What's Your Question?

10 Tips for Scholarship Applications

common application essay examples stanford

Make Sure You Fit All Requirements

Before you even bother applying for a particular scholarship, make sure you fit all of the requirements for it, not just half or nine out of 10. It doesn’t matter how impressive your essay or your background is, you’ll most likely be disqualified, which means you wasted your time on the application.

common application essay examples stanford

Apply Early

Start filling out scholarship applications as soon as you can. The more you send in, the more likely you are to win money. And the earlier you start, the more time you have. You’re also less likely to encounter problems, like an Internet outage, if you don’t wait until the last minute.

common application essay examples stanford

Choose Different Categories

Don’t assume because you make good grades you should only apply for academic scholarships. If you play a sport too, try for an athletic scholarship. If you have a special interest or belong to a certain club, apply for scholarships relating to those. Don’t limit yourself.

common application essay examples stanford

Make Yourself a Schedule

Put yourself on a schedule so you aren’t waiting until the last minute to apply. Maybe once a week you can take an hour or two and search for scholarships, fill out applications and write essays. Make sure you include any specific deadlines in your schedule so you work on the ones due soonest first.

common application essay examples stanford

Don’t Introduce Yourself

When writing an essay or a short paragraph for your scholarship, don’t waste time introducing yourself. Get right to the point. Not only is your name already on your application, but some organizations like to read the essay blindly without any sort of identifying factors so they’ll only focus on merit when judging.

common application essay examples stanford

Don’t Go Over the Word Limit on Essays

If the essay or any other part of your application has a word limit, try to stick to it as closely as possible. If it’s too long, the scholarship judges may not even read it. It might also show that you don’t follow directions.

common application essay examples stanford

Don’t Quote Famous People

One last tip for writing the essay part: Don’t quote famous people. It might seem like a good idea to add a beloved or inspiring saying, but the scholarship committee wants to get to know you, not someone who lived centuries ago.

common application essay examples stanford

Add a Letter of Recommendation

While you don’t want to go overboard with your essay or add unnecessary items, you can include a letter of recommendation from a teacher, boss, tutor, mentor, principal or any other person you’ve worked with in the past. Give the person time to write a good letter. Then, you can make copies and stick one in each scholarship application.

common application essay examples stanford

Avoid Scams

If you’re reading the application and it promises something that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Maybe it guarantees cash or is vague on the details of which organization is offering the scholarship. Maybe it asks for too much personal information or a hefty fee. Toss that application into the garbage.

common application essay examples stanford

Proofread Everything

Last but not least, proofread everything — even your name at the top of the page. Have someone else read it over. Read your essay out loud to make sure it sounds good. Look for typos, misspellings, bad grammar or instances where you misunderstood the directions. Show just how responsible you are and how much you deserve to win that tuition money.

common application essay examples stanford


common application essay examples stanford

12 Best Stanford Supplemental Essays That Worked 2023

Stanford University Essay Examples

Your essays are one of the best ways you can stand out in Stanford's competitive admissions process.

In this article, I'm going to share with you 12 answers to Stanford's notorious writing supplement from an admitted student.

Stanford University Admissions FAQs

Many students are interested in applying to Stanford, even though admission may seem like a long-shot.

But you may surprise yourself, and for many students it's the only time in their life they'll apply.

Here are some common questions students and parents have about Stanford's admissions:

What is Stanford University's acceptance rate?

This past year, Stanford had a record 55,471 applications and admitted 2,190 students. That gives Stanford an overall admit rate of 3.95%.

Or in other words, less than 1 in 25 students are admitted.

Just having good stats is not enough to get into schools like Stanford.

Which makes your essays are a critical opportunity for you to show why you should be accepted.

Stanford University Acceptance Scattergram

But for any school that has competitive admissions like Stanford, that only means your essays are more heavily weighed.

Each year thousands of students apply with stats that are good enough to get in. And your essays are one important factor admissions officers use.

What is Stanford's application deadline for this year?

Stanford offers two admissions deadlines for 2022-23: restrictive early action and regular decision.

For this year, Stanford's deadlines are:

  • Restrictive Early Action (REA): November 1st, 2022
  • Regular Decision (RD): January 5th, 2023

How many essays does Stanford require?

This year, Stanford University requires applying students to answer five Short Questions and write three Short Essays. If you're applying with the Common App, you'll also need a strong personal statement essay .

Stanford is notorious for its lengthy and creative writing supplement. The questions are known to be thought-provoking, which is done on purpose.

Stanford admissions officers want to dig into your thought process, and learn how you think.

What are the Stanford supplemental essay prompts for 2022-23?

For 2023, the Stanford writing supplement consists of eight questions total:

Short Questions

Stanford requires applicants to answer five short answer questions of between 3 and 50 words each.

What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (3-50 words)

How did you spend your last two summers? (3-50 words)

What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (3-50 words)

Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family. (3-50 words)

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (3-50 words)

Short Essays

Stanford's short essays are three required essays of between 100 and 250 words each.

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. (100-250 words)

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 – get to know you better. (100-250 words)

Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100-250 words)

Stanford's unique prompts give you a lot of freedom in how you choose to respond.

But being so open-ended can also make it difficult to get started.

Because of that, it can be helpful to see how other students wrote answers to Stanford's prompts in recent years.

12 Stanford University Essays That Worked

For getting your best shot at Stanford, you'll need to write authentic and interesting essays.

My advice: Have fun with the prompts when coming up with ideas. But write about them with care and diligence. Above all, be authentic.

Check out how these admitted Stanford students wrote their essay and short answer responses.

I've also included a great Common App essay from an admitted student.

  • Stanford University Essay Example #1
  • Stanford University Essay Example #2
  • Stanford University Essay Example #3
  • Stanford University Essay Example #4
  • Stanford University Essay Example #5
  • Stanford University Essay Example #6
  • Stanford University Essay Example #7
  • Stanford University Essay Example #8
  • Stanford University Essay Example #9
  • Stanford University Essay Example #10
  • Stanford University Essay Example #11
  • Stanford University Essay Example #12

1. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 words max)


Why This Essay Works:

  • Bold and Unique: Stanford's prompts reward bold and genuine writing. It is okay to be simple and straightforward, but still must be thoughtful as this response is.
  • Well-Composed: Although only three words, this response still shows thought. The use of capitalization and periods separating each word emphasizes the author's point and makes it even more poignant.

What They Might Change:

  • Use The Full Word Limit: It is risky to leave 47 words unused. This essay succeeds in taking that risk, but generally you should use all the words available because each one is an opportunity to convey more meaning.

2. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: How did you spend your last two summers? (50 words max)

[Date] : Working with the head of IT at Golden Gate Parks and Rec to renovate the social media program and redesign the website. (

[Date] : Studying at Stanford High School Summer College, building a family in two months.

  • Answers Prompt Directly: This response leaves no room for doubt. And shows that you don't have to be fancy or "try hard" for all essays. Sometimes plain answers work best when it is a short prompt like this one.
  • Organized Clearly: For straightforward answers, having a straightforward structure can be a good thing. Each word is used carefully and has a purpose.
  • Has Strong Ideas: You don't need much to convey meaning. In just the last six words ("building a family in two months") there is hints of deeper ideas.

3. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 words max)

The Trinity test, the first detonation of the atomic bomb. For one, an opportunity to meet my role models: Oppenheimer, Feynman, Fermi, etc. But also, to witness the 4 millisecond shift to an era of humanity that could eradicate itself. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

  • Connects To Author's Interests: The author cleverly reveals about themselves by telling their role models: the physicists involved.
  • Shows Specific Knowledge: Rather than just saying "the first atomic bomb test", the author names it specifically: The Trinity Test. Including the famous Oppenheimer quote from the Bhagavad Gita also shows real thought was put into it.

Learn the secrets of successful top-20 college essays

Join 4,000+ students and parents that already receive our 5-minute free newsletter , packed with top-20 essay examples, writing tips & tricks, and step-by-step guides.


4. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 words max)

Representing an ideal.

Stanford is a gathering place of people working towards a common ideal; one of engagement, passion, intellectual vitality, and devotion to progress. This is what I stand for, so I want to help Stanford represent it.

(Also those cream cheese croissants from CoHo.)

  • Idea-Focused: The author's take on what Stanford represents ("an ideal") is a unique perspective.
  • Authentic Motivations: Revealing your genuine motivation for attending a school shows your interest is not surface-level. The author's motivation is also a powerful one: representing an ideal.
  • Lighthearted and Relatable: The last remark in parantheses lightens the tone, while still relating to Stanford specifically. Admissions officers surely would crack a smile at this remark because it is relatable to them and genuine.

5. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: What five words best describe you? (5 words max)

I don’t conform to arbitrary boundaries.

  • Bold and Takes a Risk: Stanford supplements are the perfect place to take a (calculated) risk. This type of answer only works if A.) it hasn't been done before and B.) it is genuine and not done just for the sake of risk-taking.

6. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 words max)

One extra hour is thirty minutes extra of daylight.

The US has 28 GW of installed solar capacity. With the extra daylight, there will be a 4% increase in national capacity, an entire GW added. This small increase alone powers 700,000 homes. I’m spending the time investing in photovoltaics!

  • Thinks Outside the Box: Most students would answer this prompt more literally: with what activity they would do. Having a unique approach shows your ability to think differently.
  • Cleverness: Strikes the right balance between being clever and genuinely answering the prompt. Trying too hard to be clever is easily seen-through.
  • Explain Acronyms Before Using: Instead of writing "GW," the first reference should say "gigawatt." This is a minor semantic correction that would make things slightly more clear.

7. Stanford University "Genuinely Excited About Learning" Short Essay

Prompt: 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. (100-250 words)

It’s in the mail.

I rip open the package.

It feels sleek along my fingertips. Three volumes. Gorgeous red binding with stunning silver lettering. THE Feynman LECTURES ON PHYSICS The NEW MILLENIUM Edition

I had heard about them previously, but a Quora thread on “essential physics texts” convinced me to invest in them. I thought I was buying a textbook, but I was buying a new way of life. That night, while I laid in bed, Feynman changed my entire perspective of the universe. In the first lecture.

Not only was he a Nobel prize winning physicist with a unique approach to the subject, but his pedagogical capabilities were perfectly suited to my personality. When Feynman teaches, he does not just teach physics, he teaches how to think and understand. He helped me recognize that my passion wasn’t for physics, it was for a passion for learning and understanding.

Spoken directly from the source: “I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.”

Reading the Lectures rouses within me the most intense feeling of elation I have ever experienced. When I open the Lectures, any bad mood is erased, any haze in my mind is cleared away, and I become the person I strive to be.

Now, I always have at least one of the Lectures on me. At festivals, in backpacks, in carryons, if I am there, so are the Lectures.

  • Tells a Story: Painting a vivid picture can bring admissions officers into your world. Using stories also is a compelling way to share ideas without stating them plainly.
  • Showcases Genuine Interest: Write about things in a way that only you could write about. The authenticity in this essay is palpable.

8. Stanford University "Letter to Roommate" Short Essay

Prompt: 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. (100-250 words)

Dear roommate,

Don’t be alarmed if you glance over at my laptop late at night displaying a plague doctor examining a watermelon with a stethoscope, meticulously listening for a heartbeat.

I apologise for waking you, but before requesting a room change, allow me to explain. This twisted scene is innocently my favorite video on YouTube. I have ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is a euphoric, calming sensation triggered by visual and auditory stimuli like whispering and fine movements, which I use to aid my insomnia. This plague doctor, played by youtuber Ephemeral Rift, has movements as he inspects the watermelon that are as calming to me as a mother’s lullabies are to a child.

I know we will both have our strong, unique personalities with our individual quirks like this. However, I guarantee we have a fundamental similarity which lead us to becoming Stanford students.

We have passion for learning. Even if two people are polar-opposite personalities, they can become family if they have this.

That said, I have a feeling we won’t be polar opposites. I love jamming on my guitar, going out to parties, playing video games, messing around with soccer, and a hodgepodge of other hobbies. I’m sure we’ll have some common ground to start off but either way there will be plenty of time to grow together!

P.S. I am a whiteboard fiend. I hope that’s okay.

  • Humanizes the Author: Being quirky for quirkiness sake isn't good. But the author strikes a balance between showing their unique (some may say strange) interests and the relatable aspects (like whiteboards, going to parties, and soccer).
  • Connects to Bigger Ideas: Even in "unserious" writing, connecting to meaningful ideas is key. The author brilliantly shows what relates all Stanford students: their passion for learning.
  • Minor Writing Fixes: Small edits such as capitalizing the proper noun "Youtuber" and some word choices could be altered.

9. Stanford University "Meaningful To You" Short Essay

Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100-250 words)

A meaningful discussion can be found deep in the jungle of YouTube, during an obscure “CBS This Morning” interview with Bill Murray.

“What do you want, that you don’t have?” - Charlie Rose

Bill Murray - “I’d like to be here all the time, and just see what I could get done, what I could do if I really, you know, didn’t cloud myself... if I were able to... to not get distracted. To not change channels in my mind and body, to be my own channel.”

Death is scary but my slimy, monolithic, Lovecraftian fear is unengagement. I only have a brief time to experience life and I know I will find the most fulfillment in “[seeing] what I could get done.” When I feel that signature fuzzy, tired feeling in my head, I am reminded of my old night terrors; I would be awake yet unable to interact with my surroundings.

