January 31, 2009

So many applicants, so few slots

Some 30,348 high school seniors have applied for admission to Stanford next fall. That’s a 20 percent increase over last year and the largest applicant pool ever. However, fewer than 8 percent of them will be allowed to fill the 1,670 slots available for the class of 2013. And unlike the situation at many other universities, no slots are ever reserved for athletes. Therefore, the coaches of Stanford’s 35 varsity sports can only hope that the athletes they’d been recruiting and coveting successfully get through the admissions office’s rigorous review process.

That’s the bottom line, according to Kiyoe Hashimoto, assistant dean of admissions, who spoke to the Fast Break Club after the women’s basketball team’s victory over visiting USC. Kiyoe serves as the admissions office’s liaison to varsity sports. She and her 27 colleagues also divide applications geographically, so in addition to athletes, she reviews applicants from other countries and Massachusetts.

Kiyoe works closely with the coaches and emphasizes two major themes – communication and trust. Although some applicants are still awaiting acceptance, others, including most athletes, know their status because she reviews their transcripts fairly early in the process because of NCAA deadlines for letters of intent. In fact, assistant head coach Amy Tucker, who coordinates recruiting for the women’s basketball team, already had some high school juniors’ transcripts for Kiyoe to read.

Kiyoe and her colleagues want to make sure that the athletes can make an informed decision before committing to Stanford. They don’t want to lead them on if they won’t be a good fit for the university. Likewise, they don’t want the coaches to expend time and money recruiting these athletes. That’s where communication comes in.

Trust between her office and the coaches means that “we trust that they’re bringing us the best student athletes out there,” she said. The coaches have to trust that her office will select student athletes who are right for Stanford.

In reviewing applicants, admissions officers look at grades, the kinds of classes such as advanced placement or honors, and scores on standardized tests for the first cut. The common application used by Stanford and hundreds of other schools also requires the applicant to write an essay and receive recommendations from two academic teachers. On top of that, Stanford’s supplemental application asks questions about books read, favorite music and historical events that the student would have liked to witness. Then it calls for three more essays.

“It’s a holistic process. It’s not just about the numbers. We’re looking for intangible qualities” such as intellectual curiosity and humor, she said. They want to know if the student is a nice person and if he or she is a team player.

Each application is read by three people. The first might be someone who’s familiar with the student’s geographic area. Kiyoe is the second reader. The third reader is the dean of admissions and financial aid.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer noted that when she applied for her job at Stanford, her first meeting was with the dean of admissions. “We work very closely with the admissions office,” she said. “They know what they’re doing.”

She also confirmed Stanford’s unwavering policy that athletes must go through the admissions process just like anyone else. She recalled the time when the office rejected a prized recruit, but when she asked the admissions officer about the rejection, she was told, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” End of discussion.

Turning her comments to that night’s 81-53 win over USC, Tara had nothing but praise for freshman forward Sarah Boothe, who had a career-high 16 points to go with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 19 minutes of playing time. “This was a breakout game for Sarah,” she said, noting that Sarah’s mother was at the game. It was the first time she had been at a game to see Sarah playing in a Stanford uniform. She also planned to use the weekend to go shopping with Sarah and decorate her room, which had been provided with only the necessities when Sarah’s father accompanied her to campus from their home in Gurnee, Ill., last fall.

Tara also complimented Sarah’s teammates, especially guard Jeanette Pohlen, who “did a really nice job for us.” The coach also was pleased that “we rebound, we run,” but there were too many turnovers – 22. “That gives us something to work on in practice,” she said. She attributed part of the reason for Sarah’s progress through the season to junior center Jayne Appel, Sarah’s fellow post player. “Jayne helps Sarah,” she said.

Besides the play of Sarah, Jeanette and Jayne, Tara cited solid contributions by forwards Kayla Pedersen, Jillian Harmon and Nneka Ogwumike, along with guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. She said she’s hoping at least one more player will step up consistently.

No comments:

Post a Comment