How To Get Into Stanford: The Definitive Guide

stanford mug
September 8, 2022
About StanfordStanford RequirementsStanford Acceptance Rate & Yield RateHow Hard is it to Get into Stanford?Tips to Get into StanfordStanford Class ProfileStanford EssaysHow to Prepare for the Stanford InterviewHow to Apply to StanfordShould I Apply to Stanford?


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Thinking about applying to Stanford? Let’s explore everything you need to know to get into Stanford University.

Stanford University is one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions, located in Stanford, California. Occupying over 8,000 acres, Stanford is one of the largest campuses in the United States. The university was founded in 1891 by Leland and Jane Stanford in Memoriam of their child, Leland Stanford Jr.

In the past century, the university has grown and flourished into seven successful schools. Three of these schools consist of 40 academic departments at undergraduate levels. The other four schools are centered around graduate programs regarding law, education, business, and medicine.

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About Stanford

With more than 15,000 students and almost 2,300 faculty members, Stanford is “a place for learning, discovery, innovation, expression, and discourse.” Stanford University—originally, and still legally, Leland Stanford Junior University—officially opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1891. 

Its founders, Leland and Jane Stanford, built the university as a memorial for their late son. They invested a large fortune into the 8,180-acre Palo Alto stock farm, located in the traditional territory of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, that would later be Stanford University’s bustling campus. 

Leland and Jane Stanford were heavily involved with what they wanted the university to stand for and offer to its students. It was their goal for the university “to be nonsectarian, co-educational and affordable, to produce cultured and useful graduates, and to teach both the traditional liberal arts and the technology and engineering that were already changing America.” The Stanfords valued education, as well as it being available to those from all walks of life. 

Stanford has always valued education based on experience and observation. Generous funding has immensely and continuously helped students with their financial needs during their time at Stanford. 

In 2015, 85% of students were eligible to receive a form of financial assistance. Most Stanford undergraduate students were able to graduate completely debt-free, at 78%. Every year, over 1,000 undergraduate students plan and strategize faculty-directed research and honors projects.

Over 1,000 students also participate in various public service projects or study abroad during their time at Stanford. Stanford values giving its students a robust, well-rounded experience while at their university. 

In the last 130 years, Stanford University has evolved to be a flourishing and prosperous institution. Stanford now stands with seven schools and 18 interdisciplinary institutes, with more than 16,000 students, 2,100 faculty members, and 1,800 postdoctoral scholars. 

Since the university is an international institution, enrolling students from all 50 states and over 91 other countries across the globe. Athletics are also a popular extracurricular at Stanford. The institution holds over 900 student-athletes and has a history of 128 national titles. 

Former President Barack Obama even commended Stanford University at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, declaring the university as “a place that celebrates our ability as human beings to discover and learn and to build, to question, to reimagine, to create new ways to connect and work with each other.” 

Stanford Requirements

If you are thinking about applying to Stanford University, there are many factors to consider about their application process. By paying close attention to what Stanford admissions officers focus on during the admissions process, you can set yourself up for success and increase your chance of acceptance.  

Stanford practices a completely holistic admissions process. This means that each part of the application is “part of an integrated and comprehensive whole.” This means that there is no one determining factor that dictates your admission and that Stanford looks for well-rounded candidates. 

Although academics are an integral part of your application, applicants are not granted admission solely based on their ACT and SAT scores or their GPA. Each part of the application tells admissions officers something different. 

Your application will help them learn about your background and life experiences that have shaped you into who you are. From another perspective, they learn about your intellectual and academic achievements and contributions. 

From your essays, the admissions committee learns about your interests, ideas, and what makes you you. Stanford strongly values a diverse class: students with various backgrounds, experiences, talents, ideas, world views, and interests are welcomed. 

By taking a holistic approach to the admissions process, Stanford can wholly understand the potential these candidates hold; they can understand applicants as whole people and how they would contribute to their institution. 

Academic excellence is a significant criterion for admission to Stanford. Admissions officers look for students with the potential to succeed in their institution. The admissions committee might assume that students that have challenged themselves throughout high school are more likely to challenge themselves in their undergraduate careers. 

