<p>Notoriously</a> selective Stanford considers accepting more students</p>
Stanford University is considering increasing, for the first time in decades, the number of students it enrolls each year. </p>
<p>The idea comes after Stanford, one of the most selective schools in the country, admitted just 10 percent of applicants this year, the smallest percentage ever. </p>
<p>A 20-member study group of faculty, trustees, alumni and a student has been formed by university President John L. Hennessy to weigh the benefits and challenges of expanding the student body. The campus currently has 6,689 undergraduates. It's not clear how much Stanford might expand, although Hennessy has used the term "slightly" larger. </p>
<p>If university officials accept a larger freshman enrollment, Stanford will join a growing list of highly selective universities that are opening their doors wider to outstanding students. Stanford, like other elite institutions, has increasingly turned away valedictorians, those with perfect SAT scores, exceptional musical and athletic prowess, and a host of other accomplishments that might have guaranteed admission some years ago.
Schools like Princeton, the University of Chicago, Duke and Rice are all expanding and Yale is considering it. Stanford's study group plans to consult with everyone from alumni to community members and report back to the board of trustees next fall. A decision will probably come in the next year. </p>
<p>It's no coincidence that universities are talking about making more room after seeing explosive growth in their endowments. Stanford is near the top with a fund of $17.2 billion. </p>
<p>"These colleges are wealthier than they've ever been, and yet we're saying 'no' to more kids?" said Lloyd Thacker at the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit in Portland, Ore., dedicated to improving the college admissions process. </p>
<p>Thacker applauds universities' efforts to grow: "I think that this could be seen as an educationally responsible thing to do." </p>
<p>There are many reasons for the tremendous admissions pressure. The nation saw a 21 percent increase in high school graduates between 1991 and 2003 and is projected to see another 6 percent by 2016 for an annual total of 3.2 million grads, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Other universities have gone through that already and are in the midst of or have just completed an expansion: </p>
<p>-- In 2005, Princeton began a seven-year effort to increase its undergraduate body by 500 students - or more than 10 percent - to 5,200 students. The university admitted just 9.7 percent of applicants in 2007 and hadn't expanded in 30 years.</p>
<p>-- Duke is increasing its engineering undergraduate class by 200 to 1,089, which will make it 18 percent of the undergraduate population, up from 15 percent. </p>
<p>-- The University of Chicago recently finished an expansion that grew the on-campus undergraduate body by 1,000 students - or more than 28 percent - to 4,500. </p>
<p>-- In 2006, Rice began expanding its undergraduate class by 30 percent to 3,800, which will take place over a 10-year period. </p>
<p>-- In February, Yale's governing board will consider adding two new residential colleges to the campus of 5,275 students.