Her reflections as Dean of Admissions could apply to any highly selective college, even though the data is from the 1990s. For example, there are 26,000 high schools in the U.S. Stanford received applications from 4500 high schools in a typical year. Just think, all those students are likely in the top 10% of their class, and you can get an idea of how competitive it is to gain admission.
Special talent in art, music, drama, dance or math? Send supplemental materials, even if you are not majoring in that subject. Stanford (or any school) is interested in your abilities beyond the classroom for extra-curricular reasons. You may be able to contribute something to a campus that puts on plays, concerts, and recitals every year and has to replace graduating players, actors.
How to get noticed by Stanford? Here are some other measures of achievement that may impress the Admissions Committee:
- Earning the highest score (5) on multiple AP exams will catch their eye.
- Westinghouse Science Prize winners (now the Intel Talent Search)
- Olympic medalist
- Science Olympiads are places where Stanford recruits outstanding students
- Mathematical Society of America - their annual math competition gives Stanford an indication of who to recruit
The Role of Varsity Athletics:
She acknowleges that sometimes the lure of a winning season leads to questionable admission decisions. Coaches may push for certain (great) athletes that may not meet the academic standards at Stanford. That puts the admissions personnel in a tough position.
links verified 4/2013