Stanford reaffirms plan to invite frosh, sophomores to return in winter — conditions permitting

Around 20% of first-year students opted to take gap year, undergraduate enrollment drops

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Stanford will plan for the winter quarter under the assumption that first-years, sophomores and transfer students will be invited to campus if public health conditions permit, according to Friday’s Re-Approaching Stanford newsletter

The University also announced that students with “compelling academic needs” can apply for housing during the winter quarter regardless of their quarterly cohort assignment and released enrollment data that shows a drop in undergraduate enrollment and an unprecedented number of admitted students electing to take a gap year. 

Stanford had initially planned for first-years, sophomores and transfer students to be on campus in the autumn quarter, but later suspended its plans.

The University announced in August that, conditions permitting, first-years and sophomores would be welcomed to campus in the winter. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church reiterated that Stanford is currently planning for the winter quarter “with the working assumption that COVID conditions will enable the university to invite frosh, sophomores and new transfers to be on campus in residence next term.” 

Graduate students and undergraduate students with special circumstances, such as students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, facing visa complications, or who have unsuitable home environments for remote learning, were permitted to reside on campus this quarter. 6,300 students, including approximately 800 undergraduate students, are currently living on campus, according to the University. The University recently announced that students on campus will be able to form social pods of up to eight students and that some indoor instruction can resume as a result of the county’s updated higher education guidance.

Students with approved special circumstances who wish to reside on campus during the winter quarter regardless of their cohort assignment must apply for housing by Oct. 9. Students who were approved to live on campus during the fall review process for special circumstances do not need to apply again to be approved to live on campus. Students who qualify under a new “compelling academic need” special circumstance will also be provided housing on campus, the newsletter announced. 

Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote that this addition will “ensure that our students who need access to campus facilities in the winter quarter to remain on track in their academic program are able to do so.” Departments and programs will be responsible for reviewing student requests and making recommendations to the vice provost for undergraduate education.

Around 20% of first-year students opted to defer enrollment instead of matriculating this academic year, according to enrollment data released in Wednesday’s Campus Conversation.” 378 first-year students and 14 transfer students opted to take a gap year.

The number of admitted students choosing to take gap years at Stanford is similar to peer institutions: 341 first-year students admitted to Yale University and 340 first-year students admitted to Harvard College elected to defer enrollment for a year. While Harvard and Stanford both enroll approximately 1,700 first-year students each year, Yale enrolls around 1,300 first-year students.

Stanford also announced a drop in undergraduate enrollment in the 2020-21 academic year. 1,676 first-year and transfer students matriculated at Stanford this year compared to 1,701 students last year. “Currently at the undergraduate level, Stanford has about 82 percent of last fall’s number of students enrolled full time, while another 9 percent are taking a Flex Term,” according to the University.

Contact Cameron Ehsan at cehsan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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