When you think of the top universities in the United States, Harvard and Stanford come to mind. While Harvard is known for its prime law and medical programs, Stanford produces the best in the tech industry, as well as top authors, astronauts, court judges, and even a president. It is no surprise that the Stanford requirements for acceptance are high. Many, however, still wonder how to get into Stanford.
Stanford boasts a world-class education, unreachable athletic excellence, and connections that will open unbelievable doors for successful applicants. While the Stanford acceptance rate is low, thousands of applicants list this college as their dream school and want to know how to get accepted into Stanford. Below is everything you should know to improve your chances of acceptance.
All About Stanford Admissions
Stanford admits over 1,700 freshmen and 30 transfer students each year. The admissions officials review each application and base their admission decisions on academic excellence, intellectual vitality, and personal context. Like MIT and Harvard, Stanford University values applicants with technical experience and leadership skills in various areas.
The school places much value on STEM subjects. Besides test scores and recommendation letters, application materials include essays to showcase students’ personalities and character. Stanford meets the financial needs of every admitted undergrad that qualifies for assistance.
Stanford Acceptance Rate
The school doesn’t post a specific acceptance rate, but it saw 55,471 applications for the class of 2025, and only 2,190 students were admitted. Stanford University is the second hardest university to get into after Columbia. This is a decrease from the usual average five percent admissions rate and speaks to the increasing demand of the school.
Some selective schools specify a minimum GPA requirement for their college applications, but Stanford practices holistic admission. It takes into account more than your GPA alone. That said, the minimum GPA would be just that, a bare minimum, which means you should strive to surpass it. To achieve a high GPA, you should get straight As throughout your high school years and take the hardest classes at every level.
Stanford Total Enrolment
According to 2021 data, Stanford University has a total enrollment of 15,157, distributed into 54 percent male (8,070 students) and 45 percent female (7,087 students). 6,366 of those accepted students are undergraduates, and 9,587 are graduate students. The student-to-faculty ratio is five to one, which allows for specialized attention for each student.
- Academic excellence. Stanford University is first and foremost a center of academic excellence, so it makes sense that stellar grades would be the first consideration. The school is looking for students who are smarter than average and challenge themselves to excel. High grades greatly increase your chances of admission.
- Intellectual vitality. Stanford is looking for students who are unique and exhibit the ability to expand their horizons. The school is looking for the next Isaac Newton, Elon Musk, or Nelson Mandela. If you pursue things that are beyond the ordinary, excel, and strive to make a difference, the admissions board is looking for you.
- Extracurricular activities. Admissions teams also want to see what you get up to outside of class. While high school students who excel in sports have an edge, Stanford likes to see music, drama, debates, and other extracurricular activities. The secret is to choose something that you will excel in and that supplements your school career.
- Character and personality. Admissions officers want to see your personality, and one of the most important Stanford application requirements is the personal essays you need to write. Make sure that they showcase your unique character. Application readers appreciate essays that are insightful, genuine, and honest.
- Recommendations. You need two letters of recommendation from your teachers and one from a guidance counselor. Attending Stanford’s optional interviews can also get you an in-house recommendation if you impress the interviewer. Places you volunteered or worked at during the summer holidays can also put a good word in for you.
Is It Hard to Get Into Stanford University?
With such a low acceptance rate, you bet your bottom dollar that it’s an incredibly hard college to get into. Stanford is one of the top choice schools and is now the second-hardest university to get into after Colombia, even though it’s not an Ivy League university. The school is looking for extraordinary people who meet its admission requirements and stand out.
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Not only is the school looking for the top of the top in academics, but it also wants students who excel in other areas. You have to be a well-balanced person to maximize your chances of admission.
How to Prepare for a Stanford Interview
The best way to prepare for a Stanford interview is to do your research early and give yourself plenty of time to practice answering common college interview questions. This will help with nervousness during the actual interview. Go through the Stanford website to learn about the programs you are interested in to prepare for your interview.
Stanford Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are you curious about?
- What motivates you?
- If you had a free day, what would you do with it?