In sophomore year, when I discovered my passion for physics, I found a powerful way to stay engaged. Developing a passion fundamentally requires me, as Murray puts it, “to be my own channel.” Problem solving, understanding difficult concepts, having intense discussions all demand your mind to be present and I am more than happy to oblige.

Intellectual vitality is not my application buzzword, it is my lifestyle.

  • Shows What Drives Them: Admissions officers are interested in the root of your being. That is, what gets you up in the morning. Showing your perspective on life and what you hope to get out of life is key.
  • Connects to Application's Interests: A central theme of this author is physics. And each essay relates back to their intended area of study to a varying degree. By connecting to the rest of your application, it creates a cohesive picture of yourself as an applicant.
  • Use Less Quotes: Quotes can be great for introducing ideas. But ultimately admissions officers want to hear your words, not other people's. The first three paragraphs are about other people's ideas, not the author's, and could be condensed.

10. Stanford University Short Essay

Prompt: Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words max)

One month into AP Physics C Mr. Shapiro's cancer came out of remission. With no teacher for the rest of the semester, I offered to give a few lectures. The first try was a huge success and I was hooked on teaching.

Following my newfound addiction, I started Lowell Physics Club (LPC). Our first lecture attracted 50 students, with 40 returning the next week!

A victim of grandeur, I designed an environment more than a club. It had to be innovative, attractive, and have a tangible payoff. We tutor students in physics, connect those looking for fun projects, prepare students for the F=ma Olympiad, and sometimes I give lectures which expand rather than repeat. This year two students qualified.

Mr. Shapiro returned this semester and continued teaching. I can now relax in the back of the room listening to his engaging lectures, occasionally giving one of my own.

  • Provides Backstory: Explaining how you got started in an extracurricular is compelling because it reveals your motivations for doing it.
  • Shows Takeaways from Their Achievements: Listing achievements and extracurriculars isn't as important as what you got from them. The author emphasizes the important of their extracurricular and why it is meaningful, rather than just what they did.
  • Be Careful With Personal Details: Unless this author got permission from "Mr. Shapiro" to use their name, revealing personal details such as health conditions is not good to do. Always be careful naming people in your essays, but especially for potentially sensitive topics.

11. Stanford University Short Question

Prompt: When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 words max)

From my bookshelf, Youtube subscriptions, Netflix history, and Spotify.

The Feynman Lectures, MF Doom, Ephemeral Rift, Tank and The Bangas, The Eric Andre Show, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Hubbard and Hubbard’s Differential Equations and Vector Calculus, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Kamasi Washington, 3Blue1Brown, Al Green, Band of Gypsys, Oxford Press - Very Short Introductions

  • Answers Prompt Clearly: Provides a straightforward response without room for misinterpretation.
  • Has Good Context: By stating where these interests come from ("bookshelf, Youtube subscriptions, Netflix"), the answers have more context.
  • Organization: Listing their interests by type (such as musical artists, authors, and TV shows) would help readers who may not be as familiar with all the interests.

12. Stanford University Common App Essay

Common App Prompt #7: 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. (250-650 words)

For my entire life, I have had the itch: the itch to understand.

As a kid I was obsessed with a universe I knew nothing about. In elementary school, my favorite book was an introduction to fulcrums for kids. Like the Pythagoreans who had marveled at the perfect ratios of musical notes, I was enamored with the mathematical symmetries of fulcrums. The book inflamed my itch but I had no means to scratch it.

I was raised a San Francisco Hippie by musicians and artists. I learned to sing the blues before I knew the words I used. Without guidance from any scientific role models, I never learned what it meant to do science, let alone differentiate science from science-fiction. As a kid, it was obvious to me a flying car was equally as plausible as a man on the moon. When my parents told me my design for a helium filled broomstick would not fly , they could not explain why, they just knew it wouldn’t. My curiosity went unrewarded and I learned to silence my scientific mind to avoid the torture of my inability to scratch the itch.

Then, in Sophomore year , I met Kikki. Before Kikki, “passion” was an intangible vocab term I had memorized. Ever since she lost her best friend to cancer in middle school, she had been using her pain to fuel her passion for fighting cancer. When you spoke to her about oncology , her eyes lit up, she bounced like a child, her voice raised an octave. She emanated raw, overwhelming passion.

I wanted it. I was enviously watching another person scratch an itch I couldn’t.

I was so desperate to feel the way Kikki did that I faked feeling passionate ; AP Physics 1 with Mr. Prothro had sparked my old Pythagorean wonder in mathematics so I latched on to physics as my new passion and whenever I talked about it, I made my eyes light up, made myself bounce like a child, purposefully raised my voice an octave.

Slowly, my passion emerged from pretense and envy into reality.

Without prompting, my eyes would light up, my heart would swell, and my mind would clear. One night, I was so exhilarated to start that night's problem set that I jumped out of my seat. I forgot to sit back down. I spent that night bent over at my desk, occasionally straightening out, walking around and visualising problems in my head. Five whiteboards now cover my walls and every night, I do my homework standing up.

Once learning became my passion, my life changed. Old concepts gained new beauty, the blues became a powerful medium of expression. Mathematics became a language rather than a subject. I rocketed from the kid who cried in class while learning about negative numbers to one of two juniors in an 800-person class to skip directly into AP Physics C and AP Calculus BC. I founded [School] Physics Club, which became one of the largest clubs in the school. Over the summer at Stanford, I earned perfect marks in Ordinary Differential Equations, Energy Resources, an Introduction to MATLAB, and an environmental seminar, all the while completing the Summer Environment and Water Studies Intensive. Now in my senior year, I am earning my AS in Mathematics and Physics at the City College of San Francisco.

As I enter college, the applicability of my field of physics offers me a broad array of high-impact careers. Given that by 2050, 17% of Bangladesh's land will be underwater displacing twenty million people , I have settled on energy resources engineering.

All of this is natural progression from one development - I learned to scratch my itch.

This essay is all based upon the metaphor of "the itch" representing a desire to understand the world. By using a central theme, such as a metaphor, you can create a thread of ideas that run throughout your essay. If you want to use a metaphor, make sure it clearly relates to the idea you're trying to express, rather than choosing one just because it is a creative or unique approach. In this case, there is perhaps no better metaphor than "the itch" which would capture their main idea, so it works well.

Instead of "telling" their ideas, this essay does a lot of fantastic "showing" through specific anecdotes. Sentences like "I learned to sing the blues before I knew the words..." capture a lot about the author's character and background without having to say it outright. By showing the reader, you allow them to draw their own conclusions rather than just having to accept what you're telling them. Using specific language also creates a more vibrant and interesting essay. Rather than saying "I loved learning as a kid," this student shows it using a concrete example: "my favorite book was an introduction to fulcrums".

Writing about other people in your essay can be a great way to tell things about yourself. Known as a literary "foil," by describing other people you can show your own values without stating them plainly. In this essay, the author shows their value (of being passionate about learning) by first recognizing that value in somebody else, "Kikki" in this case. By writing about people in your life, you can also create a sense of humility and humanity. Nobody is an "island," meaning that everyone is influenced by those around us. Showing how you draw inspiration, values, or lessons from others will show more about your character than simply telling admissions would.

In general, listing activities in your essay is a bad strategy, because it is repetitive of your activities list and comes across boring. However, this essay manages to list their activities in the 3rd-to-last paragraph by connecting them to a central idea: how their newfound passion for learning sparked all these new engagements. Listing activities can be okay, but only if they have a clear purpose in doing so. In this case, the purpose is to show how these activities are representative of their new passion for learning. But the purpose for listing activities could also be to show a specific value, provide examples for your idea, demonstrate your new perspective, etc.

What Can You Learn From These Stanford Essays?

Do you want to get into Stanford in 2022? If so, writing great application essays is one of your most critical parts of applying.

With selective schools like Stanford, your essays matter even more.

Hopefully these 12 Stanford short answers and essays have helped inspire you.

From these essay examples, you can learn what it takes to write some stellar Stanford supplements:

  • Don't be afraid to be creative
  • Don't write formally. You can write as you would speak.
  • Showcase your genuine self, interests, and passions
  • Think outside the box, if appropriate and natural

If you enjoyed these essays, you'll also like reading UCLA essays and USC essays .

What did you think of these Stanford essays?

Ryan Chiang , Founder of EssaysThatWorked

Want to read more amazing essays that worked for top schools?

Hey! 👋 I'm Ryan Chiang, the founder of EssaysThatWorked.

Get our 5-minute free newsletter packed with essay tips and college admissions resources, backed by real-life examples from admitted students at top-20 schools.

Meet the Author

Ryan Chiang

I'm Ryan Chiang and I created EssaysThatWorked - a website dedicated to helping students write college essays they're proud of. We publish the best college admissions essays from successful applicants every year to inspire and teach future students.

You might also like:

6 Northwestern Essay Examples & Why Northwestern (2023)

6 Northwestern Essay Examples & Why Northwestern (2023)

9 Tufts University EssaysThatWorked

9 Tufts University EssaysThatWorked

8 Notre Dame EssaysThatWorked

8 Notre Dame EssaysThatWorked

4 University of Southern California (USC) EssaysThatWorked

4 University of Southern California (USC) EssaysThatWorked

23 College Essay Tips to Stand Out

What do outstanding essays have in common? Here are our 23 most effective strategies based on lessons from admitted students.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

By signing up you agree to Terms and Privacy Policy

common application essay examples stanford

Now available for August 2023 ...

The College Essay Workshop

Join my on-demand step-by-step course for crafting outstanding college admissions essays, plus 1-on-1 help.

Here's everything needed to write essays worthy of Top-20 colleges.

Google Rating

Join our students who have earned acceptances to schools like...

See exactly how students wrote admitted essays for top schools.

Our 231 essay examples show you how ordinary students wrote outstanding essays that helped their applications - all in their own words.

These aren’t just essay examples - but real acceptance stories, from real students who share their most intimate details with you - down to their real essays and exact profiel stats.

How do I find a unique topic? How do I write a great essay? And how do I stand out?

Our 231 essay examples break down these exact questions. Every type of essay prompt, student, and school.

You’ll realize these students are just like you - and that, deep down, you can do it too.

common application essay examples stanford

Princeton Admitted Essay

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

common application essay examples stanford

MIT Admitted Essay

Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

common application essay examples stanford

UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

Over 200 more admitted essays like these...

Learn the secrets behind outstanding application essays.

College essays are confusing. And it's not your fault. You're not taught how to write them in school.

How should I structure my essay? Can I use humor? What makes a truly great essay?

There's so much conflicting advice out there.

And with people selling "magic formulas" and "structures" to follow... it's easy to be led astray.

You’ll get access to courses, live events, a dedicated essay coach, and countless resources to help you write your best essays.

You finally have a place where you can ask these questions, get advice, and see exactly how admitted students before you did it.

You’re no longer figuring out everything on your own. You're no longer stuck wondering.

Everything you get

231 essays analyzed

Explore our database of 200+ admitted essays from top-20 colleges. Filter by prompt, school, topic, word count, and more. Get expert insights into why they worked and what you can learn from them.

Exclusive access to essay editing

You'll get access to our essay editing services, which is only offered for members. You can get your essays reviewed personally by me (Ryan). I'll give you detailed feedback on how to improve your essays and make them stand out.

Dedicated essay coach & support

You'll get access to our private community, where you can ask questions and get help from me directly. I'll be there to answer your questions and provide unlimited personalized advice.

44 in-depth video lessons

Learn the secrets behind outstanding essays. We break down the entire process, from brainstorming to writing and editing. You'll learn how to write amazing college essays for any prompt, with step-by-step guides and actionable tips.

26 downloadable guides

Get our best tips and tricks in easy-to-read guides. Learn what makes great essays, how to brainstorm your best topics, and how to write specific parts like a powerful hook and memorable ending.

Tons of bonuses

Get the Ultimate College Application Planner, my 154-Point Essay Checklist, and more. You'll also get a free copy of my eBooks, including 23 College Essay Tips to Stand Out and more.

Don't take our word for it

Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of our students and parents.

" Ryan, I want to express our great appreciation to you for your help on George's application essays. You have provided invaluable resources! P.S. I will certainly recommend you to our friends. "

common application essay examples stanford

" Ryan—David got into The University of Michigan!!! Only 4 kids got in out of 200 that applied at his school!!! Thank you so so much for everything "

common application essay examples stanford

" Thank you for the incredible help Ryan - both Hannah and I have said repeatedly that we could not have done it without you! "

common application essay examples stanford

" Thank you for your help with my essays back in November, including my Yale supplements. Just wanted to let you know I ended up getting into and committing to Yale! "

common application essay examples stanford

" I feel so much more reassured to press the submit button now. I wish I knew about your site sooner! "

common application essay examples stanford

" ... Invaluable to me during the college admissions process! It gave me a different perspective to look at my essays. "

common application essay examples stanford

" Initially I was skeptical about my essay's idea and whether it was properly reflected in my writing. This gave me a clear direction! "

common application essay examples stanford

Don't miss out on writing your best college essays.

© 2018- 2023 Essays That Worked . All rights reserved.

Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms and Conditions , Privacy Policy , and Cookie Policy .

We have no affiliation with any university or colleges on this site. All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners.

