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May 12, 2011

Stanford to offer optional alumni interviews for freshman applicants

Personal interviews with trained alumni will become an optional component of the freshman application process at Stanford, according to Richard Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid.

"Applicants will meet with Stanford affiliates in their own hometowns, alumni interviewers will have the opportunity to share their knowledge of and passion for Stanford, and their interview reports will provide our admission officers with another layer of context in our holistic admission process," Shaw said.

According to Shaw, the purpose of the alumni interview is twofold: It will serve as a tool for both evaluation and outreach. "Our ultimate goal is an exchange of information between applicants, alumni and admission officers that will help lead to the best fit between university and student," Shaw said.

The decision comes following a three-year pilot program in which alumni interviewed applicants in 12 areas: Atlanta; Denver; London; Minneapolis/St. Paul; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh/Durham; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Massachusetts; and Virginia.

After reviewing the pilot program, Stanford's Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid voted in April to approve the Office of Undergraduate Admission's proposal to include an optional interview.

Shaw stressed the role of interviews as "conversations, designed to make our applicants more comfortable, to give them a greater voice in the admission process and further insight into Stanford." Research concludes that most Stanford applicants view the opportunity to interview as a positive element of what can be a sometimes stressful college admission process, Shaw said.

In keeping with Stanford's three-year pilot program, alumni interviews will be optional, with no penalty for applicants who choose not to meet with alumni, or to whom an interview is not available. Alumni will contact applicants directly if an interview is available in their regions; applicants cannot request interviews. All applications to Stanford will be considered complete with or without an interview.

In addition to the 12 pilot interview areas, new areas for the 2011-12 admission cycle will include the full states of Minnesota and Oregon, as well as much of the UK. Additional areas will be added for subsequent cycles. Shaw said he plans to roll out the program worldwide over several years, and meanwhile "will be focusing efforts on refining our infrastructure to support global expansion."




Lisa Lapin, University Communications: (650) 725-8396,


Richard H. Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid: (650) 725-3770

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