The university offers a variety of summer and extra-academic programs for high school students. Many students do these programs to study something that interests them and have an enjoyable summer experience. However, one question that always arises is whether students who have taken a Stanford-affiliated program have an advantage in the admissions process over those who have not. But students who have participated often speak highly of the program, at least those who went on to attend Stanford.
Taylor Winfield ‘13 participated in Stanford’s High School Summer College, which according to the university website “provides academic, social, and intellectual opportunities that cannot be found in a high school classroom.”
“I did Summer College to get to know Stanford campus better before applying to colleges and to take some interesting courses,” Winfield said. “I have wanted to go to Stanford since kindergarden so this time at Stanford only fed my fire to come.”
Christian Kamkoff ‘14, who also participated in Summer College, echoed Winfield’s desire from youth to attend Stanford. “In eighth grade I took a tour at Stanford with my class and was very impressed by the university. What drew me was the chance to participate in a program at a prestigious university while I was still in high school,” Kamkoff said.
“I definitely hoped that my participation in the program would improve my chances of getting into Stanford as I was beginning to consider going there,” Kamkoff continued.
Although summer program participants hope for an advantage in the admissions process, the actual effect is ambiguous.
“Online High Schools Attract Elite Names,” a Nov. 19, 2011 New York Times article by Alan Schwarz, describes the increasingly popular Stanford Online High School.
According to the article, “the typical online high school student lives in a remote area, was previously home-schooled or is deeply involved in an extracurricular activity that is incompatible with traditional schooling.”
In the article, Stanford’s provost, John Etchemendy, says “I don’t see this for a second competing with quality high schools, but for some people this could be an education they can’t get.”
The high school’s executive director Raymond Ravaglia suggests in the article that the advantage Online High School students gain in admissions is minimal at best. “Ravaglia said the only advantage his students got in applying to Stanford was admissions officers’ familiarity with and respect for the program.”
Bob Patterson, director of admission at Stanford, did not suggest that students who participate in Stanford-affiliated programs have an advantage in getting into Stanford specifically: “It is not suggested that they will benefit from the process, but we do want to see students who do the most with their time.”
However, echoing Ravaglia’s sentiment, Patterson suggests that because admissions officers know of the rigor and legitimacy of Stanford-affiliated programs, they acknowledge students’ meaningful use of their summer breaks.
“Students who participate in something meaning over the summer benefit in the admission process. If they are enrolled in college level courses during the
summer, we will take their grades into consideration,” he stated.
“We want students to engage in something they enjoy doing and not because they think it will help
them in the admission process,” he continued, “If a student has to work for the summer to help support the family or if they enroll in online courses, we view them as actively engaging in something they find beneficial.”