This is why a rich high school transcript is a strong application component for Stanford’s admissions officers to evaluate. It is crucial for candidates to think about their college applications and trajectories while still in high school, and to perform their best academically. Taking advantage of all the resources and opportunities offered to high school students is vital because it sets students up for success when it is time to begin filling out college applications. 

Stanford also greatly values students’ commitment and interest in expanding their intellectual and social horizons. Extracurricular activities and non-academic interests help admissions officers analyze how potential students may contribute to the Stanford community. 

This does not mean that students must be involved in many activities; if you are heavily involved in one or two commitments that you are passionate about, this is worth more to admissions officers than if you are minimally involved in a wide variety of clubs or activities. 

Having a job or a family responsibility is just as important of an extracurricular activity as being a part of any school club. Stanford values viewing potential students’ impacts in any capacity that they may be present. 

Stanford offers many ways for students to get involved on campus as well. If there is something you are passionate about that you participated in during your high school career, there may be ways for students to continue their involvement. Stanford has an office of student engagement that helps students get involved in all sorts of student organizations at the university. 

Test Scores And GPA

Academic excellence is the crucial factor for admission to Stanford. The institution values students’ college preparation and their potential to succeed as a Stanford student. 

Since Stanford utilizes a holistic approach to reviewing applications, there is no minimum GPA or test score needed to be granted admission. There is also no specific number of AP or honors courses required to be admitted to Stanford. 

This, however, does not mean that your grades and test scores are not important. Through your high school transcript, Stanford can evaluate students’ academic records and assess your college readiness.


In Stanford’s recent admissions statistics overview, the school released data regarding enrolled students’ middle 50% SAT test scores. In the SAT Math section, students scored on average between 720-800.

In the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, students scored on average between 700-770. There are admissions statistics overviews available for the previous ten years that are also available for review on Stanford’s website.

Graph outlining SAT Scores


In addition, enrolled students’ middle 50% ACT scores were also reviewed. For the ACT Composite, students received an average score of 31-35. 

act score

Academic Preparation

A high school diploma or equivalent is required in order to be enrolled at Stanford. Although Stanford does not follow any numerical formula in the admissions process, a solid high school transcript can tell admissions officers a lot about who you are as a student, peer, intellect, and individual. 

Stanford does not have a required curriculum or set of courses to be granted admission. However, they do have a recommended high school curriculum. The purpose of this recommendation is to set potential students up for success at Stanford. 

The university believes that students who excel in a curriculum such as this would be well-suited for Stanford’s rigorous undergraduate curriculum. This is Stanford’s recommended high school curriculum:

Stanford Acceptance Rate

Stanford is a prestigious and world-renowned institution, offering quality education for over 100 years. Due to this, prospective students must have a well-rounded application that showcases their personality, intellectual abilities, and potential to contribute to the school and community in order to be accepted.

According to Stanford’s recent class overview, a total of 45,227 prospective students applied to attend Stanford. A total of 2,349 of these students were admitted to Stanford. This brings Stanford’s acceptance rate to 5%. This is higher than the acceptance rate for the Class of 2025, which was 3.95%.

Stanford Yield Rate

Stanford University is one of the national universities where most accepted students enroll. One of Stanford’s recent classes consisted of 2,062 accepted students. Of those 2,062 students, 1,701 students chose to enroll at Stanford. 

This brings Stanford’s yield rate to 82%, making them one of the universities with the highest yield rate. The only other university with a yield rate this high is Harvard University, with a yield rate of 82%. The current yield rate has dropped to 68%.

How Hard is it to Get into Stanford?

Stanford University is a world-renowned institution, and its relatively low acceptance rate of 5.2% reflects that. This makes Stanford the most selective university in the United States, even above all eight Ivy League institutions.

Although Stanford has a low acceptance rate, that does not mean it is impossible to be admitted to the institution. Stanford emphasizes academic preparation as a vital part of their selection process

This can be utilized as a guide for potential students looking to broaden their horizons and eventually be successful as Stanford University students. In order to start potential students on the right track for their future application process to Stanford, the institution recommends for all candidates to:

There are numerous resources, opportunities, and advantages offered to high school students depending on the school’s offerings. For example, there may be various counselors, tutors, clubs, athletics, organizations, and more. 