No products in the cart.

common application essay examples stanford

Successful Stanford Essays

Stanford essays →, stanford mentors →, common app additional info (extenuating circumstances) | daniel.

Common App Additional Info (Extenuating Circumstances) My parents emigrated from Korea to the US and ran a Dairy Queen business in Florida, which unfortunately ended…...

Common App Essay: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time | Daniel

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…...

common application essay examples stanford

Stanford Supplemental Essay: Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? | Yusef

Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 words) Relationships are everything in life. With my…...

Stanford Supplemental Essay: Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford | Yusef

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 words) Stanford is known for its diverse and ambitious community; this meshes well…...

Stanford Supplemental Essay: When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? | Yusef

When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 words) I am addicted to cooking videos on YouTube. I can’t…...

Stanford Supplemental Essay: What five words best describe you? | Yusef

What five words best describe you? Unwavering concentration yields desirable outcomes…....

Stanford Essay Prompts

Common application essay prompts.

The Common App Essay for 2020-2021 is limited to 250-650 word responses. You must choose one prompt for your essay. Some students have a background,…...

Stanford Short Essay Questions

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…...

Report Content

Block member.

Please confirm you want to block this member.

You will no longer be able to:

  • See blocked member's posts
  • Mention this member in posts
  • Message this member
  • Add this member as a connection

Please note: This action will also remove this member from your connections and send a report to the site admin. Please allow a few minutes for this process to complete.

College Advisor logo

Stanford Essays Examples

Avatar photo

Stanford Essays Examples – Introduction

Located in sunny California, Stanford is a top choice school for many students. In this guide, we’ll look at the Stanford supplemental essays. Then, we’ll review some Stanford essays examples and discuss how they can help you write your own Stanford essay.

Stanford is ranked as one of the best colleges in the US , and for good reason. Students are in control of their learning, whether that means exploring STEM research opportunities or double majoring thanks to Stanford’s quarter system .

It’s no surprise that with Stanford’s popularity, it is a hard school to get into. According to US News, the Stanford acceptance rate is just 4%. The Stanford acceptance rate also ranks Stanford among the most selective schools, so receiving a Stanford acceptance letter is no small feat. 

As you begin the Stanford application process, it can be helpful to review Stanford essays that worked. Then, you can apply the tools from these Stanford essays examples to your own writing.

Our guide to the Stanford essays examples will include:

  • The number of Stanford essays to expect on the application
  • What matters to you and why Stanford essay examples
  • Stanford roommate essay examples, and more!

How many essays does Stanford require?

stanford essay examples

There are eight required Stanford supplemental essays for 2022-23 applicants .

While eight Stanford essays may seem like a lot, remember that not all the Stanford essays are full-length essays, like the two-to-five-page essays you write for class or the 650-word personal statement you will write for the Common Application. Your Stanford essays help the admissions team get to know you. 

Before we dive into some Stanford supplemental essays examples, let’s think about the Stanford essay prompts. Unlike other schools that only require applicants to write one or two supplemental essays , Stanford requires students to answer multiple short answer and short essay prompts.

Put simply, your Stanford essays help the admissions team learn about you on your own terms.  Just wait until you read our Stanford roommate essay examples – how many college applications ask you to write a letter to your future roommate?

There are two types of Stanford essays: short answer and short essay. 

Stanford short answer.

Short answer Stanford essays can only be 50 words max , so they are only a few sentences long. As you’ll see in our Stanford supplemental essays examples, 50 words is not a lot of space. When answering the short answer Stanford essays, you’ll need to learn how to use your words carefully to make a clear and memorable impact on your reader.

Before you’ve read some Stanford essays examples, you may think these types of Stanford essays don’t allow students much room to express their thoughts and ideas. Later, when we look at Stanford essays that worked, you’ll see just how creative you can be when answering the short answer Stanford essays.

Stanford Short Essay

The short essays are slightly longer. These Stanford essays are between 100 and 250 words long , so you can expect these Stanford essays prompts to be more comprehensive than the short answer prompts. As you read our why Stanford essay examples, note that they fall into this category. Instead of being quick snapshots, the Stanford essays that worked will have more of a narrative , taking the reader through a beginning, middle, and end.

No matter if you are responding to the short essay or short answer Stanford essays, make sure you answer the prompts completely. As the admissions team reviews your Stanford essays, they’ll quickly notice whether you successfully answer the prompt . That means if there is a “what” and “why” section of the prompt, your Stanford essay should thoroughly address both.

By now, you’re probably ready to get into some Stanford essays that worked. First, let’s take a look at the prompts behind our Stanford supplemental essays examples.

What are the Stanford essay prompts?

Next up is the Stanford essay prompts. As previously mentioned, Stanford supplemental essays are two lengths: up to 50 words or 100-250 words. 

Since the Stanford essays are so short, you might think they matter less. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Stanford is a prestigious and selective school. So, Stanford Admissions will expect your most thoughtful and well-executed responses to their questions.

Currently, there are three Stanford short essays (100-250 words) and five short answer Stanford essay prompts (50 words max). These prompts are subject to change each year, so make sure you’ve done your research and found the most up-to-date prompts on Stanford’s application and essays page for first-year applicants and transfer applicants .

Note that some of the Stanford essay examples in this guide are from previous admissions cycles. This means that your Stanford application may ask you to complete a slightly different prompt than you’ll see in our Stanford essays examples. While some of the examples included in this guide may not reflect the current Stanford essay prompts, they can still help you complete your Stanford application.

The short answer Stanford supplemental essay prompts (50 words max) include:

  • What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?
  • How did you spend your last two summers?
  • What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?
  • Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family.
  • Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford.

The longer Stanford supplemental essay prompts (100-250 words) include:

  • 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.
  • Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why.
  • 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.

Before we dive into the Stanford essays examples we’ve provided below, let’s start thinking about what it takes to write a great Stanford essay.

How do I write a good Stanford essay?

Just like there is no easy answer to how to get into Stanford, there is no easy answer to how to write a good Stanford essay. Our Stanford supplemental essays examples are all as different and unique as the students that wrote them. You’ll especially notice this once we start looking at Stanford essays that worked (like our what matters to you and why Stanford essay examples). While these Stanford essay examples all respond to the same prompt, each is unique.

That being said, when you look at different Stanford essays examples, you’ll start to notice they have some things in common. All of our Stanford essays examples clearly and concisely answer all aspects of the prompt. They do so in an engaging and specific voice that reflects some element of the writer’s character. This may include their creativity, humor, intellect, or values.

Overall, good Stanford essays examples will reflect positively on who a student is and why they’d be a good fit for Stanford. Part of Stanford’s vision is making a difference, so don’t be afraid to keep that in mind when reviewing our Stanford essays examples.

Stanford Essay Examples

Now, let’s jump into our Stanford supplemental essays examples. Rather than showing you a random collection of Stanford essays, we are focusing on Stanford essays that worked. Each of these Stanford essay examples is well executed . Each of these Stanford essay examples takes a strong approach to the prompts and shows a clear sense of identity and perspective.

First, we’ll take a look at some short answer Stanford supplemental essays examples. Then, we’ll move on to the longer Stanford essay examples, including our Stanford roommate essay examples and our what matters to you and why Stanford essay examples. 

Stanford Essays Examples- Short Answers

What is the most significant challenge that society faces today (50 words), stanford essay examples #1:.

The deterioration of political and personal empathy. There’s been an aggressive devaluing of inclusive mindsets and common ground rules—the kind of solidarity of purpose necessary to accommodate divergent viewpoints, respect evidence, share burdens, and tackle national/international emergencies like climate change and immigration. We are fumbling—in backwards tribalism—while the world burns.

Stanford Essay Examples #2:

Where’s Waldo books. 

By searching for Waldo, we subconsciously teach children that certain people aren’t meant to belong–they are meant to be hunted. Our brains may be hardwired to notice people who are different, but we are instructed to treat those people differently. 

Searching for Waldo must be consciously unlearned. 

Stanford Essay Examples #3:

Ignorance poses a paradoxical issue: we can’t solve a problem that we don’t know exists.

For fifteen years, I heard gentrification and thought humanitarian. The Oxford English Dictionary had even taught me that gentrification means “positive change.” How can such atrocities become noticed when our perceptions are so skewed?

Stanford Essay Examples #4:

Greed. The root of all evil. To make momentous strides towards improving societal conditions, people and corporations must put aside their greed. Unfortunately, greed – the deep, dark desire for power and money – is the dominant force at work in many aspects of society, making it society’s most significant challenge.

These Stanford essays examples are powerful. Each of these Stanford essays examples is also unique. In each response, the writer uses the prompt to showcase their core values and beliefs. 

You might be surprised how much these Stanford essay examples are able to contain in just 50 words. While this prompt does not contain two separate parts asking “what” and “why,” the above Stanford essays that worked answered both parts anyway. All four Stanford essay examples start by clearly naming the challenge (“deterioration of political and personal empathy,” “Where’s Waldo books,” “ignorance,” and “greed”), then explaining why it is a challenge or what this challenge keeps us from.

Next, let’s look at more Stanford essays that worked for other short answer prompts.

How did you spend your last two summers? ( 50 words )

Stanford essays that worked #1.

Learned to drive; internship in Silicon Valley (learned to live alone and cook for myself!); a government Honors program; wrote articles for a publication; lobbied at the Capitol; attended a young writers’ program; read a whole lot.

Stanford Essays that Worked #2

My goal: Adventure

2015: Moved from North Carolina to Texas (mission trip to Birmingham, Alabama in between), vacationed in Orlando.

2016: Pre-college math program in Boston, engineering program at another university, Ann Arbor, mission trip to Laredo, Texas, vacation to northern California including the lovely Palo Alto.

These two Stanford essay examples are snapshots that capture your life outside of school . Both of these Stanford essay examples choose to forego typical sentence structures for a more abbreviated, list-type presentation. This can give you room to include more experiences from your summers.

While these two Stanford essays examples are good, these Stanford essays examples aren’t the end-all be-all for this type of prompt. To improve your response, you might sneak in a “why” element to your answer. 

You might not wish to just list what activities you did over the summer , as this may repeat the kind of information found in an extracurricular or resume portion of your application. So, try to touch on what you learned or how you grew from these activities.

The second of our Stanford essay examples does this well by framing up their experiences into a unified goal: adventure. We then learn more about this student by the fact that adventure to them means exploring STEM topics and giving back to their church community. 

What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? ( 50 words )

Stanford essay examples #1.

Valentina Tereshkova’s 1963 spaceflight. Tereshkova’s skill, grit, and persistence carried her from working in a textile factory, through grueling tests and training, to becoming the first woman to fly solo in space. Her accomplishment remains symbolic of women’s empowerment and the expanded progress that’s possible with equity in STEM opportunities.

Stanford Essay Examples #2

In 2001, Egyptian authorities raided a gay nightclub, arresting 55 men. The prosecutors tried them under fujur laws—initially passed by Egyptian nationalists to counter British ‘immorality’ during colonization. 

Watching the prosecution construct homosexuality as un-Egyptian would illustrate the extent anti-Western sentiment drove homophobia and how similar anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric remains today. 

Stanford Essay Examples #3

Most definitely Paganini’s legendary one-stringed performance; one-by-one, his violin strings snapped mid-performance until he was left with only the G-string. Being Paganini, he simply continued to play flawlessly all on that single string!

Stanford Essay Examples #4

Change does not happen without courage. I wish I could have witnessed the courage it took for the four A&T students sit in at the Woolworth’s counter in my hometown. I want to see the light overcoming darkness that created a change to last forever.

These Stanford essays examples show what each writer cares about. They also illustrate how these students connect with the world around them. In each of the above Stanford essays examples, the reader learns more about what the writers are passionate about as well as what they value: perseverance, courage, justice, and beauty.

While these are not exactly why Stanford essay examples, they do showcase what kind of revolutionary or impactful work you might dream of accomplishing with your Stanford education. Never underestimate the opportunity to layer meaning into your essays. Each of these Stanford supplemental essays examples use an external event to show something about an individual student. 

What five words best describe you? (5 words)

Stanford essays #1.

Speak up. Take action. Together.

Stanford Essays #2

Peter Parker meets Atticus Finch

Stanford Essays #3

The light of the world

Although these are the shortest of the Stanford essays examples, they are perhaps the most difficult to write. Summing yourself up in five words is no easy task. Each of these Stanford essays examples takes a different approach, whether that is a few small sentences, a cross of characters, or a poetic line.

When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 words)

Read: The New York Times, Vox, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Quora. Favorite authors include Siddhartha Mukherjee, Atul Gawande, Dushka Zapata, and Zora Neale Hurston. 

Listen: This American Life, The Daily, Radiolab, Invisibilia, U.S. and French pop. 

Watch: The Good Place, Brooklyn 99, YouTube science, baking, and fingerstyle guitar videos.

Read—an unhealthy number of self-help books, re-reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, every one of Audre Lorde’s books… 

Listen to—Danez Smith’s slam poetry (my personal favorite? Dinosaurs in the Hood), Still Woozy, Invisibilia… 

Watch—all the television I was forbidden from watching when I was twelve, POSE, ContraPoints, YouTubers criticizing ContraPoints… 

Read: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, The Wendigo, How To Write an Autobiographical Novel, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, weekly newsletter

Listen: Shostakovich, Lauv, Atlas, 20-hour-rain soundtrack on Spotify 

Watch: Avatar, Forrest Gump, Schindler’s List, Hachi (if in the mood to cry), any Marvel movie!

