stanford university admissions guidance
What makes Stanford University so special?
Stanford University (officially called "Leland Stanford Junior University") is a private university in the city of Stanford in northern California. The university was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was a former Governor of California and U.S. Senator; he made his fortune as a railroad tycoon.
Although the movie Legally Blonde is based on Harvard Law School, it was written based on experiences at Stanford's Law School.
Stanford has many successful sports teams. Stanford students have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1908. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Games (12 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Games.
Stanford may be best known for the startups whose founders came from the school, to name a few: the founders of Yahoo, Netflix, Instagram, Google, PayPal, and Nvidia all graduated from Stanford.
Prompts for Stanford's 2017-18 Undergrad Supplemental Essays
Coalition Application Essay Prompts
Choose one of the following prompts. The Coalition recommends you write an essay between 300 and 400 words and no longer than 500 to 550 words.
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
Has there been a time when you've had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Common Application Essay Prompts
Choose one of the following prompts. There is a 250-word minimum and a 650-word maximum.
Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Stanford Short Essays
Candidates respond to all three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.
The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.
Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?
Location: Cambridge Massachusetts
Year Founded: 1636
US News Ranking: 2
Application Deadline: January 1st
Must receive SAT/ACT scores by: March 6th
2016 regular decision acceptance rate: 4.2%
Total applications received (2016): 34,285