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.
Through volunteer activities, the OVAL program augments the Stanford undergraduate admission process from the recruitment of applicants to the yielding of admitted students. The OVAL program is organized by regional chapters. Volunteers are affiliated with up to three regional chapters.
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.
Stanford alumni (undergraduate or graduate) and parents of Stanford undergraduates who meet our specific Eligibility Requirements.
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 OVAL 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 take place September–April. New volunteers interested in interviewing will have an opportunity to complete the interview training requirement 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 an ambassador 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you log in to the MyOVAL portal, hover over "My OVAL Profile" at the top of the page and click “My OVAL Chapters/Interview Preferences.” On this page, you will see your current OVAL chapter(s). To update any chapter, click on the “Update Chapter(s)/Interview Preferences” button. If your address has changed, you should also update your contact information for your University record. You can update this by clicking on “My Personal Information” under “My OVAL Profile.” 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 up to two additional optional chapters (secondary and tertiary chapters). You will receive notifications and invitations for activities specific to your chapter(s). We encourage alumni who live near the borders of other OVAL region(s) to select those locations as secondary and tertiary chapters if interested in participating in OVAL activities in those chapters. Volunteers who typically travel during the interview cycle to other OVAL interview region(s) may select those locations as secondary and tertiary chapters.
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.
OVAL volunteers represent Stanford at approved college fairs worldwide answering questions, distributing materials (provided by the Office of Undergraduate Admission), and generally serving as ambassadors for Stanford. Fairs are approved by admission officers who serve as the territory manager for a region. If you are made aware of a college fair in your area that is requesting Stanford representation, please direct the college fair coordinator to email email@example.com. To ensure sufficient processing time, requests must be received at least 45 days in advance of a fair.
Further information regarding the college fair program is provided on the MyOVAL portal. 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.
The optional interview is designed to be a casual, comfortable conversation between an alumnus/a and an applicant. Following an interview, the interviewer submits a report that becomes 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 their 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 My OVAL Profile.
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 from interviewing that applicant. 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 and the University.
Applicants in current interview areas may be offered an optional alumni interview subsequent to the submission of their completed application. Interviews for Restrictive Early Action applicants occur during the first few weeks of November. Interviews for Regular Decision applicants occur from early January to mid-February.
Typically, alumni 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 are assigned based on geographical location and the number of available alumni volunteers. Once assigned, applicant contact information is made available to the interviewer. Volunteers invite applicants to interview by email using the email noted in the candidate’s application. Volunteers may also follow-up about an interview invitation via text message or phone call.
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 the MyOVAL portal and navigate to the My Personal Information page under the My OVAL Profile tab.
OVAL volunteers are welcome to attend interview training workshops each year, though they are only required to complete training once. For those who are already trained, participating in another workshop is a great way to stay up-to-date with the OVAL program and connect with other volunteers.
Please email the OVAL team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email your OVAL chapter chair who is the regional program leader.