These Stanford essays examples showcase each writer’s interests and influences. They highlight intellectual media where appropriate, but they also remain honest. As you write your own Stanford essays, remember to stay authentic. 

Name your favorite books, authors, films, and/or artists. (50 words)

Stanford essay that worked.

I love literature and art that helps me explore my roots and learn to love myself. These works and authors include:​The Color Purple, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, ​Maya Angelou, Day of Tears, ​Hope for the Flowers, and Langston Hughes.

This essay is very similar to the Stanford essays examples above. It gives the reader a sense of this student’s interests and shows what they might engage with on Stanford’s campus. 

What newspapers, magazines, and/or websites do you enjoy? (50 words)

Stanford essays that worked.

I enjoy newspapers and magazines that enable me to learn something everyday. I like National Geographic because it lets me learn more about science. Once it even inspired me to do a self directed project on albatrosses. I also enjoy The Economist as it gives me a well rounded view of today’s politics and economics.

This essay is another of the “content” Stanford essays examples. This prompt, however, asks students to articulate the sites and sources where they turn to find content. 

Unlike our other Stanford supplemental essays examples, this example limits itself to two sources. Generally, we wouldn’t recommend essentially repeating the prompt, as this essay does in its first sentence. Instead, jump right into your details and specifics, and utilize that extra space to tie in something more valuable.

What were your favorite events (e.g., performances, exhibits, competitions, conferences, etc.) in recent years? (50 words)

“December 24th, 9pm, Eastern Standard time.” Rent began. I was sitting in between my best friends. We were losing circulation in our hands from holding on too tight and washing off our make-up with our tears. I felt an immense sense of harmony with the play and it was fantastic.

This is another variation of the above Stanford essays examples. This prompt, however, focuses on events. The narrative quality drops you right into the moment, which says so much about how this writer felt about the performance by showing an action rather than only explaining with words.

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. ( 50 words )

I live by my motto: “Dare!” in all instances of Truth or Dare.

Apparently, so do the students who brave Secret Snowflake. It spotlights what I love most, Truth or Dare minus the truth. Will I attempt to break the jalapeno eating record? Hop into The Claw in sub-zero temperatures? 

One of the reasons this “why Stanford essay example” works so well is its specificity. The level of detail included in this “why Stanford essay example” shows that this writer has done research into what Stanford has to offer. This highlights their enthusiasm and dedication to Stanford over another top college. 

If you aren’t able to take an in-person tour to visit the campus, there are plenty of ways to learn more about Stanford and its campus culture. We have countless webinars to help you get a sense of what life at Stanford is like. Check out our virtual college tour , Stanford University panel , and our How to get into Stanford: My Admissions Journey series to learn more about Stanford.

Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 words)

I’d split my hour two ways, investing time in my own wellbeing and in others. Half I’d spend baking treats for friends, which would double as a personal gift, since I find baking—like running—relaxing and restorative. The second half I’d spend answering Quora questions—something I’ve been meaning to pay forward.

At eight, I dreamed of becoming a YouTuber, documenting life in rectangular video. Each year, this dream drew further from reach.

With extra time, I’d retrieve what time stole. Creating comedic skits or simply talking about my day, I’d pursue what I value most—making others laugh and capturing beautiful moments.

These Stanford essays examples show how some prompts are more open-ended than others. There’s an infinite number of possibilities you could explore with more time. However, both of these Stanford essays examples discuss something the writer values. Making others laugh, and giving to others—these are traits of people who will likely want to build community with their peers on campus.

Stanford Supplemental Essay Examples – Short Essays

stanford essay examples

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. (250 words)

Stanford essays examples:.

From my earliest days, I have been a storyteller. I have imagined futuristic worlds where climate change has turned plants carnivorous, or where simulation technology has allowed us to learn history by experiencing it. But of all of these worlds that I write into stories, there is one in particular that captivates me:

“Which face should I get? I’m debating between these two, but I think I like the nasal bridge on this one more.”

In this futuristic world, people shop for faces that can be affixed with a head transplant. The people simply browse through a catalog and choose from the available options in the way we might shop for wedding cakes. Following the transplant procedure, one’s previous head is added to the catalog for purchase by the next buyer. 

The idea seems completely bizarre.

That is, until we begin to more carefully consider the present. On Earth, beauty sways society, leading to the emergence of cosmetic surgery as one of the fastest-growing industries. Here, rapid scientific advancement trumps every earthly limitation, and scientists have recently completed the first successful head transplant on a monkey. 

These considerations coalescing, my bizarre idea suddenly comes to life. What is to say that, in 100 years or so, we won’t break the barriers of cosmetic limitations and wear a head that we weren’t born with? The idea terrifies me, but perhaps that is why I am so drawn to it: Science eliminates limitations. It is already eliminating the “fiction” in my “science fiction.”

Many of our other Stanford essays examples explicitly answer the prompt in the opening line. This essay, however, begins by revealing a broader truth about the writer: that they are a storyteller. This is something they embody throughout their essay, allowing the reader to imagine what the writer was like as a child before plunging them into a futuristic idea of their own.

They then connect this with the real-world science that connects to this broader idea. This grounds their interest and imagination with something going on in our world. By the end of the first of our short Stanford supplemental essays examples, we understand that this individual has passions across multiple disciplines. This essay merges science and literature to create a vivid picture of who the writer is and how they’d contribute to Stanford’s campus. 

Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (250 words)

“Indefinita eres.” Latin for “you are limitless.” I believe that we are all limitless. That with passion, hard work, and resilience almost any dream can be accomplished. And I have a lot of dreams.

My entire life, except for the two years I wanted to be Hannah Montana, I have strived to help others. My dream is to be a leader in bioengineering, shaping and contributing to the forefront of bioengineering research, in order to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Through my endless passion for math, science, and engineering, combined with my resilience and collaborative abilities, I know I will be able to accomplish this.

I have countless other dreams and aspirations as well. I started Latin in 6th grade and I was terrible at it. I decided I would become a “Latin master” to lay a foundation for Spanish fluency in college. I studied hard for four years and by my sophomore year I was extremely honored to earn a silver medal in the Latin III National Latin Exam. I want to run a half marathon (after my sprint triathlon, of course). Through dedication and discipline I have worked from barely being able to run to morning 7 mile runs and will be at 13.1 by April 2nd for the Big D half marathon.

Like other Stanford supplemental essays examples, this piece showcases how much information and personality you can fit into a single essay. This writer chose to focus on an idea versus an experience, which allowed them to talk about multiple moments of growth and perseverance and their variety of passions.

Great Stanford supplemental essays examples will make the most of any prompt. So long as you answer the prompt completely, don’t be afraid to pull together different moments of your life. Just make sure you have a through line to keep everything focused and connected!

Stanford Roommate Essay Examples

common application essay examples stanford

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. (250 words)

Stanford roommate essay examples #1.

In the spirit of inaugurating the life-long relationship I hope we’ll build this year, let me tell you a little about myself.

Hi, I’m Tom. I’m the second child of a comically over-optimistic refugee mother (my Vietnamese name translates, literally, to “celestial being”) and a proud Kentuckian with a deep passion for student-driven advocacy. I have two parents, two stepparents, a nineteen-year-old sister (a junior in Product Design, here, at Stanford), a three-year-old half-sister, two cats, one dog, and a complicated life that spans two households. So, I’m used to sharing space and managing shifting schedules.

I’ve also always been the “Mom” friend. To me, the little things—a chocolate chip cookie when I know a friend has a rough day ahead, words of encouragement before a big presentation, or staying up late to explain a tough physics problem—mean the most. I’ll be there when you need me—be it studying for tests or navigating personal challenges.

I recycle incessantly and am known to snatch cans out of the trash, wash them, and relocate them to neighboring blue bins. I keep a regular sleep schedule, rarely going to bed past midnight or waking up later than 8:30. I’m averse to gyms, opting instead to go for runs in the morning or follow along to a YouTube workout in the afternoon. 

I’m passionate, but also even-keeled. I think life is best taken in stride—worrying has never gotten me anywhere, but flexibility has taken me everywhere. I look forward to an awesome year!

Stanford Roommate Essay Examples #2

Dear Roomie, 

Some disclaimers before we room together: 

1. If I arrive before you, don’t be alarmed by the tissue boxes everywhere. My parents made the conscious decision to expand our cat population despite (or because of) my allergies, and my four cats probably ambushed my suitcase while I was packing. So don’t be surprised if I invite you to one-too-many games of Exploding Kittens. It’s me projecting my fantasies, so please indulge me.

2. Whenever you open a Google Doc around me, change the font to Georgia or Cambria (my personal favorites). If you’re a seasoned Arial user, you’re likely mindlessly going along with what everyone else is doing—I get it. But Arial is objectively a bad font; the only acceptable time to use Arial is if you’re being passive aggressive… and even then, just use comic sans… (Criticizing people’s font choices is only half my personality, I promise.) 

3. You’ll see me embarrassing myself around campus by flailing on the dance floor, doing improv, or in drag, and I hope to see the same from you. I want to get excited about everything you’re passionate about– interests I’ve probably never even thought about before. 

When I’m armed with a bottle of Zyrtec, being my roommate isn’t all bad. I’ll bring copious amounts of Peach Snapple bottles, probably enough to last the semester. You can take as many bottles as you want, so long as you leave me the Snapple “Facts”…. I’m an avid collector. 

Stanford Roommate Essay Examples #3

Hey Roomie! Yesterday was insane. I still can’t quite get over the energy in that stadium after that final play. I guess Berkeley couldn’t take back the axe to cut down these Trees!

I’m writing you this since I have an 8:30 Syntax and Morphology with Dr. Gribanov. I know, it’s early, but that class is honestly worth waking up for. Last Friday, he spent the entire period rambling about why regardless and irregardless are the same thing, but responsible and irresponsible aren’t. Just a fun little thought to start your day.

I’m also writing you this as a quick apology. I won’t be back from Mock Trial until late evening, and then I’ll be practicing for Stanford Symphony auditions. So, if you hear cacophonous noises in your sleep, it’s most likely me. Plus, it’s Mahler Symphony No. 1, so you might not sleep much anyway. Kidding.

These next few days are jam-packed, but I’m craving some much-needed bonding time! I have a proposal: how does a jam session this Friday at Terman Fountain sound? I’ll bring the guitar and plenty of oldies sheet music, you just gotta bring a snack and the desire to sing! I’ve sold a few people already. Join us?

Well, I’m headed to breakfast now. Text me if you want me to grab you anything.

Stanford Roommate Essay Examples #4

Dear Roomie,

Tupac Shakur is not dead. You might believe that he is, because yes, his body is buried somewhere. But many of his messages are still very much alive. So future roomie, if we are going to be as close as I hope (and if you see me rapping “Life Goes On” in my Star Wars pajamas), you should know this about me:

As a biracial person, I have felt extremely troubled for the past few years regarding the social inequalities and injustices in our society. 2PAC says in his song “Changes,” “I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black.” He says “I see no changes.”

I want to change this. I want Tupac’s spirit to behold a United States in which everyone has equal access to education and to healthcare. A U.S. where no one is discriminated against based on their race, gender, sexuality, or religion. I have already begun working towards equality, through educational outreach and political volunteerism. I will continue this at Stanford, through participating in peaceful protests and spreading awareness of the issues at hand. This might mean you’ll notice me coming and going a lot or going on frustrated rants about the ignorance and injustices in our society and our world. However, I hope you’re a person who will not only understand my perspective but be willing to march towards equality with me.

I am so excited for this year and the many years to come!

As noted in our Stanford Essays Guide , the Stanford roommate essay shows up nearly every year. These Stanford roommate essay examples show how fun a prompt like this can be to answer. Each of our Stanford roommate essay examples takes a slightly different approach. Some students write from the perspective of already attending Stanford; others opt for a list of important need-to-know facts.

The Stanford roommate essay examples show how open-ended this prompt actually is. If, after reading our Stanford roommate essay examples, you feel like you have no idea what to write about, know that there is no perfect recipe for responding to this prompt. Each of our Stanford roommate essay examples has a unique quality and flair.

A good rule of thumb you can take from our Stanford roommate essay examples is to remember who your audience is. Some essays touch on classic roommate topics, like sleep schedules, activities, and sharing snacks. However, the writer only includes these facts as a means of showing who they are. 

What Matters to You and Why Stanford Essay Examples

what matters to you and why stanford essay examples

What matters to you, and why? (250 words)

‘what matters to you and why’ stanford essay examples:.

“You’re stupid!!” exclaimed James. “Well you’re ugly!” shouted Ethan. We were sitting around the dinner table and my brothers, as usual, were bickering. After about two minutes of this, my dad broke into song. He sang, in a mostly on pitch falsetto, “what the world needs now, is love sweet love.” My brothers, my mom and I all rolled our eyes, but of course we kept singing. Then we sang “All you need is love” and “I’ll be there.” After years of this constant playlist, during laundry, dinners, and hikes, I realized what truly matters to me: love.

