2020-2021 Stanford University Application Tips

At Opus College Prep, we know that strong supplemental essays are the key to a competitive application. In this post, we will be sharing our best tips for student’s applying to Stanford University for the class of 2025. Stanford loves to admit students who showcase their love of learning for the sake of learning. They are looking for true scholars in and out of the classroom, and their supplemental essays help them learn more about how you’d fit that criteria.

We look forward to helping you stand out in Stanford’s applicant pool. If you have questions about these prompts or others, schedule a free consultation here!

Stanford University Prompt 1

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. (Minimum 100 words, maximum 250 words).

See what we said about learning?! They truly want to know what excites you in the world and what makes you passionate about learning. The key to this prompt is making your reader “genuinely excited” about what you’re excited about too. We would suggest responding in closer to 250 words here, so you have the time and space to paint a thorough picture for your reader.

First, set the scene for your Stanford admissions reader. Are you sitting at a computer spending hours on Reddit threads learning more about the creation of a new video game? Are you scouring YouTube first thing in the morning for Ted Talks on your favorite subject? Maybe you’ve traveled to destinations around the world and planned side trips for your family to see things you’ve learned about in textbooks. Whatever it is, make your reader as excited as you are about your curiosities and ideas.

Then, connect your response to Stanford. Does Stanford have a Professor who has given a TedTalk you’ve watched 14 times? Are you dying to learn from them on campus? Does Stanford offer a study abroad program that’s the perfect fit for your interests? Have they had recruiters on campus from the video game companies you’d love to work for in the future? You’ve missed the mark on this question if you don’t tie your love of learning to Stanford specifically. (You also miss the mark if your tie to Stanford is its location – there are other schools in the Bay Area, too!)

Prompt 2

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 – or us – get to know you better. (Minimum 100 words, maximum 250 words).

First, you are writing a note to a peer. Because of this, you can use a less formal tone. Second Stanford starts the prompt by saying that virtually all of their undergraduate students live on campus. If we lean into assumptions a little bit, Stanford is essentially saying that there is an undergraduate community on campus. So, for your response to this question, you’ll not only want to talk about yourself in terms of who you will be as a roommate, but also who you will be as a classmate in the Stanford community.

It’s best not to waste space here talking about wanting to do things with your roommate. If you talk about wanting to travel in California together, partake in Stanford University traditions together etc, you’re missing the point of this prompt. Your goal is to unveil new parts of your candidacy here, in a way that speaks to your peers. Are you a mentor currently in high school? Could you help your roommate in classes that you currently excel in? Are you neat and tidy, and will that help you excel in balancing the rigors of Stanford academics and the campus organizations you hope to join? Do your best to tie your character traits to your impact on the Stanford community at large.

Prompt 3

Tell us something that is meaningful to you, and why? (Minimum 100 words, maximum 250 words).

This is a pretty open-ended question, which is great strategically for most students. Take a look back at the rest of your application. Your goal with the entire application is to never repeat information. So when reading back through everything you have so far, what haven’t you spent time talking about yet? Look back through your extracurriculars. Is there something you can explain in further detail here? Think about your family, your mentors and your teachers. Do you have a character trait or skill you haven’t gotten to list on the application yet? Is it meaningful because you learned it from someone important to you? Use this prompt to cover any remaining aspects of your candidacy that you haven’t been able to address yet.

We hope our insights are helpful as you tackle your application to Stanford for the 2020/2021 application season! Schedule a free consultation here or email laura@opuscollegeprep.com. We can’t wait to help!

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