These are all opportunities for students to excel and thrive in different ways. Not only will seeking and taking opportunities look great on a Stanford undergraduate application, but it will help students grow during their time in high school and learn more about themselves. 

Stanford also stresses the importance of working hard and achieving at a high level in a full complement of academic subjects throughout your high school career. This is crucial, and even stressed, during your final year. 

Although some senior students may want to cruise through their remaining courses, those who are dreaming of Stanford should strive for the best grades they can achieve. Academics are a critical factor amid Stanford’s application process. Admissions officers need to see that you have excelled in a rigorous curriculum because it shows your potential to thrive in a college setting.

Consulting your secondary school counselor as early as possible is a great way to get started on your Stanford application. Working diligently with a secondary counselor can help students get on track to an enriching high school experience that will make for a great college application. 

While attending high school, potential students can set up a strong base for their application by keeping these recommendations in mind. If students excel in their studies and extracurriculars during their time in high school, it shows Stanford’s admissions officers that they could be well-suited for collegiate academic demands. It also shows potential for contribution to Stanford’s institution. 

Stanford also provides a recommended high school curriculum to potential students, as detailed above. Admissions officers prefer to see applications with challenging curriculums because it shows potential to succeed and thrive with Stanford’s rigorous programs.

However, a student’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn is just as important of a quality for them to possess. Stanford students who thrive are excited to learn, not necessarily those with the most AP, Honors, or Accelerated courses under their belts. 

Stanford wants students that are thoughtful, highly engaged, and likely to make an impact at their institution. This is why their admissions process is so selective. 

However, it is not impossible to gain admission into Stanford. As long as students are diligent in their studies and extracurriculars, make conscious efforts to utilize opportunities and resources offered to them during their time in high school, and work closely with school counselors, they are setting themselves up for a strong foundation to show on their application to Stanford University. 

Tips to Get into Stanford

Being granted admission to Stanford is no easy feat, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips that can help you to get accepted to Stanford. 

1. Find extracurriculars you are passionate about in high school.

Stanford is not just looking for students with 4.0 GPAs. While strong academics are an essential component of your application, Stanford admissions officers also want to see what you are like outside of school and as a person.

The admissions officers want to know how you have made an impact on your community and how you could potentially make an impact at their institution. 

Stanford also wants to see how you have grown as an individual as a result of your commitments. Whether it is a club, organization, sport, charity, family responsibility, or a job, if it has helped shape you as a person, it is a great way for admissions officers to learn about you outside of academics. This can help them gauge whether or not you would be a good fit at Stanford. 

Extracurricular activities can make a great talking point for admissions essays. If you were a part of a club, sport, organization, or anything of the like while in high school that helped shape your high school experience, writing about it in your admissions essay is an excellent way of telling admissions officers about your interests and special talents. 

This shows admissions officers what drives you and what you are good at, which may be passions you can continue with at Stanford. Highlighting aspects of your life and experiences that are important to who you are is vital in writing your admissions essays. 

2. Do your research and practice writing for your admissions essays.

Although academics are a large and vital part of Stanford’s selection process, this only tells admissions officers about how you perform academically. Your admissions essays are an incredible opportunity to show admissions officers who you are as a person: what drives you, what you are passionate about, what you would like to accomplish, and how you would contribute to Stanford’s institution and community. 

Word counts in these essays can be short and limiting, so it is important to write meaningfully and effectively. It is the perfect opportunity to show admissions officers why you should be admitted to Stanford. 

It is also important to note how significant strong grammar, punctuation, and word choice skills are in these essays. It takes one mistake to distract an admissions officer while reading an essay, which is not what you want when you have a limited space to get your points and ideas across effectively. 

3. Take advantage of the optional interview.

During the freshman application process, an optional interview may be offered to applicants if your high school is located in an interview area. If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by the phone number or email in which you provided on your application. 

The optional interview is an opportunity for applicants to have a conversation with a Stanford alumnus. It gives potential students the opportunity to learn more about Stanford and enables admissions officers to learn more about potential students. If you are not contacted for an interview, your application is, of course, still considered complete. 

