An external review has been commissioned by the Stanford Graduate School of Business after information came to light that the elite graduate business school was not as need-blind in its admissions policies as it purported. We previously reported on how a Stanford GSB student uncovered — through an intense data analysis — that the school factored in gender and international status when awarding need-based fellowship grants, contrary to the school’s representations that these grants were awarded based strictly on need. As it turns out, women and domestic MBA candidates received preferential treatment in the awarding of these grants. Addressing this scandal, as reported by “The Wall Street Journal,” Stanford GSB’s assistant dean of admissions Kirsten Moss has announced the creation of a new position to oversee any changes to the school’s financial aid policies. In business, they call this damage control.
The Takeaway Lesson from the Stanford GSB Scandal
We at Ivy Coach have been saying it from atop our soap box in admissions for decades. Schools are not truly need-blind. Do most schools claim to be need-blind? You bet. Do admissions officers tout how their schools don’t factor in one’s ability to pay when debating a student’s case for admission? Yes. But colleges lie. Admissions officers lie. Schools are not truly need-blind. Not in undergraduate admissions. Not in medical, business, or law school admissions either. If schools truly were need-blind, then why oh why on the vast majority of college and graduate school applications does it ask if students will be applying for financial aid? Shouldn’t this question be on a separate document that the admissions officers evaluating the files are not privy to? Yes, yes, yes. The fact is that schools rely on tuition dollars. They rely on students who will be able to pay the full cost of tuition. They can’t admit a class in which everyone, or virtually everyone, needs financial assistance. These schools do not wish to have to dip into their endowments.
Parents and students so often gasp when we tell them that admissions officers lie, that what they were told at information sessions isn’t actually the case. Enough with the gasps. Stanford University is perhaps the most elite institution in all the world and its renowned business school got caught with its hand in the proverbial financial aid cookie jar. A student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business happened to have a lot of time on his hands and he happened to have access to very sensitive information related to student fellowship grants. Imagine if a student at every college and graduate school had the time — and the access — to analyze every university’s data. If they did, you’d find a whole lot of hands — not just Stanford’s — in that cookie jar.
Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Stanford] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
[Every college! And Rabbit too!]
Have a question about need-blind admissions policies or about financial aid at Stanford GSB? Let us know your question, your concern, your deepest and darkest secrets, as well as what you ate for breakfast by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!