How to get into Stanford University

What you need to know

Stanford Admissions look for students with outstanding:

  • intellectual vitality (smart, with curiosity and a burning desire to learn)
  • leadership (demonstrated past contributions/impact and the potential to contribute in college)
  • personal qualities (who are you REALLY)


Stanford University is one of the world’s leading research and educational institutions. It is located in Palo Alto, California. The main campus is located between San Jose and San Francisco and it has one of the largest overall campuses in the U.S.

Stanford runs on a quarter system from late September through early June and is comprised of approximately 7000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduates. Nearly 90% of undergraduates live on campus, many within theme houses based both on cross-cultural ties and academic pursuits such as: Hammarskjöld (International Themed House), Casa Zapata (Chicano/Latino Theme in Stern Hall), Ujamaa (Black/African-American Themed House in Lagunita Court), Freshman-Sophomore College (Academic Focus), Branner Hall (Community Service), Kimball (Arts & Performing Arts), Crothers (Global Citizenship), Columbae (Social Change Through Nonviolence, since 1970), and Synergy (Exploring Alternatives, since 1972).

Stanford is proud of its heritage and reputation for innovation and diversity, and distinctive culture (contrasted, for example, with the Ivies).

Schedule time with a college admissions specialist to evaluate your candidacy and determine how to get into your top choice school.

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  School Specific Essay Questions

What you need to know

Stanford University application essay tips

The combination of the Common App essay, along with Stanford’s supplemental short answers and essays, are intended to reveal the multi-faceted, unique individual that the applicant truly is. As admission to Stanford is highly selective, it’s important that applicants stand out as real, unique individuals.


Most important to remember – answer the question. Don’t take short cuts by repurposing another school’s essay that doesn’t match the essay prompt. Don’t repeat the same points and same examples multiple times – admissions officers will look at your application holistically, so take advantage of the opportunity to show different facets of who you are in answering the multiple short answer and essay. Do admissions readers pay attention to what applicants say about what they read, how they think, how they’d be as a roommate, what keeps them up at night and what gets them fired up? Yes!

Stanford’s 2015-2016 Essay Questions

Candidates respond to all three essay topics. (250 word limit for each essay.)
Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.

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.

What matters to you, and why?

  School Standardized Testing Stats

What you need to know

The average SAT score composite at Stanford University is a 2210.

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Reading 730 680 780
Math 745 700 790
Writing 735 690 780
Composite 2210 2070 2350

  School Admissions Statistics

Stanford Admissions Statistics
Overall Admissions Statistics Totals
Total Applicants: 38,828
Male Applicants: 20,464
Female Applicants: 18,364
Total Acceptances: 2,208
Male Acceptances: 1,147
Female Acceptances: 1,061
Acceptance Rate: 6%
Yield: 76%
Dates To Know Deadline Notification
Early Action November 1 December 15
Regular Decision January 1 April 1
Must-Reply-By May 1
Freshmen Enrollment Statistics Totals
Total Freshmen Enrollment: 1,677
Full-Time Male Enrollment: 904
Full-Time Female Enrollment: 773
Part-Time Male Enrollment: 0
Part-Time Female Enrollment: 0
Waitlist Statistics Totals
Applicants Placed: 1,424
Applicants Accepting: 1,002
Students Enrolled: 0