Stanford will no longer announce undergraduate application numbers

@preppedparent

“We need more transparency not less.”

At these high application levels, there in no such thing as “transparency.” You have to read a few thousands applications to get the picture! SATs, ACTs, GPAs, a list of ECs and a socio/economic grouping are elements of a painting, but not THE painting. Decisions turn in a subjective direction, by necessity. Think of the best novels you have read and then tell me why you rated one higher than another. Can anyone else hold a different opinion?

@retiredfarmer : I agree with you, and hate to say this, but I honestly have begun to hate the articles that come out every damned year from these very selective schools (say top 30-40) where they essentially brag about the slightest increases in application numbers and admissions statistics. It almost reads like: “Look, we are getting more and more perfect on paper every year and just want to tell everyone, especially alumni and incoming students. Why, that way they can all pat themselves on the back for the increased prestige their degree will have for going to a school that went from a 5% admit rate to a 4.5% admit rate and from a 1500 SAT median to a 1510 SAT median”…it strikes me as more annoying than Stanford being “self-congratulatory” by announcing this move as one poster put it.

These schools have very intense propaganda machines that go out of their way to sell surface level prestige almost as much or more than things that will affect or enhance the student experience if they are admitted and decide to matriculate. Sadly, it is and has been an effective feed-forward system and it seems that some view the admissions statistics as basically the only thing that signals the health of an institution despite the fact that effective marketing and communications can yield far bigger returns in this arena than actual increases in academic/institutional quality/character. Just sell something that glitters to prospective students, but ain’t actually gold via your communications team and Voila! Watch the apps pour in.

One of the rules of marketing is “first have a great product”. So, by that rule, Stanford is in good shape…

@Rivet2000 : No one says it doesn’t. But there are no doubt many places over-selling products or putting on fronts in certain areas because of the naivete of the “buyers” who do have certain values. Play to those values and put them front and center in hopes that people will be enamored enough to ignore any weaknesses. Let us not pretend all these top schools are perfect/not full of stuff at times in the way they market. The way they market at this point, they don’t need to sell “getting even better” instead of “look, we’ve always been better than most places, have a good rank, are fun, have pretty campuses, and extremely nice facilities”. Basically, for some prospective students, doesn’t take but so much. Sell good vibes and college stereotypes and you have a winner. This is even easier if you have a high rank.

Examples?

in college admissions or outside, many examples where a better product hasn’t done well

“One of the rules of marketing is “first have a great product”. So, by that rule, Stanford is in good shape…”

That’s not exactly one of the essential rules of marketing, it’s a nice to have of course. And what proof do you have that any of these universities have a better product than the other?

Having a great product makes marketing very easy - common sense.

I am not making any claim, I am asking for supporting evidence for the claim that top 30-40 schools are only marketing good vibes.

I have one naturally talented but lazy kid and another hardworking less talented kid and it’s the hardworking one Stanford admitted. They have similar stats. The admission process seems to make sense in our own experience. The low admissions rate is daunting, especially for my hardworking kid. I am glad Stanford is trying to not make it worse. @ewho we are Asian.

@Rivet2000 and @theloniusmonk : First of all: PRIMARILY is not the same as “only” and I was basically saying primarily. I agree with @theloniusmonk that it is not a requirement, but is certainly nice to have. My idea is that some schools sell a grand, often non-academically focused picture that for some reason gets students to believe that the school is much better than it really is for academics (people can be cajoled in conflating campus aesthetic and many other things, for academic excellence. When it is challenged, all such a school must do is point to their admissions statistics…as if it has grown with academic quality and rigor Some places have hardly changed their programs or instruction to fit the “increasingly excellent students”).

You can go on many university/CAS websites as well as admissions websites and look at the imagery and nature of the blogs to get an idea of what many schools are trying to play up. The expenditures of many elite schools, including most elites have suggested the increased value placed on “quality of life” and “fun”. You can see how many construction projects are geared towards undergraduate dorms (especially freshmen at many places) and other shiny new amenities. Much of marketing will focus on how nice the campus looks, how shiny the current amenities are and the fact they are building even more to appease students. Academically focused structures and construction are often played down relative to that sort of stuff (think student unions, gyms, etc). I don’t need to list examples. I attended one of these places. They are great relative to other places, but I will not pretend that they are perfect and don’t go out of their way to sell students feel good stuff. Let us not pretend that lots of places don’t do this and also recognize that some schools have seen stark increases in admissions success (on paper) versus super elite schools academically not because they improved undergraduate academic opportunities such that they truly rivaled such schools, but because they were very “nice” and “not so stressful”. I have done comparisons of the academics between some of these newer schools with HYPM level stats versus HYPM…they don’t compare particularly well (even at the undergrad level in the areas I am interested in.