Applicants will also not be penalized in any way if they refuse to participate in the optional interview. However, if offered a chance to attend this interview, it is an excellent way for potential students to learn and showcase why they would be a great addition to Stanford’s next incoming class outside of the initial application itself. 

4. Acquire your letters of recommendation early.

Think about the process of acquiring letters of recommendation as more than just acquiring them. Spend time and think about what teachers or faculty members had a significant impact on you in high school or those in which you have established a close relationship. 

Chances are, you are a student that stood out to them. Go about asking for letters of recommendation early, and explain to them what you are looking for in a letter. This will help your recommenders in writing the best possible recommendation for you, and can help you stand out from other applicants. 

If it is possible to find a Stanford alum to provide you with a letter of recommendation, this is an excellent addition to your application! You can also learn from this person. Ask as many questions as you can: about the application process, about what a typical student embodies, and about Stanford itself.

Stanford Class Profile

Stanford provides a snapshot of their admissions statistics of the last thirteen academic years on their website. The purpose of this archive is to give potential applicants an overview of Stanford classes that were chosen after a thoughtful, wholly holistic review. Potential applicants can review this information at any time. 

Stanford Demographics

Stanford University’s recent class consisted of 45,227 initial applicants. Of those candidates, 2,349 students were admitted, and 1,607 students were enrolled at the institution. 

The class profile of first-year students for Stanford’s recent class revealed how diverse the cohort is. All 50 US states are represented, as well as 56 other home countries. Of the total number of enrolled students, 9.9% of these students are international students, representing 53 countries. Additionally, 20.2% of all students are also first-generation college students. 

In terms of gender balance, the class is 52% female and 48% male. The majority of these students at 65%​​ came from public high schools, whereas 23% came from private institutions. Of all enrolling students, 12% are international students, and less than 1% of the class was homeschooled. 

The SAT Middle 50% test scores revealed that students in Stanford’s recent class scored between 720 and 800 on the SAT math section. The average score for the SAT evidence-based reading and writing was between 700 and 770. The ACT Middle 50% test scores showed that students in Stanford’s recent class scored between 31 and 35 on the ACT composite.

Stanford Student to Faculty Ratio

Stanford University has a student-faculty ratio of 5:1. Additionally, almost 70% of the classes offered consist of fewer than 20 students. This is great for students who wish to establish a close professional relationship with faculty. Compared to a lecture hall of hundreds of students, you have a much greater chance of forging meaningful relationships with your peers and professors in a smaller space. 

Approximately 20% of Stanford’s classes consist of 20-49 students, and around 10% of classes contain 50 or more students. The average freshman retention rate is a whopping 98%, which is an excellent indicator of student satisfaction. In addition to this, the four-year graduation rate is 73%. 

Stanford Essays

Essays are a vital part of any college application. Aside from transcripts, test scores, academic and extracurricular achievements, and personal information, this is your best chance to show admissions officers who you are and why you are a good fit in Stanford’s student community. 

Applicants are given free rein to discuss what drives them and what has shaped them into who they are. This is great insight for admissions officers, so this space should be taken seriously and reviewed carefully before submission. 

Stanford Essay Prompts 

With every Stanford University Regular Decision and Restrictive Early Action application, potential applicants are required to complete a personal essay and the Stanford questions

Applicants are asked to answer a series of short questions, with a limit of 50-word responses each. Then, students are asked to complete short essay questions. Applicants must adhere to a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay. Potential students must write a short essay on the following three topics:

If you are a potential student applying as a transfer, you will have a second prompt that is a part of the second essay question, and it is up to you which one you choose. The second prompt is as follows:

“Stanford’s community is an essential part of the undergraduate experience. We come from all walks of life, share our own traditions, take care of one another, and think of ourselves as family. How do you define family and what contributions have you made to yours?”

Each essay question is unique and designed to allow applicants to explain why they would be a good fit for Stanford, and what they could contribute to the Stanford community. It is extremely important for applicants to take the essay portions seriously and make sure they are communicating exactly what they want admissions officers to know when considering their applications. 

How to Write the Stanford Essays

Essays are arguably one of—if not the—most important aspects of Stanford’s application process. This is the only time that admissions officers get to hear your voice and get to know who you are. 

