This article was originally written for the Stanford Review's Fiat Lux blog
Back in 2007, Stanford University President John Hennessy wrote a column in the Stanford alumni magazine exploring the idea of expanding the freshman class. A few months later, a financial meltdown and a multi-billion dollar loss to the endowment pretty much ended that discussion. Times are changing though. The endowment is back up, and the trustees recently granted approval to building the first new undergraduate dorm in 20 years.
With more spots, Stanford will be able to make changes to its admissions policies concerning the number of admits and the number of students per class (policies that have by and large remained unchanged for years). Part of that conversation should include the current status of transfer applicants to the university.
I have attached two pictures to set the tone.
Note: These pictures have been lost to the internet
Stanford obviously has a vested interest in expanding the freshman class, but I want to direct attention to the interesting advantages of expanding the transfer classes. Transfers offer the university the ability to admit students with vastly different life experiences than is typical of freshman applicants – they have attended other universities, and many of them have unique interests that are particularly well suited for Stanford.
More than anything else, admitting transfers acknowledges that there is more than one “path” in life, and that people can and do change and develop over time. Should we increase the number of transfers, and if so, by how many? Much like the original Hennessy column, the answers can develop over time, but the conversation should begin now.