Love is what makes my life worth living. Whether it be love of my family, of my friends, of my activities, or of my future it makes me excited to get up and start my day. The sense of harmony I feel when dancing in the car with my family, or painting with my friends, or working with my team on our solar car is indescribably fulfilling. Through playing ukelele and singing with my family to working diligently in a lab to create a process that will alleviate the pain of another person, I will have the love that is of utmost importance to me. I will fill my life and the lives of others with love and harmony.

The last of our Stanford supplemental essays examples shows just how honest and vulnerable you can be in your essays. This essay does a great job of showing rather than telling. It gives us a great example of what love looks like to this student and how love continues to be the most important thing in their life.

How to write Stanford Supplemental Essays: 5 Tips!

1. start early.

If you’re worried about getting your Stanford essays up to par with these Stanford essays examples, don’t leave them to the last second. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the Stanford prompts and reviewing our Stanford supplemental essays examples. This can be the first step in your writing process. Next, start brainstorming topics and ideas you can start incorporating into your drafts.

2. Keep an idea journal

Now that you’ve reviewed different Stanford supplemental essay examples and have read Stanford essays that worked, it’s time to get brainstorming. Try writing down the main topics of each Stanford essay prompt, like “roommates,” “important experiences,” or “content I like.” Have a place where you can write down all your ideas as soon as they come to you. That way, when it comes time to start drafting your Stanford essays, you’ll have plenty of ideas.

3. Think outside the box

If you’re having trouble coming up with an answer to one of the Stanford essay prompts, don’t worry. Remember our “what matters to you and why Stanford essay examples?” These questions are at the core of what Stanford admissions is looking for. You’ll include traces of them in every Stanford essay you write regardless of which prompt you answer.

4. Consider what Stanford Admissions will take away from your Stanford essays

For instance, think about the Stanford roommate essay examples. While the prompt asked students to direct their attention to their future roommate. Remember your reader will be coming in with the perspective of an admissions officer, not your potential future roommate. While this may seem like the space to offer up fun, random facts about yourself and your interests, consider how the characteristics you choose to highlight build upon other aspects of your application and Stanford essays.

5. Draft, edit, rewrite, edit, and edit again

These Stanford supplemental essays examples weren’t written overnight. You can’t expect to produce Stanford essays as engaging and effective as our Stanford essay examples unless you put in enough time and effort. Remember, our Stanford essays examples are final drafts. Make sure you get your first draft down on paper as soon as you can so you have plenty of time to edit, proofread, and finalize your essays.

Stanford Essay Examples- Final Thoughts

common application essay examples stanford

Applying to Stanford can feel overwhelming, especially given the low Stanford acceptance rate. If Stanford is your dream school , you should do all you can to ensure your Stanford essays shine.  

If you’re looking for answers on how to get into Stanford, think carefully about every aspect of the Stanford application. Knowing the requirements for the Stanford application will be much more helpful than worrying about the Stanford acceptance rate.

Focus on what you can control

So, focus on the parts of the Stanford admissions process you can control, like your responses to the Stanford essay prompts. Understanding the prompts, then looking at Stanford essays that worked, can give you a sense of what Stanford admissions looks for when reviewing applications. Then, you can take the lessons and learnings from Stanford essay examples and incorporate them into your own essays.

Take a look at our how to get into Stanford guide for more tips on the Stanford application process. We discuss how Stanford Admissions reviews applications, the Stanford acceptance rate, the interview process, and more strategies on how to get into Stanford.

As you begin working on your Stanford essays, feel free to look back on these Stanford essays examples. Rather than using them as a shining example you need to model your own Stanford essay after, think about why they worked, the impact they had on you, and how you can incorporate those techniques into your own essay. So remember, get started early, and good luck.

common application essay examples stanford

This article was written by Stefanie Tedards. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.

common application essay examples stanford

Personalized and effective college advising for high school students.

  • Advisor Application
  • Popular Colleges
  • Privacy Policy and Cookie Notice
  • Student Login
  • California Privacy Notice
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Your Privacy Choices

By using the College Advisor site and/or working with College Advisor, you agree to our updated Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy , including an arbitration clause that covers any disputes relating to our policies and your use of our products and services.

  • College Application

Stanford Supplemental Essay Examples for

With tips for writing a compelling essay.

Stanford Supplemental Essay Examples

Looking at Stanford supplemental essay examples is a great way to prepare for your own  college supplemental essays . Even if you are not planning on attending  Stanford University , you will find that reviewing different college essays will help you learn how to tackle various types of essay prompts so that you can learn to write a better essay. If you are applying to Stanford or any other prestigious university, like the  Ivy League Schools , you will need a compelling essay to improve your chances of admission.

Every year, universities like Stanford get thousands of applications from students with good grades and strong extracurriculars, and only a few of them get admitted. In fact, last year, Stanford had an acceptance rate that was just under 4%. If you want to stand out and be part of those few students who get an offer of admission, you will need to write a college essay that stands out.

Reviewing different  college essay examples  can help you do that. So take a look at the X outstanding Stanford supplemental college essay examples that we share in this blog. We also share a few tips to help you ace your college essays and tackle tricky topics like the notorious Stanford roommate essay. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 6 min read

Stanford supplemental essay example # 1.

Prompt: 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. (100 – 250 words)

My mother loves to tell me that I was born in a garden. It's not exactly true. Her water broke in our backyard garden, and she didn't feel the need to hurry to the hospital. It's my grandmother who came home from work and found her in the middle of the garden that finally convinced her that her tomatoes could wait while I - the baby she needed to give birth to - could not.

She blames those few minutes for my obsession with agriculture, but I believe it stems from watching her care for her garden. I remember watching her plant seeds as a child and being amazed when actual food started growing out of the ground within a few weeks.

I started helping her out in her garden when I was a child, and we volunteered together for the local community garden. As I grew up, I became more curious about agriculture. I started asking questions in school and researching independently to learn more. It led me to the national agriculture  summer program for high school students , where I got to learn more about the technical aspects of food production and distribution.

That experience reaffirmed the decision that I have made to learn about agricultural economics and sustainability. I am genuinely excited to learn what we can do to improve the current processes in order to make things better for future generations. I believe that Stanford's sustainability program is the best place for me to do that.  (248 words)

Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 – 250 words)

"Not thanking is Witchcraft, Annie. You have to thank people for their effort". Those are my grandmother's words. She often reminds me that the profoundly traditional Shawna people of Zimbabwe, where she and my parents were raised, believe that not thanking is witchcraft more often than I can remember. 

As a child, I loved my grandmother but thought she was very annoying. She speaks very little English, and my Shawna is not very good, so sometimes it's hard to understand her. She also loves to tell me stories about the village she grew up in, which I have never seen and will likely never see because, according to her, the foreigners have built shopping malls where it was. 

I started appreciating my grandmother when I began learning about oral history in class. It occurred to me that although I was born and raised in the US, I am a Zimbabwean American and most of my connection to my culture comes from her. She always made it a point to cook traditional foods like Sadza for my siblings and me, speak to us in Shawna even when she knew how to say it in English, and teach us about our culture. 

My relationship with her and the stories she shares with us have allowed me to connect with my heritage, and they prompted my interest in African history and cultures. So I'd like to wrap up this short essay by thanking her for teaching me and thanking you for considering my application.  (250 words)

Wondering how to get into a top college with a low GPA? Check this out:

Prompt: 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—get to know you better. (100 – 250 words)

Dear future roommate, 

The first thing you need to know about me is that almost every song is "my jam". You will probably start rolling your eyes every time I say, "ouh, that's my song" by the end of our first week together. Don't worry; I won't take it personally. I will also try not to sing or hum loudly, but I know this will be a serious challenge, so if I get carried away and disturb you when you're studying or just having some quiet time, let me know, and I will stop. 

I hope you're a music lover too so we can listen to some great records together. Yes, you read that right. I said records because I have an old-school record player and a great collection of vinyls that has a bit of everything, including Kendrick Lamar, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Frank Sinatra.

If music is not your thing, then I'm sure we'll find something else to bond over. I also enjoy reading, shopping, and defending the superiority of DC comics over marvel. I also enjoy trying new things, so I hope you'll be open to introducing me to one of your hobbies. I'm willing to try anything that doesn't involve horses. I know that they are cute and majestic, but one of them scarred me for life, and I am kind of scared of them now. 

I look forward to telling you the whole story one day soon and learning about you. 

(249 words)

Tips for tackling the Stanford roommate essay

Many students find the Stanford roommate essay especially difficult to write because it is so broad and a bit more personal than most college essays. When tackling this prompt, you should remember that even though the admissions committee will be reading this essay, it needs to be written as if it were addressed to a peer. By asking you to write to your college roommate, they have given you a writing assignment, and you need to follow instructions. So your tone should be a bit less formal but still courteous. It would also be best to avoid focusing on academia in this essay.

This particular prompt gives you a chance to humanize your application so take advantage of that. Many students approach this essay the same way they do the " tell me about yourself" interview question , but this is not the same thing. This essay should focus more on providing the admissions committee with an authentic portrayal of your character and personality. You can't share everything in 250 words, so we recommend making a list of everything you'd want to share with an actual future roommate and then narrowing it down to the three or four things that are most meaningful to you.

Check out this video for more college essay tips:

Contrary to popular belief in my home, I cannot wait to meet you! 

There are thirteen people in my house on most days. That includes my parents, eight siblings, grandmother, and two cousins. Most of them assumed that I would have opted to live on my own so that I could have some peace and quiet. I can see why they'd think that, but the truth is that while I enjoy doing many things on my own- like curling up on the couch with a good book and some ginger tea or drawing- I also enjoy being around people. 

One of the reasons I am excited about college is that I get a chance to try new things and meet new people. I like to explore and learn about different cultures, so I hope you'll feel comfortable telling me about where you're from and teaching me about your culture. I am Senegalese-American, and I hope that I'll get a chance to introduce you to some Senegalese food because it is delicious, and I think everyone should try it at least once. 

I don't cook very often, but I love food, so I look forward to checking out all the different restaurants on and near campus. I love to spend Saturday nights on the couch with good company, great takeout, and a good movie. If that sounds like a fun night to you, then I think we will get along just fine. 


(246 words)

Conclusion & Writing tips

Your supplemental college essays can significantly impact the admissions committee's decision, so it is important that you do everything you can to write an essay that will not only be attention-grabbing but will also add value to your overall application. This is especially important if you are hoping to  get into college with a low GPA.   So, here are a few tips to help you write a more compelling essay. 

Many promising students don't know  how to write a college essay . If you are one of them, or if you feel that you need some additional guidance as you write your essay, then you should reach out to a  college essay advisor  for support. Or, if you've already started working on your essay, it may be a good idea to reach out to a  college essay review service . These services are offered by admission professionals who will be able to identify issues in your essay that the untrained eye may not be able to. "}]">

Last year, only 3.9% of the students who applied to Stanford were offered admission, so it is fair to say that it is a highly competitive school. You will need an outstanding application to get in. 

Many assume that Stanford is an Ivy League School, but it is actually not. It is, however, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States and the entire world.

Do not underestimate the importance of your college essays. Every year, Stanford gets applications from thousands of students with high GPAs and impressive extracurriculars. Your essays give the school a chance to find out what else you bring to the table.

These essays are relatively short. You’re between 100-250 words.

One of Stanford's oldest and most well-known supplemental essay prompts asks students to write a letter to their future roommates. It is one of the essays that students often find challenging.

Your roommate essay needs to be about you! This essay is supposed to tell the admission committee what you are like as a person, what interests you, and what you can contribute to the Stanford campus. So, talk about your hobbies, habits, and interests outside of academia.

You can improve the overall quality of your essays by having a strong opening, using specific examples, showing instead of telling, and ensuring that your essay is error-free. If you're not sure how to do this, reach out to a college essay advisor for some assistance. 

We recommend starting your essay with a "hook" or something catchy like an anecdote, a gripping or funny fun fact about you so that you can grab the reader's attention from the very beginning.

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!

Apple Podcasts

Like our blog? Write for us ! >>

Have a question ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions, get started now.

Talk to one of our admissions experts

Our site uses cookies. By using our website, you agree with our cookie policy .

FREE Training Webinar:

How to make your college applications stand out, (and avoid the top 5 mistakes that get most rejected).

Time Sensitive. Limited Spots Available:

We guarantee you'll get into your dream college or university or you don't pay.

Swipe up to see a great offer!

common application essay examples stanford

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.


tonybruess / 00 Common App and Stanford

  • Star 40 You must be signed in to star a gist
  • Fork 3 You must be signed in to fork a gist

Common App & Stanford Essays

The following are my responses to the main Common App essay and the Stanford application questions. You're welcome to read them to try and understand how I got "in" to Stanford, or just for fun. Whatever you choose to try and take away from these essays, I hope you get something out of them. Or nothing at all, that works too. Enjoy.

A Brief Note

There's no secret formula. There are a lot of people more qualified than me that got denied. Even though they may have been more qualified, I beat them when it came to the essays. The most important part of your application is your essays, so I would encourage you to spend a lot of time on them. Spend time reflecting on who you are and how you can use your essays to communicate that. The readers of the over 40,000 Stanford applicants know a fake essay from a mile away. If you want to have a chance at admission, your essays need to be 100% authentic you, not 90% authentic you and 10% your mom/tutor/fake self.