I would name names including my own alma mater, but I really do not feel like lighting flames right now. They are not alone, many of the very top ranked schools pre-dominantly known for raw strength of academic programs seem to have followed suit and joined the construction arms race after many of the “new Ivies” as well as many public schools who did the same thing to compete. There is nothing wrong with selling the “feel good” aspects, but I feel as if it should not be overdone. My point is that it has become easy to sell prestige and grandeur using superficial “improvements”.

You can look up literature and articles that point out these issues if you do not wanna believe me. I’m not going to do this today though I normally wood write you a nice little thesis including examples, studies, compelling anecdotal articles, etc. Some people just hate hearing that elite schools can do no wrong or hate them being critiqued in any way. They are not beyond reproach and are certainly not above continuing the games that significantly less well-off schools employ even post-prestige. They tend to follow whatever trends.

@SCMHAALUM : Eh…the opposite happens more than you think. Among the talented and high caliber applicants they get, there will be lots of seemingly randomness and surprises when looking at those who are actually admitted. Really hard to tell and then the evaluates are human. Was it Amherst or Haverford who had a little blip of an evaluation session recorded? A lot of weirdness and human element can go into evaluating qualified candidates.

I guess I’m just having trouble finding an example of an “elite” school that matches what you describe. Thinking back on the 12-14 schools my son toured, all had fairly well maintained facilities, but none had anything I would call extravagant dorms or gourmet dining halls. That’s why I asked for an example.

I do feel that the majority of students, parents, and advisers place more emphasis on academics as do the majority of schools. Rightly, so.

@SCMHAALUM , IMO it is exactly those types of variances that give the student bodies at different colleges a unique flavor. Most people can pick up on the character of different schools and that’s a good thing.

This might have already been mentioned but, beginning with Class of 2021, UChicago stopped announcing any application, admit or yield data in the spring of the admission cycle. They now publish that data on their website shortly after the class arrives in the fall. Last fall, it appeared shortly after Convocation, or the official opening of the academic year in Mid-September (later by one week this year). Admissions will still share a bit more information with admitted students at stuff like accepted events and overnights.

I think Stanford must have felt self conscious about its declining admit rate. Would not be surprised if it goes below 3% within 3 years. I believe they are increasing their incoming Class size every year; they got enough demand, land and money to do it unlike some colleges which might be limited by the land size.

One thing I think it’s unfair to include 4 year graduation rate when it comes to ranking (by USNWR for example) Stanford because Stanford students tend to take off time to do other stuff before graduating. When it comes to top colleges, I don’t know why this factor should be important.

Graduation rates mostly proxy admission selectivity, with a dash of other factors (e.g. may be lower if the school enrolls more low SES or nontraditional students who take lighter course loads due to work obligations, or if coop or other semesters off school are common).

But many people believe that they reflect how likely a given student is to graduate on time, even though it should be obvious that a student who can get into Stanford is very likely to graduate in four years even if s/he attends SFSU (18% graduation rate).

Perhaps more relevant are graduation rates relative to those expected based on admission selectivity, though one must still be careful to determine whether the difference is due to school treatment effects or student factors that may or may not apply to an individual student.

If you’re talking about colleges misleading applicants, parents, US News, that happens a lot even by the selective ones. As we discussed on another thread, student faculty ratios which give the idea that a SF ratio of say 6:1, means your typical class will have five other students, and that doesn’t happen, especially freshman STEM classes.

The second area they mislead is the type of environment, we know from students at these campuses, that some of the selective ones are competitive, maybe cutthroat and are stressful. Does that show up on the website? Anyway I think we’re getting off topic.

Perhaps this may have more to do with major or pre-professional path. Some paths, such as pre-med, require very high college GPAs to stay in, so they may be more cutthroat or stressful for all but the very top students at the college.

Transparency is needed. Disclosing numbers are important even for Stanford. Bashar Malkawi

@websensation Stanford has plans to increase class size which have been publicly filed. The constraint is not land or money, but what the local authorities will allow to be built. The number of beds is the limiting factor.

The admission process is already opaque by the nature, maybe sharing one indicator doesn’t matter really to the game.

Four year graduation rates are important financial considerations. Five year plans not embedded into a co op program. Extra semesters and overseas adventures cost money.

I don’t know if Stanford is trying to reduce the number of applications or to increase it. It seems to me that effect of the move would be to increase it. I imagine Stanford knows this too. Its like telling people the odds of winning a lottery ticket before they buy it — if the odds are daunting not publicizing them would likely create more sales. This is indeed a brilliant move by the school to generate some good coverage and interest in the media while further increase its selectivity.