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Former Stanford admissions officers allege preferential treatment for children of faculty, donors

Children of Stanford faculty members and large donors receive preference in the admissions process, even more than legacy students, former Stanford Admissions Officers Marci Reichelstein and Irena Smith told the Palo Alto Patch.

According to Reichelstein and Smith, these benefits allow faculty members to advocate for their children’s admission. Faculty can also threaten more serious measures by using their influence over important resources.

Reichelstein said that these advantages lead to an “X-factor” gap between admissions rates for normal applicants and children of faculty. According to the Palo Alto Patch article, Stanford spokesperson Lisa Lapin said Stanford does not track the specific admission rates of faculty’s children.

-Haelin Cho

  • Marci

    As one of the sources for the original article, I would like to comment that information given during the source interview was misreported and also quoted out of context.
    Quotes such as the faculty student “x-factor” boost and “informal agreements between large donors and the admissions department” were not made by me.
    The overall thrust of the information I provided was that, rather, I believe high school years are best used for the exploration of, and deepening involvement in, a student’s academic and life interests.  It is through this purposeful engagement that students learn more about what intrigues them and what their unique talents are. 
    With this self-knowledge comes a greater belief in themselves and
    how they can influence their world.  This is the best path to help
    students clarify passions, values and life goals.  This is the best way students prepare themselves to select colleges that offer the best qualities and programs to help them reach their fullest potential.
    Marci Reichelstein

  • cardcounter

     Marci, that is so vague it does not respond to the article.

  • cardcounter

    This article raises vague questions and provides no answers.  Where would the preference start?   Surely the “readers” who read 30,000 plus applications don’t differentiate by who are the parents of the students. Specifically who in the admissions office influences the decisions?  I would have to see some specific proof before I would accept such vague, unsubstantiated accusations.

    From everything else I have seen it is the high achiever from low income families and minorities who has the advantage which is the way it should be IMO.

  • Adam Swart

    I was recently advised of Marci’s comment regarding my article in Palo Alto Patch. Though I rarely get involved in this type of matter, I do feel the need to respond to her erroneous assertions.After I asked Marci about faculty admissions vs. legacy admissions, she mentioned that those groups were treated very differently. She then proceeded to tell me that the admissions rate for the faculty group was far higher. When I asked how much higher, she stated, “We’re not talking just a boost like a 6.6 percent to 15 percent, we’re talking a multiple or ‘x-factor boost,’”. I took down the exact quote in my notebook, knowing it was an important piece of information.The paraphrased comment about informal arrangements being made between the admissions department and top donors was a result of her contention that deals between those groups are made “informally with a handshake”.In the interests of transparency, I have taken a photo of the specific page of my notebook where notes from the interview were taken. If anyone wishes to see the notes, please email me at adam.swart@patch.com. That goes for Marci as well.Reporters are not PR agents for their sources. We decide what angle to pursue in stories, and encourage sources to reveal truthful information that they may not intend to reveal. I understand the ‘inside-info’ Marci revealed may make for some awkward interactions at Stanford, but she should have considered that before revealing privileged information to a reporter.

  • Sid Luscutoff

    Perhaps more important that all of these factors is that the Admissions Department has regularly, repeatedly and  successfully identified (and invited) students who are collaborative in their love of learning and who selflessly share their own personal genius with their student colleagues.  That selflessness and collaboration fosters a joyous pursuit of learning.

  • Guest

    The more important matter to me is how much preference exists after you account for the caliber of the children of faculty. Wealthy students are already on average more qualified than less wealthy applicants, not just in their test scores and such, but in the non-quantifiable factors for admission like their outside activities. Faculty children are even more likely to be extra-qualified when you consider how intelligent their parents are and how privileged their upbringing likely is.

    In other words, telling us about any x-factor is pointless. I’m certain that faculty children would get in at a higher rate even if the admissions committee had no idea which applicants are faculty children. The difference between that rate and the actual admit rate for these students is where the preference lies; it’s almost certainly less than this x-factor would suggest.

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