If you plan to apply, I wish you the best of luck. Spend time writing well thought out essays that reflect who you truly are because, I will reiterate, they are the most important part of your application. I didn't have perfect grades/GPA and I got a 31 (preceded by a 29) on the ACT and wasn't involved in any extracurriculars at school besides swimming. I made my essays count and that is honestly what matters most.

Prompt (Common App)

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (650 word limit.)

January 9th, 2007 was not your average Tuesday. At 11 a.m. CST, Steve Jobs was scheduled to deliver his highly anticipated MacWorld keynote. Like other Apple fanatics, I anticipated something huge and knew I couldn’t miss watching Jobs unveil Apple’s next genius innovation. Late Monday night, my mom finally relented; she would allow me to skip school the next day. In doing so, she acknowledged something that to this day everyone in my life knows about me. The innovative spirit of Apple has become a profound part of who I am and how I see myself: as an intrepid innovator, a young entrepreneur/business owner, and someone who, from the second I could pick up a mouse, has been obsessed with everything techy.

Cords, gadgets and screens have been my signature since infancy. According to my baby book, my first real word was “hose.” I thought those long green things in people’s yards were outdoor electrical cords. At age six I wanted only one thing from Santa: an overhead projector. “He” found one on eBay. At age eight I purchased (with my own savings) and installed (by myself) a dazzling holiday light display that not only lit up the entire neighborhood but our electrical bill as well. This same year I launched my first successful business: Tony’s Tech Help. Two years later and after saving many months’ earnings, I invested in my first laptop. I was unaware at the time how that purchase would significantly kindle my computer science curiosity.

My new best friend was that new MacBook Pro. I spent hours learning about it while my parents spent hours screaming: “Too much screen time!” At age 11, I was authoring hacky programs and writing bits of code. At age 12, I rented my first server and became fluent in multiple programming languages. In 8th grade, I didn’t just go to school; I spent time each day monitoring my servers and maintaining more than a dozen websites for local businesses and nonprofits. At age 15, I had the idea that would become my next business.

Enter Minecraft, the defining game of my generation. It was Fall 2012 and I started dabbling in coding Minecraft server “plug-ins.” It didn’t take long until buzz about my work grew and I became one of the recognized experts in the global server community. Then came an idea: develop team combat matches organized by server plug-ins on unique Minecraft maps, a concept no one else had yet brought to market. What came next was a prototype, and then growth: from a dozen players on my development server to more than a hundred players on my first 24/7 server. People loved what I had to offer! Just a few months later my infrastructure built on Java, Ruby, MongoDB, and Nginx was exploding with new subscribers and became “The Overcast Network.” By 2013 I was seeing nearly 100,000 unique users and more than 1,000,000 page views per week. I also saw competing servers popping up attempting to mimic my concept. Watching my idea become a wildly successful business was an incredible feeling. In the last 10 months, unique users and page views per week have doubled. I’m also about to present at the international Minecraft convention, Minecon, on the panel “Growing Server Communities.”

While designing the gameplay, website, and overall user experience of Overcast, there is something that not only keeps me inspired, but keeps the frequent feeling of chaos from becoming overwhelming: Apple and Steve Jobs’ legacy. Their everlasting inspiration teaches me time and again about innovation through design, simplicity and the value of risk-taking. As I look to what’s next in both my computer science education and in my life as an entrepreneur, I will, as Jobs’ himself urged in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (250 word limit.)

The most intellectually challenging experience of my life has been applying ideas across multiple fields of study -- from physics, history, statistics and programming; to excellent writing, critical thinking, and persuasion; to applied economics and business ethics -- toward the development of The Overcast Network. My LLC is not based solely on eight self-taught computer languages. It’s an enterprise requiring my whole academic self, including more knowledge and research than I could have ever anticipated.

I’ve also learned a great deal about leadership. Almost out of the blue I was CEO of a startup. The community I never set out to create grew rapidly and suddenly people looked up to me. I had been somewhat of a leader in grade, middle and high school, but this was different. Not only was I at the helm of Overcast, I wasn’t completely sure how to navigate what was ahead, mostly because I didn’t know. Abandoning ship was not an option. Rather, I sought the wisdom of a host of experts: attorneys, established entrepreneurs, business leaders and heads of non-profits. It has been, no doubt, the biggest research project of my life.

One day, 14 months ago, my role as entrepreneur and leader was punctuated when I noticed, on one of my servers, a private message from a user I didn’t know. He disclosed: “You’re my role model.” Like most people, I have role models. Never would I have imagined I could be someone else’s, especially at the age of 17.

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. (250 word limit.)

Hey roommate:

Can’t wait to meet you! Here are top ten things you should know about me, the guy with whom you’ll soon be sharing a very small space.

Being from Minnesota, you’ll make fun of my accent and my wardrobe. I’ll wear shorts and T-shirts in January; the weather is in California is always warm compared to where I’ve lived for 18 years.

I’ll miss my beloved dog, Fred. Even at 5.5 lbs, he serves up endless love and fun.

Before my morning cereal, little conversation please. After that, I’m super pleasant.

If you have problems with any technology, I can fix them lightening-quick. No charge!

One of my regrets was not discovering study groups until junior year of high school. Once I found new friend groups and awesome study partners in my honors and AP classes, intense study became immensely more manageable (and enjoyable)! I love to invite people over and learn together.

I will play Minecraft.

Fair warning: I will probably make you play Minecraft.

My friends describe me with a single word: “Sass.” I love to laugh, argue, and tease!

I’m not a “suck up,” but really enjoy engaging teachers and getting to know them. I’m never afraid to talk to someone with whom I’m unacquainted.

My parents and sister have already pre-paid multiple weekends at “The Stanford Guest House.” They can’t wait to see me (and escape Minnesota winters, too)!

See you soon!

What matters to you, and why? (250 word limit.)

Giving back matters. My desire to serve started at a young age. In December 2nd grade, I recall watching our local NBC station conduct their annual Toys for Tots’ campaign, a massive effort inspiring organizations to collect toys for in-need kids. In 4th grade, I decided to act, launching Tony’s Toys for Tots. Soliciting from neighbors, teachers, friends and relatives, the annual tradition began. Each November and December I watched the progressively larger pile of new toys grow in our basement. In winter of 7th grade, my final year of Tony’s Toys for Tots, we needed multiple vehicles to deliver the nearly 300 toys I had single-handedly collected.

Beginning in 9th grade, I shifted my giving to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Twin Cities, an innovative school situated in urban Minneapolis and serving some of our communities’ most underserved youth. The past four summers I volunteered countless hours helping their technology department provide reliable computing resources to Cristo Rey students. I’m proud to have played a small role in the 100% of Cristo Rey seniors accepted to college or the military.

Most recently, I’ve taken on expansive tech-responsibilities for Prodeo Academy, a just-opened K-8 charter school with a mission of bridging Minnesota’s achievement gap. In partnership with The Lawlor Group, I continue to design, develop, and maintain Prodeo’s web presence, run their email and Google Drive, and provide on-going support.

I’m excited to continue my tradition of service, and to fully engage my new community of Palo Alto.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit.)

During the summers before my junior and senior years I not only volunteered a lot, but worked 50-60 hours a week building my business, The Overcast Network. Wanting to be around creative entrepreneurs, I rented space in a hip warehouse downtown St. Paul. I’d get to the office by about 9 a.m. and do programming almost all day, sometimes late into the evening. My friends thought I was crazy; they forced me not to work late on Fridays and keep Saturdays open! They, unlike my parents who have come to appreciate my passion and drive, were simultaneously concerned and intrigued: How could a teenager have so much excitement for a job? What I experienced these past two summers was incredible. I love my job. In an age when most people (especially teenagers) are stressed and/or don’t enjoy their work, it’s exciting to feel exactly the opposite.

Name your favorite books, authors, films, and/or musical artists.

OneRepublic, Daniel H. Wilson, The Postal Service, Jonathan Kozol, Cutting for Stone, Scooby-Doo: The Movie, My Neighbor Totoro, and Iron Man 1

What newspapers, magazines, and/or websites do you enjoy?

Twitter, Reddit, Engadget, Star Tribune (Minneapolis newspaper), National Geographic, Gizmodo, and Scientific American Mind

What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit.)

While war, poverty, and global climate change are among the most troubling issues facing the human race, without full and uncensored access to information we can’t solve, rather we create, social problems. When governments limit freedom of speech, they oppress. In censoring, they suppress the greatest good: an educated citizenry.

How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit.)

The past two summers I pretty much did four things: Write computer code, volunteer, swim, and relax. Coding and work took the majority of time. However, I intentionally made time for my favorite sport, swimming, serving at a local high school, and hanging out with friends/family.

What were your favorite events (e.g., performances, exhibits, sporting events, etc.) this past year? (50 word limit.)

My favorite annual event spans the month of September: iTunes Festival. The event features a vast array of music, the highlight being the one or two artists performing live from London each day. The live stream experience is phenomenal.

What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit.)

Before Steve Jobs passed away, I dreamed of being present to witness the energy and excitement at his infamous keynotes. Whenever I would watch one of the live streams, I felt I belonged there due to the profound influence his innovative spirit has had on me.

What five words best describe you?

Tech guru. Apple fanboy. Mathematician.


Gabriella971 commented Jul 30, 2022

Very interesting. Thanks

Sorry, something went wrong.


aryankeluskar commented Sep 18, 2022

I have never met you, but can easily confirm you are going to slay! 🔥


LuterVVV commented Oct 29, 2022

Good afternoon! Sincerity is a rarity these days, so I'm glad it worked out for you. Good luck!

  • Student Life

Gateways for...

  • Admission Volunteers

First-Year Applicants

  • Application and Essays

If you would like to apply to Stanford, please do so online by submitting the Common Application .

When you apply to Stanford, you apply to the university as a whole, not to a particular major, department or school. We encourage you to indicate prospective majors and career interests in the application, but please know you are not bound by these selections in any way.

The Common Application includes essay prompts for your personal essay. In addition to the personal essay, we also require the Stanford Questions, which you can access and submit through the Common Application once you add Stanford University to your list of colleges.

The essays are your chance to tell us about yourself in your own words; there are no right or wrong answers and you should allow your genuine voice to come through. These questions help us get to know you as a friend, future roommate and classmate.

Stanford Questions

We ask applicants to answer several short questions (limit 50 words each) and to write a short essay on each of the three topics below.

Short Essay Questions

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—get to know you better.
  • Please describe what aspects of your life experiences, interests and character would help you make a distinctive contribution as an undergraduate to Stanford University.
  • Admission Overview
  • Holistic Admission
  • Admission Statistics
  • Requirements and Deadlines
  • Regular Decision and Restrictive Early Action
  • Academic Preparation
  • Application Fee/Fee Waiver
  • Standardized Testing
  • Transcript and Required School Forms
  • Arts Portfolio
  • Guidelines for Home-Schooled Applicants
  • After Submitting Your Application

Transfer Applicants

  • Eligibility & Transfer Credit
  • Transcripts and College Report
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • International Applicants

Veterans and ROTC

  • Financial Aid and the Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Selecting the Appropriate Application Plan
  • Key Contacts
  • Undocumented Applicants
  • QuestBridge
  • Admission Forums, Student Programs, and Special Events
  • Virtual Campus Visits
  • Discover Stanford
  • Stanford Preview and Viewbook
  • Join the Mailing List
  • University Policies

Engage with Us


Stanford complies with the Jeanne Clery Act and publishes crime statistics for the most recent three-year period. View the full report .

Stanford University

  • Stanford Home
  • Maps & Directions
  • Search Stanford
  • Emergency Info
  • Terms of Use
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Accessibility

© Stanford University . Stanford , California 94305 .

Shemmassian Academic Consulting

Your Trusted Advisors for Admissions Success

Admissions and test prep resources to help you get into your dream schools

How to Get Into Stanford Undergrad: Essays and Strategies That Worked

How hard it is to get into stanford learn the stanford acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and read successful essay examples.

common application essay examples stanford


Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: stanford admission requirements, part 3: applying to stanford early action vs. regular decision, part 4: 2022–2023 stanford supplemental essays (examples included).

Perhaps you’ve begun the endless research and campus tours that comprise so many parents’ lives as their high schoolers apply to college. If you’re the parent of a high-achieving teen, you’re likely visiting Ivy League universities. 

Have you also planned a trip to perhaps the most famous of the “Ivy Plus” schools, Stanford University , in the Bay Area of California?

While their highly ranked Ivy League peers like Harvard and Yale boast of being the oldest or among the oldest universities in the country, Stanford lays claim to being forward-looking and cutting-edge. 

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, a stone’s throw from the corporate headquarters of Apple, Google, and Facebook, Stanford students enjoy a cozy relationship with the booming tech world, often earning top internships at such companies and even going on to found their own, drawing on Stanford’s extensive network of technologists and venture capitalists. It’s been called “the billionaire factory.”

But Stanford isn’t just a training ground for the Valley. Stanford undergrads might also research in a world-famous medical center’s laboratories or attend readings with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists. 

Your child might find her calling in the Asian American Studies or the Chicano/Latino Studies programs, where she can engage with California’s rich history of migration. She might combine an interest in technology and the canon by pursuing a minor in digital humanities.

Or, your child might be taken with the prestigious programs in economics or international relations, perhaps in Stanford’s unique interdisciplinary International Security Studies or Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law paths, while sharing a campus with Condoleezza Rice. 

