Inside the admission process of Stanford

How early decision applications are really read through

Jack Marker, page editor

A committee of eight pale and glossy-eyed admissions officers is sitting in a conference room at Stanford University. It is three in the morning and there’s still a stack of five thousand applications lying in the center of the round table. Coffee laced with Red Bull is placed in front of their respective spots. The head admissions officer announces, “We need to get through all of these applications tonight, so drink up everyone.”

They start drinking the concoction while reading an application. The application reads, 36 ACT, 4.3 weighted grade point average. The student founded their own tutoring company for rich, unmotivated kids; they are the robotics team captain and the student body president. One of the admissions officers shouts out, “Did they even go to a dance?” They all concur and throw it into the overflowing decline basket.

Onto the next application. This applicant scored a 35 on the ACT, had a 4.4 weighted GPA, started a nonprofit to help families in Haiti, and is the captain of both the debate and speech teams. The admission officer at the opposite side of the table yells out, “He didn’t even qualify for debate nationals!” He takes the application and doesn’t even bother reading the letters of recommendation before he puts it into the decline basket. “Why do they even bother to apply to this elite institution?” he grumbles.

An admissions officer who wears glasses and is slightly overweight then starts to read a very interesting application to the group. This applicant scored a 30 on the ACT, had a 3.9 weighted GPA, founded the high school movie watching club, and has binge-watched every single episode of Friends, The Office, and Parks and Recreation in a single month. One officer contributes “I really admire her work ethic and her stamina. All in favor of her acceptance raise your hand.” There is a unanimous vote for her acceptance, and they put the application in the almost empty acceptance basket.

An admissions officer wearing joggers and a sweatshirt, half asleep and suffering from halitosis, starts reading the next application. The applicant earned a silver medal in freestyle skiing at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, 35 ACT, 4.0 unweighted GPA, and every Sunday leads water aerobics at Green Pastures Nursing Home. An overweight male admissions officer whose fat envelops the arms of the chair says, “Are you kidding me? Silver medal, not a gold? Decline!”

A slow-talking southern male reads the next application. This girl has aced both the ACT and the SAT, taken all 27 of the Advanced Placement courses the school has to offer, received a five on 26 of those AP tests and a four on the Music Theory AP test. She also fundraised money in order to teach more AP classes at her high school and is a fill-in substitute teacher at her high school. “What an overachiever, probably never been to a party in her life,” the admissions officers declare in unison. Applicant denied.

A female admissions officer is seemingly excited about the next applicant and begins waving the application. This student is a first chair tuba player in the concert band, received a standing ovation for her rendition of A Flight of a Bumble Bee, and had a 29 ACT with a mediocre 3.33 GPA. The female admissions officer who is holding the application sings “This one’s a keeper.” The rest of the officers are too tired to argue and admit her into Stanford.

It’s almost dawn with still over a thousand applicants to review. “I do not know if we are going to make it this year. There are more applications than ever before. It’s daybreak and we still have so many more dreams to crush,” the head admission officer exclaimed.