Beginning in fall 2018, Stanford University will no longer publicize data regarding the numbers of undergraduate applications it receives during the early or regular admission cycle. This move is intended as a small step in reducing the outsized emphasis placed on the admission rates at U.S. colleges and universities.

Montag Hall

A Stanford application reporting policy change is a step toward reducing the emphasis placed on the admission rates at U.S. colleges and universities. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

During the admission process itself, and when admission decisions are issued each fall and spring, the university will not release application numbers. In the past, information about the incoming class, including application figures, was announced every spring. Stanford will continue to provide data on application numbers at the end of the admission cycle as part of an annual public report to the federal government.

Shifting college-search focus

“When Stanford publicizes its admission numbers during the enrollment cycle, the main result we observe is stories that aim to identify which universities experience the most demand and have the lowest admit rates. That is not a race we are interested in being a part of, and it is not something that empowers students in finding a college that is the best match for their interests, which is what the focus of the entire process should be,” said Stanford Provost Persis Drell.

“We want students to know that when we encourage them to apply to Stanford, it’s not because we wish to be known as a most competitive university with a low admit rate. It is because we want promising students of all backgrounds to seriously consider the educational opportunities and possibilities at Stanford. Each year, we strive to put together a class that is academically excellent, intellectually nimble and enormously broad in backgrounds and perspectives. By focusing on the admit rate, talented students who would thrive at Stanford may opt not to apply because they think Stanford seems out of reach. And that would be a shame.”

Public enrollment information

In the past decade, the volume of applications to U.S. colleges and universities has increased significantly. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 35 percent of high school students applied to seven or more institutions of higher education in 2016, compared to 17 percent of students in 2005. This trend has contributed to lower acceptance rates at many universities.

As mandated by Congress, the university’s enrollment information – including the number of applications each year – is submitted to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and entered into the Integrated Postsecondary Educational Database System (IPEDS). Through annual national surveys, NCES collects information and reports data in areas such as admissions, enrollment, financial aid and graduation rates. IPEDS reports are available to the public on the NCES website.

In addition, Stanford participates in the Common Data Set (CDS), a collaborative effort among the higher education community and publishers. Data are presented in the same “common” format used by most institutions of higher education to facilitate comparisons among institutions. Stanford’s CDS annual reports can be found on the Stanford University Communications website.

Media Contacts

E. J. Miranda, University Communications: (650) 724-9161,