The point is this: Stanford’s reputation for innovation may come from its connection to the tech world, but a creative approach to intellectual pursuits can be seen across disciplines.

If your child finds themselves walking beneath the rolling red Mediterranean-style roofs of Stanford, they’ll have much to look forward to, from a bustling residential life in the dorms and co-ops to evenings spent cheering on the nationally competitive basketball team to many days studying beneath palm trees.

Of course, getting into Stanford is no easy feat. Fortunately, our team has helped many Stanford applicants achieve results like this:

"I would like to share the amazing news with you. [name removed] just checked his Stanford portal and he got accepted to Stanford for the class of 2024. We are still shocked and it felt so unreal. Thank you so much to both of you for your support throughout his college application process." STUDENT ACCEPTED TO STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Read on to learn the Stanford University acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and strategies for crafting compelling application materials.

Stanford University ranking

Stanford is always near the top of all major university rankings, breathing down Harvard’s neck.

U.S. News and World Report: 3 (tie)

Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education: 2

Where is Stanford?

Stanford is technically located in Stanford, CA, but most people call its home Palo Alto. Just north of Mountain View (home to Google) and Cupertino (home to Apple), Palo Alto is clean, safe, and home to many posh restaurants, yoga studios, and boutiques.

Stanford setting

Palo Alto’s suburban population is around 69,000 people, but because towns bleed into one another in the Bay Area, that 69,000 can feel quite big. Palo Alto fills up during the day with workers commuting to tech companies.

Much of Palo Alto’s University Avenue offerings are expensive and beyond the standard student budget, but Palo Alto connects via Caltrain to San Francisco, where students might grab a cheap, delicious burrito or check out museums and theater. With some effort on public transit or with a car, students can also make their way to San Jose, or to Berkeley or Oakland, for more exploration.

Stanford student population

Undergraduate students: 7,645

Graduate and professional students: 9,292

Stanford acceptance rate

Below are admissions statistics for the class of 2025:

Applications: 55,471

Acceptances: 2,190

Matriculants: 2,126 (includes 369 students who deferred from 2020 entrance)

Acceptance rate: 3.95%

Stanford has stopped reporting its early acceptance rates in an effort to keep from discouraging potential applicants.

(Suggested reading: Ivy League Acceptance Rates )

Stanford tuition and scholarships

Stanford’s 2022–2023 cost of attendance (i.e., tuition, room, board, and fees) is $82,162.

The average need-based financial aid award for freshman students is $62,557. Stanford covers 100 percent of demonstrated need, and families earning $75,000 per year or less typically are not expected to contribute to their child’s cost of education.

Who gets into Stanford?

To assist you in assessing your child’s odds of getting into Stanford, we’ve provided academic and demographic information related to successful Stanford applicants:

96% of students ranked in the top 10% of their high school class.

Stanford average GPA: 3.96

Stanford average ACT score:

25th percentile: 32

75th percentile: 35

Stanford average SAT Evidence Based Reading and Writing score:

25th percentile: 720

7th percentile: 770

Stanford average SAT Math score:

25th percentile: 750

75th percentile: 800

International students: 13%

Public school attendees: 60%

First-generation college students: 18%

23% white, 25% Asian, 18% Latine/Latinx, and 8% African American

Over 90% of our students get into one or more of their top 3 schools

Get our free 110-page guide for strategies to become the kind of applicant that selective colleges love to admit: How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide

100% privacy. No spam. Ever.

Thank you! Your guide is on its way. In the meantime, please let us know how we can help you crack the the college admissions code . You can also learn more about our 1-on-1 college admissions support here .

Stanford academic requirements

Stanford doesn’t expect its freshmen to have completed a set amount of coursework before matriculating, but most successful applicants have four years of English and math, and three or more years of science/lab science, social studies/history, and a foreign language. 

Like many of its peer schools, Stanford’s is a holistic admissions process. Committees will not simply count up your child’s AP or IB courses , or the hours spent in extracurricular activities . 

Rather, Stanford hopes to see your child regularly challenge themselves academically, taking advantage of the intellectual resources available to them at their school — which might mean taking eight APs, or two and a community college class.

Stanford application requirements

In addition to all that, here’s what else your child will need in order to apply. Stanford accepts the Common Application and the Coalition application.

Common App Essay

Optional in 2022–2023: ACT or SAT test scores

Optional: IB, AP, or AICE test results

2 letters of recommendation

School report and counselor letter of recommendation

School transcripts and midyear transcript

Optional arts portfolio for highly accomplished students in art practice, dance, music, or theater and performance (note that arts applicants have a separate deadline to meet)

Students can apply to Stanford via restrictive early action , submitting all material by November 1st to receive a decision by December 15th.

Your child can also apply to Stanford regular decision. The Stanford regular decision deadline is January 5th with decisions being released on April 1st.

Should my child apply to Stanford early?

If Stanford is your child’s top choice or close to their top choice and they don’t need or want to apply to another university through restrictive early action or binding early decision, then applying early to Stanford might be a good choice. 

Remember that, though we don’t have access to Stanford’s comparative early/regular decision data, most schools that practice restrictive early action tend to have higher acceptance rates during the early round than in the late round. 

This is not because those schools are practicing preferential admissions for early applicants, but rather because those applicants applying early tend to be highly qualified and well-prepared, hence their ability to apply before November 1st.

(Suggested reading: Early Action vs. Early Decision: Pros and Cons and What Your Child Should Do )

Part 4: 2022-2023 Stanford supplemental essays (examples included)

(Note: While this section covers Stanford’s admissions essays specifically, we encourage you to view additional successful college essay examples .)

In addition to the Common App essay, Stanford applicants will answer a series of short answer questions as well as write several supplemental essays . Below, we’ll go through each question and provide guidance on how to answer it, as well as show you an example answer that works.  

Stanford short answer questions

Stanford asks applicants to answer the following five short answer questions, using up to 50 words per question:

What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?

How did you spend your last two summers?

What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?

Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family.

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford.

All of these short answer prompts are a chance for your child to show off some aspect of themselves that might have otherwise been stifled by the rest of the application process. That really is how they should think of it: what about me —not about my resume or my transcript, but about me —have I not had the chance to display yet?

Here are a few examples of mini-essays that work well for these prompts, which are not unlike Yale’s short answers. They’re pulled from the following students, who are composites of the many applicants we’ve worked with in nearly 20 years in the admissions advising world.

Jane grew up in semi-rural Oregon and will be the second person in her family to attend college, after her sister. She’s interested in medicine.

Olga has Eastern European parents who settled in Paris and raised her trilingual before sending her to an East Coast boarding school. At Stanford, she’d love to pursue one of the international relations programs.

Marcus’s father is a pastor in Baltimore. He’s considered ministry himself, but is also drawn to technology and architecture.

Deepak was born and raised in Cupertino, California. He’s worked on his school paper and been a star on the speech and debate team. He has no idea what he’d like to major in.

Learn how to write outstanding supplemental college essays

Get our free 110-page guide to help you with every single one: How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide

Here’s how some of these students tackled the short answers.

Question 1: What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 words)

Olga wrote:

We are at risk of eliminating heterodoxical discourse. As our attention spans get shorter and our appetite for information greater, we have less tolerance for substantive public discussion. I think about this every month as I lay out our newspaper’s opinion page. ‘Are we missing something here?’ I ask myself.

What works about this answer?

Olga gives her “challenge” a name. (Hers is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s tempered by the clear language surrounding it.) By naming the issue—the elimination of heterodoxical discourse—she signals to the Stanford admissions committee that she has read and thought enough about the issue to encapsulate it.

Olga also brings the “challenge” back to her personal story. The newspaper is a minor extracurricular for her. But by swinging back to the room where she sits once a month thinking about public opinion, she assures us that there’s a reason she thinks about this issue.

Olga’s approach is better than simply writing, “The climate is changing” or “Nuclear weapons are bad”—both of which might in fact be larger issues than Olga’s choice but which she has less personal, direct experience with.

Remember: this prompt is not an invitation to write a policy paper in 50 words. It’s a chance for your child to talk about something that feels urgent to them, intellectually, spiritually, politically, etc. 

Question 2: How did you spend your last two summers? (50 words)

Question 3: What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 words)

Question 4: Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family. (50 words)

Question 5: Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 words)

common application essay examples stanford

Gain instant access to essay examples for every supplemental essay prompt from the top universities and BS/MD programs in the United States. Subscribe now to lock in the current investments, which will increase on September 15, 2023.

Stanford supplemental essays

On top of those short answers, applicants must also respond to three supplemental essay prompts located in Stanford’s Common App under the “Short Essays” section. The 2022–2023 questions, each of which must be answered in 100–250 words, are as follows:

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—get to know you better.

Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?

We’ll walk you through how to answer Question 1 and Question 3 here. We have a separate guide to answering Question 2, the infamous Stanford roommate essay .

Question 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.

We like to call this one the “Intellectual Vitality Essay.” Through the years, we’ve seen students write about a number of types of topics in response to this prompt.

Coursework: Some students pick their favorite class or a favorite subject area and discuss what they love about it. It’s a great strategy to elaborate on something already visible in your application, as long as you’re not simply saying that you have studied Spanish for five years. More interesting is a discussion of that time you fell in love with Don Quixote , and why. 

Extracurriculars: Similarly, many students choose to elaborate on some extracurricular activity or job that means a lot to them. Deepak’s short answer on debate above is a good example of how to make this approach. Your child should never simply summarize what’s already visible or intuited from their application. They must always add a story to what’s already visible, by providing specific examples, images, anecdotes, and takeaways.

Autodidactic pursuits: If your child is a tinkerer, a maker, a self-taught coder or linguist or musician or writer, then they can use this chance to talk about something that’s not on their application at all. This is a great way to add a whole new dimension.

Personal, emotional, or otherwise internal pursuits: Is your child particularly emotionally intelligent, intuitive, or interested in personal growth? Self-improvement is another way into this topic. We’ve seen students write about learning resilience through grief or persistence through athletics. 

Two more things are worth noting about this prompt. Students can choose between an idea and an experience . 

In order to write a foolproof essay, we strongly recommend building around an experience in some form, even if it’s only a slight connection. Remember that your child is not being asked to write a paper about, say, phenomenology, even if that’s the idea that gets them psyched about learning. 

Encourage them to connect that idea to their personal biography for a sentence or a paragraph. When did they first encounter said idea? What caused the spark or the Eureka moment? Was there another person who helped introduce them to that idea? Who are they? 

Experiences contain in them characters, rooms, scenes, images, and above all, specificity. Your child’s essay is very likely to come across as vague rather than insightful and philosophical if it does not contain some link to experience.

Here’s Jane’s essay:

A lot of people mention measles in the same breath as scarlet fever or polio. It’s supposed to be obsolete. But that’s not the case in Oregon, where I’m from, and where some of my own relatives have what they feel is a healthy suspicion of vaccination. 

The summer I first went to an intensive program for female and minority STEM teenagers at Oregon State was also the summer I spent a week with some family members who are extremely skeptical of vaccinations. It was strange to leave OSU and land up at a dinner table where my uncle was decrying not only shots but also climate change and other issues the liberal science geeks I’d just spent four weeks with hold dear. 

At first, I wanted to point out how wrong my family was, but when I started to listen, I realized that they’d read a lot—they just weren’t reading the sources I’d been taught to trust, and they weren’t following scientific methods of inquiry. 

I still don’t know how to reconcile those two worlds, but I know someone has to try. I dream of being a doctor because someone has to learn about not only the science but also the society the science is meant to help, and I plan to do both.

Jane’s essay could sort of fall under the extracurricular pursuit category, and it might also fall under the internal pursuit category. But it’s so strong because it actually transcends all of the above “types.” 

She manages to interweave the personal and the intellectual clearly and compellingly while also displaying an emotional maturity—Jane doesn’t call her family members foolish, but in fact demonstrates her empathy and willingness to take on their point of view.

Here’s what else Jane does well:

She doesn’t spend too much time explaining the extracurricular activity to which her story is linked. She knows the Stanford admissions committee will have her resumé on hand, and she knows she doesn’t have to brag about, say, how selective her program was. Instead she gets right to the business of elaboration.

Her essay includes characters other than herself (her family members, and specifically her uncle; her classmates at the program). She doesn’t spend much time describing them, which is fine. What’s important is that each small detail helps ground the idea in an experience .

Jane makes her way to a clear thesis by the end of the essay, a thesis which also spins her essay forward: she wants to become a doctor in part to address misunderstandings about science. We could call her “idea” something like scientific literacy or public health education. 

Question 3: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?

Final thoughts

Stanford is a reach school for every applicant, regardless of how qualified they are. But if your child can engage fully and passionately with the Stanford application, especially its school-specific supplemental questions, they’ll become a far more compelling applicant, and may indeed find themselves roaming the sunny California campus one day. 

common application essay examples stanford

About the Author

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and one of the world's foremost experts on college admissions. For nearly years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into top programs like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT using his exclusive approach.


What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

Stanford University

Your chancing factors


common application essay examples stanford

3 Stellar Stanford Essay Examples

Stanford is one of the most selective colleges in the nation, with an acceptance rate typically under 5%. If you want to snag a spot at this renowned university in sunny California, you’ll need to write standout essays.

