Admissions

I just recently got my rejection letter from Stanford University, as did roughly 6,000 other people. Obviously, I’m not happy about it, but I’m not gonna get too broken up about it.

Stanford is an out-of-state school, and pretty darn expensive. In-state, I pay less to start with, and there are a lot more scholarships available. But that’s not what I’m writing about.

I’m planning to talk about the admissions process. Stanford did a couple notable things, one of which I liked, and one which I didn’t.

The first thing, which I approved of: they changed the admissions date. I applied Restrictive Early Action, and knew from the start that I’d be hearing back today, December 15th. In the past week I found out that it’d be at roughly 3 PM Pacific Time, and by email. However, come Friday, Stanford announced that they had changed the date. To Friday, at 3PM Pacific. Which was initially annoying, but actually quite helpful. It reduced my stress – I’d blocked off all of Sunday on my calendar, marked it down as “panic about Stanford” and planned to be sitting around gnawing my fingernails with terror. Instead, I spent a couple hours being distractedly nervous while going through classes, and checked my email when I got home. Far less suspense, and a lot less stress-eating.

Of course, there was part that I’m not a big fan of: the lack of transparency. Now, this isn’t just a Stanford thing: it’s the rule and seems to entirely lack an exception. “How does the admissions process work?” “We carefully evaluate each student.” Thanks. Helpful. Can I get, I dunno, some constructive criticism? Call it a habit, something trained into my by the American education system – if I got an F on an assignment, I rather expect to get it back, covered in red pen, telling me exactly what I did wrong. How I can do better next time. Instead I get a link to an article written by an admissions officer, talking about some guy who managed to get a Nobel Peace Price without having gone to Stanford. Good for him, but I don’t really care.

Perhaps it’s a bit naive to expect that, but we live in an age of increasing transparency. Oh well.

(C’mon WikiLeaks, get me those papers so I can see what I did wrong.)