class of 2015. The number includes the 754 applicants admitted in December through the early action option.

This initial percentage, however, can be deceptive: only 2,300 students were admitted to the classes of 2014 and 2013 before more were accepted off the waitlist.

Recently, Stanford has increased the number of admitted students it can accommodate each year, according to Director of Admission Bob Patterson. An increase in the raw number of acceptances was motivated by greater space available on campus in both classrooms and residence halls. As a result, the freshman class size is likely to increase next year by roughly 50 students, he said–leading to an expected freshman enrollment of about 1,725.

Stanford’s admit class is once again geographically diverse: roughly nine percent of the pool are international students, and admits hail from all 50 states.

“We saw talented students from the academic arena to the theater arts, from debate to athletics–truly talented students,” Patterson said. “This was an amazing class. The admission staff was really passionate about the students they read and extremely excited about the students who were ultimately admitted.”

Stanford remained among the most selective institutions in the nation. Harvard and Columbia had admittance rates of 6.2 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively. Yale accepted 7.4 percent of applicants, while Princeton took in 8.4 percent.

Admission rates continue to fall nationwide as more students apply to a greater number of institutions, Patterson said. Although the overall number of graduating high school students decreased from last year, Stanford received a higher number of applications. The number of high school applicants increased 6.8 percent from last year, which boasted a total of 32,022 applicants.

Despite this growth in applications, Stanford’s admission process has remained the same.

“We continued to review applications the same way we always have, through a comprehensive, holistic approach,” Patterson said. “We did hire additional reading staff, and we also had them work more hours. It took a toll on them, but they still reviewed every single file we received this year.”

Ehrik Aldana, who was admitted as part of Stanford’s regular decision process, said he is excited for Admit Weekend.

“What I had found out from websites, papers and talking to people–I’m looking forward to experiencing it firsthand,” Aldana said.

But the excitement hasn’t quite sunk in for him yet.

“I’m still in this incredibly nebulous place where I don’t know what to think right now,” he said. “It feels unreal.”

The admission process is still far from over for many applicants. Stanford will begin reviewing the applications of roughly 1,400 transfer students over the next two weeks. There are also 1,078 students on the waitlist.

Admits have until May 1 to accept the University’s offer.

AMPLIFICATIONS: This story was updated to include the number of students expected to enroll for the Class of 2015. In addition, The Daily revised Columbia University’s admit rate to reflect results from its School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as those for Columbia College.

  • HN

    Your rate for Columbia is wrong. 6.4% is only for the college, with SEAS it was 6.9%.

  • alum

    So….. HOW MANY members of the Class of 2015 are expected to enroll?????

  • Ummm…

    Since when has there been more undergrad housing? They were only able to “unstuff” housing after opening Crothers for undergrads. I know there’s supposed to be a new undergrad dorm built soon, but it won’t be open until fall of 2012 or something. More than fifty people go unassigned every year. It doesn’t make sense to screw over upperclass housing to accommodate more freshmen.

  • Nadia

    @Ummm…
    Do you know where they’re planning to put a new undergraduate dorm?

    Also wasn’t there controversy earlier this year over converting some units in Rains to undergraduate rooms? This on top of Oak Creek? Have we really gotten housing figured out?

    Well I suppose they know what they’re doing…

  • Huh

    Yeah, what they are doing is trying to increase revenues. Undergrads are a revenue source for colleges. An increase in the number of undergrads brings an increase in revenue that exceeds the increase in costs. i.e The college makes a profit.

  • @Huh

    That model does not really apply to Stanford much. While it does rely partly on student income for its budget, the revenue generated by this small difference in the # students attending is a drop in the bucket in comparison to student revenue, much less the total budget. Presumably many of these students would require aid, so it’d be an additional cost anyway–even if they all paid full-freight (unlikely since Stanford’s need-blind), that’s $2.5 million… so not worth compromising just to get a tiny tiny boost in funding.

    Other schools find this method useful (e.g. the UCs are accepting more non-California students because they pay the full sticker price), but it’s not true of the exorbitantly well-funded schools like Stanford.