Stanford is known for it’s short and whimsical prompts that give students a lot of freedom to let their creativity shine through. In this post, we will be going over three essays real students have submitted to Stanford to give you an idea of how to approach your essays. We will also share what each essay did well and where there is room for improvement.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our Stanford essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 

Essay Example #1

Prompt: 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—get to know you better. (100-250 words)

Hey roomie!

I’m so excited to meet you and share our first year at Stanford, but I should probably warn you. By the end of fall quarter, I guarantee that you will be sick of hearing me ask, “Do you want to be in my one second?”

For the past couple of years, recording a one-second video every day has been my way of finding excitement in even the most boring days. I promise that while we’re roommates, my one-second clips will make every day an adventure.

Some of my personal favorites:

  • Ice skating in Millennium Park in Chicago
  • Watching Netflix with my 3 sisters (usually Jane the Virgin)
  • Baking a cake in physics class
  • Petting my 17-pound rabbit, or my 2-pound rabbit
  • Family karaoke night featuring the High School Musical soundtrack and my terrible singing 
  • Playing in Pep Band at basketball games with my best friends
  • Winning Mario Kart (I am a self-proclaimed professional)
  • Playing with a friend’s new puppy
  • Selfies with my Target coworkers after handling an army of coupon moms

I’m excited to capture our first year together at Stanford, from Big Game to our first ski trip. Even on days where studying in our dorm seems like the highlight, I’ll suggest a spontaneous ice cream run so we’re not THAT lame.

So when I inevitably ask you to be in my one second, I promise that it’ll be worth it (and you can’t say I didn’t warn you).


Your soon-to-be bestie/adventure buddy/one-second-a-day-video-taking roommate

What the Essay Did Well

This is such a fun essay to read because it shows us who this student is outside of her academics and extracurriculars. There isn’t a single mention of her academic interests or the clubs and organizations she is in—ironically, that’s the strength of the essay! By focusing her essay around her one second a day video, it allows her to demonstrate to the reader her most natural self. Outside the confines of a classroom or pursuing extracurricular achievement, these are the things that bring her joy and make her interesting; conveying that idea is the exact point of Stanford asking this question.

Bulleting her most memorable one second videos is a great way to share a wide variety of stories without making the essay too dense. They are quick thoughts—not even fully formed sentences—but they all start with a verb to bring a sense of action to the essay. Not to mention, she was able to work in a good amount of humor. Including her “terrible singing ” at karaoke night, being a “ self-proclaimed professional ” at Mario Kart, and the “ army of coupon moms ” at her job isn’t necessary for each story, but adding it in gives admissions officers an extra little chuckle.

No space is wasted in this essay, even down to the sign-off. She could have ended by saying “ Sincerely, Sara “, but instead, she added an extra line to excitedly describe herself as “ Your soon-to-be bestie/adventure buddy/one-second-a-day-video-taking roommate.”  As if we didn’t get enough of a taste of her personality throughout, this student closes with a run-on thought that conveys her child-like enthusiasm at going to Stanford and meeting her roommate. 

What Could Be Improved

Overall, this is a really strong essay. That being said, there are a few sentences that could be reworked to be a bit more fun and align better with the rest of the essay.

For example, the starting off with an admission that her roommate might get sick of hearing about her one second videos is cute, but it could be made stronger by really leaning into it. “ Hi roomie! Here’s to hoping you aren’t ready to throw my phone out the third-floor window of Branner by finals!”  With this opening, we are immediately asking ourselves what could this student possibly be doing with her phone that would cause her roommate to chuck it out a window. It builds suspense and also adds humor. Not to mention, she would be including a dorm on campus to show she has thoroughly research life at Stanford.

Another sentence that could use some extra TLC is “ I promise that while we’re roommates, my one-second clips will make every day an adventure.”  Again, a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t stimulate the reader’s mind in the same way an example would. She goes into some of the one seconds they will capture at Stanford later on, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another example here. She could write something like this: “ With me everyday will be an adventure; I’ll have the clip of you trying scrambled eggs and strawberries at the dining hall for proof (trust me, it’s how they were meant to be eaten). “

Essay Example #2

Dear stranger (but hopefully future roomie),

Are you looking for someone that:

S ees you only at night when they are going to sleep?

T hrives being taciturn?

U nnerves you on the eve of your exams?

D oesn’t tell Moroccan fairy tales each night?

Y owls while sleeping?

A bhors lending you their clothes?

N ever nibbles on snacks and won’t bring you Moroccan cookies?

D oesn’t ask you to go for a walk on campus?

F idgets when you need help?

U proots a spider they cross without asking you for help?

N ot ready to sing with you if you play Beyonce’s songs?

Don’t fret if you said no to all of the above. That just means we are the perfect match because I am the opposite of everything I described above! It would be my great pleasure to introduce you to the person with whom you will not just share a room, but also have unforgettable moments. Be ready to spend nights laughing–it is not my fault if I keep you up all night with my jokes. Words cannot express how excited I am to find out what makes you, you! I’ve cleverly hidden our theme within my note. In case you didn’t notice, reread the first letter of each line.

P.S: It may be difficult for you to say the “kh” in my name, especially if you don’t speak Arabic or Spanish. So feel free to call me Yara.

This is a charming way to introduce yourself to a future roommate. Not only did they spell out all the ways they will be a loyal and dependable roommate, but they literally spelled out a secret message! Accomplishing this shows this student took extra time and care into crafting statements to add an extra layer of creativity.

This student also imbued aspects of their personality in these statements—once you flip it around. We see how important their Moroccan heritage is, as they look forward to sharing “ Moroccan fairytales each night ” and “ Moroccan cookies ” with their roommate. We see how caring they are when it comes to  “lending you clothes”  and not fidgeting “ when you need help. ” They also include some humor in some lines: “Yowls while sleeping.” Each sentence helps piece together different aspects of this student’s personality to help us put together a full picture.

Although the idea of presenting a bunch of contradictory statements puts a nice spin on the structure, be cautious about going this route if it gets too confusing for your reader. Certain lines create double negatives—” doesn’t tell Moroccan fairytales ,” “ never nibbles on snacks ,” “ not ready to sing with you “—that take the reader an extra second to wrap their head around what the student is actually trying to say. Admissions officers spend a very limited amount of time on each essay, so you don’t want to include any language that requires additional brain power to digest.

This essay is also missing the closing to the letter. The author includes “ Dear stranger ” and “ P.S. “, indicating they are writing the essay in the format of a letter. Their letter requires a closing statement and a sign-off of their name. Without them signing their name at the end of the essay, the P.S. they include doesn’t make as much sense. If the reader doesn’t know what their name is, how would they understand their nickname? 

Essay Example #3

Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100-250 words)

I am an avid anti-annotationist; the mere idea of tainting the crisp white pages of any novel with dark imprints of my own thoughts is simply repulsive. However, I have one exception — my copy of George Orwell’s 1984, weathered and annotated in two languages. While victimized by uneven handwriting eating away at the margins, it is the only novel I still hold beloved despite its flaws. 

Two years before reading 1984, I was indulging in the novels of Dr. Seuss, not because of my preferences, but because my reading level was deemed an “A” — the reading level of a toddler. I was certainly anything but that; I was a fresh-off-the-plane immigrant and rising middle schooler who could barely name colors in English. 

After reading the likes of A Very Hungry Caterpillar like a madman, my next step was purchasing more advanced books in both English and Korean, so I could understand the nuance and missing details of novels after I initially read them in English. This crutch worked perfectly until George Orwell’s 1984 — the first novel I purchased and read without the training wheels of a translated copy. It took me weeks to finish the book; it was painfully slow, like a snail inching toward an arbitrary finish line. 

I read the novel twenty-seven times, each reading becoming faster and revealing more information. When I look at my copy of 1984, I still cringe at its weathered and tainted pages, but I can’t help admiring that initial portal between two literary worlds. 

This is undoubtedly an excellent writer who produced an exceptionally strong essay. Right from describing themself as an “ avid anti-annotationist, ” we can tell this is going to be different than you typical essay. While many students will choose something related to their academic or extracurricular passion, this essay choose a specific book. Although 1984 is so much more to them than simply a novel, as they reveal through the essay, the focus on an individual object as something meaningful is such a powerful image.

This student does a beautiful job conveying their journey through the symbol of 1984. They measure time using the book (“ Two years before reading 1984 “), and use well-known children’s novels like A Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Seuss to convey just how far they came without explicitly needing to describe how behind they were. Describing reading 1984 without a translated copy as ditching “training wheels” further emphasizes their growth.

The meaningfulness of 1984 is reinforced through the focus on its “ weathered and tainted pages .” Admitting to the reader at the beginning that they hate marking up books, yet their favorite book is annotated from cover to cover, highlights how 1984 is so much more than a book to them. It is a symbol of their resilience, of their growth, and of a pivotal turning point in their lives. Although the student doesn’t say any of this in their essay, their skilled writing reveals all of it to the reader.

One of Stanford’s deepest values is intellectual vitality (in fact, there’s a whole separate prompt dedicated to the topic!). This student demonstrates this value through establishing a willingness to learn and a love of cross-cultural literature.  All the while, this student is authentic. There’s little posturing here intended to impress the admissions officers with the student’s resilience and deep love for the written word; instead, he is genuine in sharing a small but authentic part of his life.

This essay has very little that needs to be improved on, but there is one crucial question that would have been nice to have answered: why 1984? Out of all the books in the world, why was this the one this student decided to commit to as the first all-English novel? Was it just by chance, did a teacher encourage them to pick it up, or did the premise of the book speak to them? Whatever the reason, it would have been nice to know to further understand its significance.

Where to Get Your Stanford Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your Stanford essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

common application essay examples stanford

College Application Essays and Admissions Consulting

Stanford College Application Essay Example

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Jan 6, 2023 | Common Application Essay Examples , Common Application Essay Guide

common application essay examples stanford

Attend FREE, LIVE elite college admissions lightning talks!

Graduation year 2024 2025 2026 2027

Parent or student Parent Student

You have successfully subscribed, thank you!

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

UC Admissions

  • [2023 Updated] UC Personal Insight Essay Examples
  • UC Personal Insight Essay Ultimate Guide
  • UC Essay Tips

Follow Our Awesome Posts!

You have successfully subscribed.


  1. Shocking Stanford Essays That Worked ~ Thatsnotus

    common application essay examples stanford

  2. 005 Accepted Stanford Application Essay Custom Paper Help Pin

    common application essay examples stanford

  3. Shocking Stanford Essays ~ Thatsnotus

    common application essay examples stanford

  4. 008 Common Application Essays New Transfer Sample College For Students

    common application essay examples stanford

  5. Application essay for stanford university

    common application essay examples stanford

  6. 003 Sample Stanford Gsb Essays Mba Essay Accepted By Harvard Cv

    common application essay examples stanford


  1. You're giving colleges red flags! 🚩🚩#shorts

  2. CommonApp Personal Essay Mistakes

  3. Please Don't Write Your College Essays Like This

  4. Common App Essay Hack! #shorts #college #commonapp

  5. Worst Essay Topics for College Applications

  6. 3 Steps to Your College Essay


  1. 10 Great Essay Writing Tips

    Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses.

  2. 10 Tips for Scholarship Applications

    Before you even bother applying for a particular scholarship, make sure you fit all of the requirements for it, not just half or nine out of 10. It doesn’t matter how impressive your essay or your background is, you’ll most likely be disqua...

  3. How Did Leland Stanford Donate His Money?

    After the death of his son, Leland Stanford set up all of his money to go to the Stanford University, which he helped create, to the miners of California and the railroad. The school that Leland and his wife built in memory of their son, wh...

  4. 12 Best Stanford Supplemental Essays That Worked 2023

    [Date]: Studying at Stanford High School Summer College, building a family in two months. (38/50 words)

  5. Top 51 Successful Stanford Essays

    These are successful college essays of students that were accepted to Stanford University. Use them to see what it takes to get into Stanford and other top

  6. Stanford Essays Examples

    Stanford Essays Examples: “Indefinita eres.” Latin for “you are limitless.” I believe that we are all limitless. That with passion, hard work

  7. Stanford Supplemental Essay Examples for 2023

    Even if you are not planning on attending Stanford University, you will find that reviewing different college essays will help you learn how to

  8. 00 Common App and Stanford

    The following are my responses to the main Common App essay and the Stanford application questions. You're welcome to read them to try and understand how I

  9. Application and Essays

    The Common Application includes essay prompts for your personal essay. In addition to the personal essay, we also require the Stanford

  10. The Essays that got me into Stanford University (+ advice)

    College essays are a pain in the ass. There's no way of summing yourself up perfectly. Admissions people probably won't see you as a good match

  11. How to Get Into Stanford Undergrad: Essays and Strategies That

    Part 4: 2022–2023 Stanford supplemental essays (examples included) ... Stanford accepts the Common Application and the Coalition application

  12. 3 Stellar Stanford Essay Examples

    Essay Example #1 · Ice skating in Millennium Park in Chicago · Watching Netflix with my 3 sisters (usually Jane the Virgin) · Baking a cake in

  13. Stanford College Application Essay Example

    Columbia College Application essay example, UPenn College Essay Example, Harvard College Essay Example, College College Essay Examples.

  14. Top 41 Stanford Admissions Essays

    I tend to greet others with a “good morning” simply because I love mornings.