- What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on?
- What do you want to major in?
10 Tips for Getting Into Stanford
Now that you know Stanford’s application requirements and how to ace the interview, let’s move on to acceptance. Some will tell you that getting into Stanford has a big part to do with luck. However, knowing exactly what to do in advance sets you up with an advantage and will help you to impress the admission staff with your application.
1. Work on Your Grades
The first thing the admissions officers will look at is your grades. Unlike most students who get serious in the last year of high school, Stanford applicants need to start working on their grades from sophomore year. Work hard to get your GPA high and take a lot of SAT and ACT mock tests to raise your standardized test scores.
2. Take the Challenging Classes
It is important to get high grades in advanced classes. What sets Stanford students apart from the rest is that they are smarter, more determined, and ready to take on the challenge. Taking the hardest subjects in advanced placement (AP), Honors, and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes shows that you can handle the increased workload and tougher challenges.
3. Participate in Academic Competitions
Again, Stanford University wants talented leaders, risk-takers, and world-changers. What better way to show your talent than to ace a state or national competition? Although the Science Olympiad and the USA Math Olympiad are the most prestigious events, you can also participate in other physics, biology, chemistry, and history events.
4. Excel in Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities include sports, drama, writing, speech, and debate, to name a few. When you start high school, try as many of them as possible until you find your interest. Once you do, immerse yourself fully in deepening your skills in that activity.
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5. Find Your Passions
There is a thought that top colleges look for well-rounded people who excel in many things. That may not be the case when you apply to Stanford. What this school wants is someone who has found what they are passionate about and pursues that to excellence. Specialization is key here. If basketball is your passion, aim to be the best basketball player on your sports team.
6. Think STEM in Your Application
While Stanford University is not a STEM-only college, it has a strong preference for STEM subjects. If you are not interested in STEM programs, you still need to ace the math and calculus subjects. Generally, a 720 (25th percentile) to 800 (75th percentile) range on the SAT or 33-36 on the ACT math section will set you apart from the rest.
7. Put Effort Into Your College Essay
Stanford University has a series of application essays you need to complete when applying. While the questions look generic and common, essays are one of the most important aspects of your application and you need to put a lot of thought into them. Practice answering essay questions and ask someone you trust for feedback. Most importantly, make sure they showcase your personality, character, uniqueness, and background.
8. Choose Your Recommenders Wisely
You will not see what your teachers and guidance counselor write in your letter of recommendation, so you can’t correct or delete it. The only way to ensure you get a glowing recommendation is to choose people you trust to portray you in the best light. This may mean discussing what they will say beforehand.
9. Do Something Unique
As you can imagine, tons of students have volunteered and played sports and put all these exciting things on their applications. If you want to stand out in this application process, you need to do something out of the ordinary and then write about it. Don’t be like everyone else.
10. Stay Hopeful
Over 50,000 A-students are applying for Stanford every year, and still, very few of them will get in. Prepare early, perfect your materials, and remember to stay hopeful. While it can be nerve-wracking to wait for admissions decisions after you submit your application for admission, trust that you have done all you can and wait for that letter of acceptance to come.
What Does It Take to Get Into Stanford University?
Besides superb grades, excellence in extra-curricular activities, and acing those essays, it takes demonstrating that you are a leader and a game-changer in your field to get into Stanford.
How to Get Into Stanford FAQ
No, when you apply to Stanford, you do so to the university as a whole. You can state your interest, but it’s not required.
With the crazy competitiveness of Stanford and its counterparts, it’s advisable to apply to other undergraduate institutions as well. Identify a few top colleges with the programs you want to pursue and research their application criteria. If you do it right, you will definitely get accepted into one or several of them.
Yes, Stanford allows you to reapply after taking a gap year. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted the second time, so you should weigh out your options and consider other colleges. If you do decide to wait to reapply, you might consider taking supplemental online courses to boost your application.
It is highly unlikely that an average-ranking student will be accepted. Stanford only accepts exceptional students who excel in different areas of their lives, including academics.
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