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 volunteers 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.
You are not eligible to participate as an OVAL volunteer if you:
Have a child or sibling who is in the last year of high school, whether or not they plan to apply to Stanford.
Each year, a number of volunteers ask if they may remain active while they have a grandchild, niece or nephew who is a high school senior. We would ask that alumni who have grandchildren, nieces or nephews living in their OVAL chapter mark themselves as inactive for the year that the child is a high school senior. Should you want to consult on your situation, please contact our office.
- Are a college admission professional (including a high school guidance counselor or independent consultant).
- Interview for any other undergraduate institution.
- Are engaged in volunteer or professional undergraduate admission activities.
Parents may serve in volunteer roles of college fair representative, regional information session panelist or admit reception volunteer or host (not as interviewers or interview training workshop hosts).
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.
In order to participate as a volunteer, you must register for the OVAL program. The MyOVAL volunteer portal is being updated and the registration process is not available at this time. Please visit our website again in July to register for OVAL. Registering for OVAL will ensure that you receive program information and does not obligate you to participate.
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 expand. We appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to be ambassadors for Stanford's Office of Undergraduate Admission.
Once you log in to the MyOVAL portal (currently being updated), click on the "My OVAL 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 optional secondary and tertiary chapters. 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 email@example.com. 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 (currently being updated). 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 2019-20 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 58 countries as noted below.
United States and U.S. Territories
- Forty-nine full states (all but California) plus Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.
- Fifty-two California counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba. Additional California counties will be added in the future.
If the alumni interview program is not yet offered where you live, there may be other volunteer admission activities in your area.
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 interview invitation to 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), you are required to suspend your OVAL volunteer activities through the full Stanford admission cycle. OVAL volunteers should update their eligibility status on their MyOVAL Profile via the portal (currently being updated).
No. Interview resources extend only to the designated interview areas. A student's application is considered complete with or without an interview.
No. If you are assigned a candidate you know, even peripherally, you must recuse yourself 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, you must recuse yourself from interviewing that particular applicant. This policy safeguards the best interests of applicants, interviewers and the University.
Applicants in current interview areas may be offered an optional alumni interview subsequent to the submission of their admission material. Interviews for Restrictive Early Action will take place in November, and Regular Decision interviews from approximately early January–mid-February.
Typically, alumni will conduct at least 4-6 interviews over the course of the admission cycle (November – February). 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 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.
OVAL volunteers are welcome to attend interview training workshops each year, though only one training program is required. Attending another training is a great way to stay up-to-date with the OVAL program and connect with other volunteers even for those who are already trained.
Please email the OVAL team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email your OVAL chapter chair who is the regional program leader.