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Why are people upmodding this? The intent of the OP was clear to me: schools are supposed to be a meritocracy, and if his friend was much more qualified and got rejected, why is this guy there?

I TAed my first course at Stanford this quarter, and I was surprised at the quality of work some people turn in. I mentioned this to a couple friends who were undergrads here and they both told me the same thing - Stanford undergrads are often not 99th percentile academically, but have done something impressive. For example, one person told me he had a guy in his freshman dorm who was the #1 (or 2 or 3?) model airplane builder in the US. Admittance to Stanford is not solely based upon scores/grades.

Don't ask me to explain or justify this admissions system - I'm just a student, and a grad student at that, so I've neither effected nor been affected by it.

Who says schools are supposed to be a meritocracy? Schools, especially private ones, can admit whomever they want. Apparently Standford places some value on a diverse student body. Say what you will about this guy in particular, but I don't think anyone wants a school full of valedictorians, which the Standford admissions office could easily make happen. If not, then some overachiever has to get cut.

SAT score alone is not factor of meritocracy, the whole application counts.

If schools are to be a meritocracy, what constitutes sufficient merit to get into Stanford? That was the thrust of my informational question, and I'd be happy to hear responses from anyone who has an opinion on that issue.

Some minimal standard of intellectual ability and interest. That really shocked me when I got to Stanford. I met people who'd gone to fairly decent high schools who were taking what was basically remedial math, and plenty more people who didn't really seem that interested in their classes or majors. I had a reaction similar to the OP when I saw that kid had a 1300. I knew plenty of smart, motivated people with better test scores who they could have still drawn a very diverse class from.

I'm not an American, so I don't know what a 1300 score says about a person. But if I was Stanford, I would be interested in the potential of a person, and not just what they have done. There are lots of "smart" people who are best in their class, but falls behind when they start at a higher level of education.

There may be many reasons why Stanford wanted to give him a chance.

Perhaps they saw something more in him? Perhaps he had a part time job his last year, so that he couldn't spend so much time perfecting his score? He can now focus 100% on Stanford without worrying about money (most of the time), and can probably more than keep up with the "elite".

The article also mention that students who come from families who can afford more, spend money on better high schools, SAT preparation, private teachers etc. to get a high score. In that case, a 1300 might not be so bad, when others need so much extra help.

I'm not an American, so I don't know what a 1300 score says about a person.

Here's a current chart showing how many students in the most recently reported high school class (students who graduated from high school in 2008) scored at different levels as a sum of scores from the critical reading section (200 to 800 standard score points possible, scores rounded to the nearest ten) and from the math section (same scoring) when they took the SAT for their best individual total score for one sitting.


Although you are not an American, you have a good understanding of what else college admission committees look for besides high test scores alone. Your other comments mention several issues that admission committees claim to look at when deciding on applications.

Stanford's most recently reported interquartile ranges for SAT section scores of enrolled first-year students are here:


Please note that a few years ago, when the student mentioned in the newspaper article was admitted, the ranges would have been a bit lower.

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