Admission Volunteers (OVAL)
OVAL Frequently Asked Questions
Stanford's OVAL Program (Outreach Volunteer Alumni Link) is an initiative by the Office of Undergraduate Admission that engages alumni (and sometimes parent) volunteers in enhancing Stanford University's presence and visibility across the United States and around the world.
The OVAL program augments the Stanford undergraduate admission process from the recruitment of applicants to the yielding of admitted students through volunteer activities. The OVAL program is organized by regional chapters. Volunteers are affiliated with a chapter(s).
In select chapters, volunteers for the OVAL program may attend college fairs, assist with regional information sessions conducted by admission officers, interview applicants (alumni volunteers only), host/attend admitted student receptions, and host interview training workshops.
OVAL members must be alumni (undergraduate or graduate) or parents of current Stanford undergraduates. An understanding of or willingness to learn about Stanford's unique undergraduate experience is required.
Alumni who live in one of the interview areas are eligible to be interviewers. Parent OVAL volunteers are not eligible to serve as interviewers.
You are not eligible to participate as an OVAL volunteer if you are a college admission professional (including a high school guidance counselor or independent consultant), if you have a child or sibling who is in the last year of high school, if you interview for any other undergraduate institution, or are engaged in volunteer or professional undergraduate admission activities. (Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure of your eligibility.)
In general, Stanford faculty and staff who are also Stanford alumni may serve as OVAL volunteers. Employees of the Office of Undergraduate Admission, Financial Aid, and Visitor Information Services are not eligible to participate.
To volunteer for the OVAL program, alumni and parents of Stanford undergraduates must complete a simple registration process. Participation in the interview program (limited to alumni) requires additional training.
Please visit the OVAL registration page for step-by-step instructions. Registering for OVAL will ensure that you receive program information and does not obligate you to participate. As a registered volunteer you will have access to the MyOVAL portal. This secure portal provides resources to support volunteer engagement. Interviewers will use the MyOVAL portal to accept interview assignments and submit interview reports. Regional volunteer leaders and the Office of Undergraduate Admission's Alumni Volunteer Relations team will be able to view your areas of interest and contact you regarding volunteer activities in your region (also referred to as your OVAL chapter).
The Admission process is dynamic and cyclical; depending on your interests and the needs of the Office of Undergraduate Admission, you may be contacted at any time during the year, though most activities are September–April. New volunteers interested in interviewing will likely have an opportunity to attend an in-person interview training workshop in September or October.
Much of the success of OVAL depends on having a reliable group of volunteers at the ready. As our network grows and evolves, opportunities for volunteers across the United States and around the world expands. We appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to be ambassadors for Stanford's Office of Undergraduate Admission.
If you recently registered online for OVAL and did not receive an automatic email confirmation within 24 hours, please contact us at email@example.com.
Once you log in to the MyOVAL portal, click on the "MyOVAL Profile" tab to update your profile information and preferred OVAL chapter(s). Please notify your chapter chair if you are making a change during the admission cycle.
Volunteers are required to select a primary chapter (where you live) and may select an optional secondary chapter. You will receive notifications and invitations for activities specific to your chapter(s). We encourage alumni in interview areas who live near the borders of another OVAL interview region and those who typically travel during the interview cycle to an OVAL interview region to select that location as a secondary chapter.
Yes! There may be other OVAL opportunities available to alumni, such as representing Stanford at college fairs and regional information sessions, serving on panels, and attending/hosting admitted student receptions. Once the interview program begins in your area, you will already be in the MyOVAL database. Until the interview program begins in the area where you live, you are not eligible to interview in other OVAL chapters.
See the Volunteer Roles page for a list of OVAL opportunities.
Attending College Fairs and Other Events
OVAL volunteers are welcome to serve as Stanford representatives at approved traditional college fairs. Fairs are approved by admission officers who serve as the territory manager for a region. If you would like to request approval to attend a college fair for Stanford or are unsure if an event in which you are interested would be considered a traditional college fair, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to send information 30 days prior to the fair so that we may process the request in a timely manner. Further information regarding the college fair program is provided on the MyOVAL portal (after secure login). We appreciate your assistance in supporting Stanford's outreach efforts across the United States and around the world.
The Office of Undergraduate Admission has identified two compelling reasons for offering interviews:
- Outreach - An interview offers applicants a unique opportunity to learn about Stanford in a personal and meaningful way.
- Evaluation - An interview offers the Office of Undergraduate Admission an opportunity to learn more about applicants beyond the written application.
For the 2017–18 admission cycle, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will operate the optional interview program (based on applicant's high school location) in 53 locations in the United States and U.S. territories and 57 countries, as noted below.
United States and U.S. Territories
- Forty-nine full states (all but California) plus Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington D.C.
- Forty-five California counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba. Additional California counties to be included for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 admission cycles.
If the alumni interview program is not yet offered where you live, there may be other volunteer admission activities in your area. We encourage all alumni interested in volunteering to register.
The optional interview is designed to be a casual, comfortable conversation between an alumnus/a and an applicant. Following an interview, the interviewer will submit a report which will become part of the applicant's admission file.
The interview report provides a supplementary perspective on the applicant that the Admission Committee will consider as one piece among many in the holistic review process.
No. The interview is not required. Since alumni volunteer resources are limited, we may not be able to extend an invitation to interview each applicant attending high school in an interview area.
Applications for students who do not interview, whether by choice or due to program limitations, will be considered complete without an interview.
If your child or sibling is in the last year of high school (regardless of whether he/she plans to apply to Stanford), we require that you suspend your OVAL volunteer activities through the full Stanford admission cycle. OVAL volunteers should update their eligibility status on their MyOVAL Profile via the Volunteer Login portal.
No. Interview resources extend only to the designated interview areas. A student's application is considered complete with or without an interview.
No. If an interviewer is assigned a candidate he/she happens to know, even peripherally, we require that the interviewer recuse him or herself and request another applicant to interview. Similarly, if you have a social, business or professional relationship with an applicant or a member of an applicant's family, we require that you excuse yourself from interviewing that particular applicant. This policy safeguards the best interests of applicants and the University.
No. As an OVAL volunteer, submitting a recommendation letter would be considered a conflict of interest. Providing admission consulting or coaching during the application process, even informally, is not allowed. Should you participate in these activities, whether professionally or on a volunteer basis, you would be ineligible for the OVAL program.
We will offer applicants in current interview areas an optional alumni interview for both the Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision admission cycles. Interviews for Restrictive Early Action will take place in November, and Regular Decision interviews from approximately early January–mid-February.
We estimate alumni will conduct at least 3–5 interviews over the course of the admission cycle (November – February). This number may vary due to the makeup of the applicant pool in any given year or region. Some alumni enjoy the program so much that they offer to do 10 or more interviews.
Interviews will be assigned based on geographical location and the number of available alumni volunteers. Once assigned, applicant contact information will be available to the interviewer. Alumni will call or email students and invite them to interview.
Beginning in August, registered OVAL volunteers living in interview areas who have indicated an interest in interviewing will receive relevant training workshop information via their Stanford Alumni Association preferred email address. To check or update your email, login to MyOVAL and navigate to the MyOVAL Profile page.
OVAL volunteers are welcome to attend interview training workshops each year, though only one training program is required. Volunteers who attend training are marked as trained for the future.
Please email us at email@example.com or email your OVAL chapter chair who is the regional program leader.