  • Turtle

    Actually, Huh has a point. Stanford proposed a large increase in undergraduates several years back. I forget the proposed number but think it was 2,000) The official reason was that many worthy students are being turned away. But even doubling the number of undergrads wouldn’t put much of a dent in the number of worthy students denied admission. Many people suspected the real reason was to increase revenue. Contrary to popular opinion most undergrads pay full tuition/r&b. Those stats about most undergrads receiving financial aid include students receiving loans. Students on loan pay full tuition/r&b plus interest. And the minority on scholarship are receiving funds designated for that purpose. The proposal didn’t receive a positive reaction. So now Stanford is slowly increasing the size of each class. Proceed slow and steady and no one notices.

  • @Turtle

    Many people may have suspected that, but many people are also uninformed about the realities of these universities’ finances. When Hennessy first suggested expansion of roughly 200 students for a total 1,900 per class, he was not initiating a task force to study it, but just putting the idea out there that we need to discuss what Stanford might do in maybe 10 years. The probable reason for this suggestion is that around that time, there was lots of buzz in the media about how more and more students were “pushing at the gates” of the most elite universities, but the the number of spots has remained constant. Of course, this isn’t news; it’s happened for a long time, but the buzz flared then because at the time, all of the “top 5″ schools had just dropped into single-digit acceptance rates. Then Princeton expanded its undergrad size by building more of its colleges, and Yale announced it was doing the same. There were even rumors that Harvard might eventually expand. So it was only natural that Stanford also start discussion about it–gotta keep up with the Joneses, you know.

    If Stanford increased by 800, assuming for simplicity that half are on financial aid with average package of $40k (the current figure; though I think about 60% of the current student body is on need-based aid, not counting those with loans), that’s under $25 million of additional revenue. Still only a tiny portion of annual revenues, which break $4 billion counting donations. $2.5 million, which is what Huh’s post was indicating, is just insignificant. Neither is enough to justify any major policy decision such as class expansion. Now, when you get into the ballpark of hundreds of millions of dollars, then that’s enough dough to sway a major policy.

    And sway it does. If Stanford were to give a full scholarship for every student to attend, it would cost about $240 million (in addition to the current $120 million spent on financial aid). That’s enough money to keep the policy of charging students tuition/room/board the same, for now at least. But remember that when Hennessy first suggested expansion, it was only a few months before the economic downturn, when Stanford’s endowment was poised to break $20 billion and its merged pool assets had already reached $22 billion. It was at that time that the exorbitantly wealthy schools were under fire from Congressmen and newspapers, who contended that these schools weren’t spending enough of their vast financial resources to make their education more accessible, where the focus was specifically on low and middle income students. So it was a very smart political move on Hennessy’s part to “get the ball rolling” in order to get the Congressmen off the university’s back for the moment (some of those Congressmen were actually suggesting drastic measures like taking away the tax-exempt status from schools that don’t “spend enough,” or to impose a tax on huge endowments, or to force them to spend at least 5-7% of their endowments each year). So since the increase in students was motivated by accessibility for students who can’t pay much or anything, it makes no sense that Stanford would be trying to rely on the expansion for revenue.

    On top of all that, given Stanford’s investment returns, it’s likely going to break $25 billion within 5 years, and that’s assuming a much lower annual return rate of 15% (this past year, it was something like 11%, so it’s recovering far faster than management expected), rather than the 20-25% Stanford was getting before the downturn. Unlike most other elite schools, for the first 30 years of Stanford’s life (25% of Stanford’s life), it was tuition free and housing costs were kept as low as possible in order for poor students to attend. Then they had to change that because the university finances had taken a turn for the worse (earthquakes do that to you). That’s an important part of the university’s past, and there seems to be an expectation that Stanford will return to that model as soon as it’s in the financial position to do so. It might even find that it has no choice but to return to that model, if the elite schools are breaking $50 billion endowments (which Harvard likely will within 5-7 years); the larger they grow, the more pressure the universities will be under to do something that increases their accessibility.

    What better way to persuade low and middle income students to apply and matriculate than to promote the simple policy “Stanford is free to attend”? It’s not unheard of; a few other colleges in the US do almost that (like Cooper Union, which impressively has remained tuition-free for all its students since its founding 150 years ago). With prospects like this, accepting more students to bring in revenue is moot if the model is likely to change within 5-10 years anyway. And let’s face it: if the economy hadn’t nosedived, every super wealthy university would be having very difficult conversations with Congress right now. But those conversations will happen; the recession just delayed them a bit.

  • john

    Am I missing something? If Stanford takes very few students off the waitlist the overall number of admitted students won’t be any different than previous years.