Last year, Stanford announced that the school will no longer be posting acceptance rates starting in 2019. We wanted to find out why.
In 2018, The Harvard Crimson wrote a (potentially biased) article about why they wouldn’t be following Stanford’s new model. Both Harvard and Stanford’s admissions rates have been below 6% since 2015, among the lowest in the country. But, if Harvard is proud of their acceptance rate, why is Stanford shying away from theirs? We started by looking at another school that has withheld their admissions data in years past: the Huntsman program at The University of Pennsylvania.
We appreciated Penn’s candor. It only took one call to get the information we were looking for: the Huntsman program does not report their acceptance rates because they feel it would dissuade students from applying. They would not give us a percentage, but an online search suggests that it’s impossibly low—around 1-2%.
Calls to Stanford didn’t go quite as well. We were directed to an outdated article on The Washington Post, published in 2016. In it, Stanford’s dean says that rates are “distracting” and that all top-tiered schools are highly competitive.
Also adding “what’s the difference between 7% and 4%”? With that, we do agree. At TKG, we often relate acceptance rates to the daily weather report. If there’s a 5-25% chance of rain, you probably won’t bring an umbrella. Wouldn’t be worth the effort. But if there’s an 8% chance of getting into a school, a good number of students think it’s worth giving a shot because it seems high compared to the 4% school.
We recently wrote a detailed blog post about the college acceptance rates from 2019. (You’ll notice that the data from Stanford for 2019 is missing.) Their acceptance rate for the class of 2022 was 4.3%, and it’s safe to say that the rate didn’t go up for the class of 2023.
We are trying to demystify the process. Yes, you can grab your TI-83 and scour the internet for the number of students accepted to Stanford, then divide that by the number of applications. But a lot of online resources are inaccurate, which is why we did the work of calling the school directly.
There’s a lot of online chatter about Stanford’s admissions data (or lack thereof). Some say that Stanford knows their admissions data will be found out anyway. The official line of the school, as of now, is the same as Huntman’s: they don’t want students to be put off by the low acceptance rate. But to some, unreleased data at one of the most competitive schools in the nation could (and probably will) make the school even more alluring. As with every school, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get into Stanford. So instead of falling into the trap of applying “just because it’s Stanford,” make a list of what you’re looking for (BEFORE looking at Stanford’s website) then ask yourself if it’s 1) a good fit and 2) a realistic goal.
If you are truly qualified to attend Stanford (and have the grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to prove it) then you should still apply. We just want to make clear how difficult it is to get in. More importantly, not going to Stanford (or not getting into Stanford) doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme. You have options. And we hate to see students waste time and energy applying to schools that ultimately aren’t the right fit.
At TKG, we work with students and families to create realistic school lists and help kids through every step of the process. Contact us here if you want to work with someone directly.