Your essays are where you can highlight your strengths, discuss your weaknesses, express your goals, share your passions, and consider your potential as a future Stanford undergraduate. 

This is the perfect opportunity to show admissions officers why you deserve to be a part of Stanford’s next incoming class. It is crucial that you prepare for these essays because they can make your application captivating and interesting. Consider the following while working on your Stanford application.

1. Practice, practice, practice.

As silly as it may sound to “practice” writing an essay, it is necessary during the application process. There is a strict word limit that must be followed for these essays: for the Stanford questions, no more than 50 words, and for the short essays, no less than 100 words but no more than 250 words.

This means that your writing will only be a couple of paragraphs per question. It is important to use this space wisely, so you can get the most out of it, and share as much as possible that you would like admissions officers to know. 

Practice answering the questions while also adhering to the word limits. Use tight, concise language to efficiently get your point across without wasting essay space on filler words or unnecessary phrasing. Answering the question to the best of your ability is what is most important. 

2. Make an outline for each question.

Typically, outlines are used to structure long papers. But it is just as important to structure these short essay questions. With an outline, you will map out your ideas and pinpoint what subjects you feel are most important and must be included in your short essay answer. 

You will also get a better idea of how each idea will fit seamlessly into your essay response. Having structure in your essays will also make it easier for admissions officers to follow and understand. If you are clear, concise, and direct about what you want to cover, your points and ideas will be easy to decipher and discuss.

Communicating your ideas, thoughts, and points effectively is your most important task while writing your essay responses. Creating an outline of all the points you are positive you want to implement into your essay is the best way to ensure you are communicating effectively. 

3. Take your time.

Even though your answers to these essay questions are required to be relatively short, that does not mean that they will not be effective. But your essays will only be effective if you take the time to think about what is most vital to show the admissions committee. 

Think long and hard about your answers, and what the admissions committee will take away from your answers. Make a list of the things you are sure you want to include in your essay responses. Ask yourself, “What are the most important things that Stanford admissions officers need to know about me?” 

Write them down, and make sure you have a seamless, cohesive way of putting these ideas into your essay responses. Creating an outline will help with this cohesion. 

If you are unsure if something should be included, ask your school counselor or an admissions consultant for their opinion. Seeking advice from your school counselor or admissions consultant is an excellent use of a great resource, as they help students with college applications every year. 

4. Proofread your essays.

It is in your best interest to have a second set of eyes proofread your essays prior to your final submission. Whether that be a counselor, teacher, or admissions consultant, it is always a good idea to get a different perspective from your own. 

This will help you get an idea of how admissions officers will perceive your answers. A second set of eyes may also notice a difficult-to-read sentence or a typo that you may have missed. Proofreading your essays also gives you the opportunity to strengthen, change, or reword your essay response. This will make for a more substantial essay all around. 

How to Prepare for the Stanford Interview

Amid the freshman application process, an optional interview invitation is offered to some—but not all—applicants. It is an opportunity for Regular Decision and Restrictive Early Action applicants to sit down with a Stanford alum and engage in a meaningful conversation. 

There are no set questions or requirements: it is an opportunity for a potential student to learn about Stanford and the interviewer to learn about potential students. This is an incredible opportunity for potential students to show Stanford their interpersonal skills and character, more so than just on their primary application.  

Interviews are assigned depending on interview areas. Applicants may not request an interview, as they are only invited. They will be contacted by phone or email, which they provide in their application. 

If you are a potential student and did not get contacted for an interview, do not panic! Your application is still considered complete, and you will not be negatively affected by not being offered an interview. Applicants will also not be penalized for declining an interview. There are not enough Stanford alumni in each interview area to interview all applicants. 

Declining an interview will not negatively affect your application status, and you do not have to provide any reasoning for declining. However, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Stanford and speak with Stanford alumni about how you would be a great addition to Stanford’s next incoming class.

It is also an excellent opportunity for students to ask someone who actually went to Stanford any questions they may have about the institution, the campus, the classes, the community, the lifestyle, and more. 

Interviews for Restrictive Early Action applicants are typically scheduled in the first weeks of November. Interviews for Regular Decision applicants are typically scheduled from January through February. It is essential to check your email diligently during these times as not to miss any information regarding being selected for the optional interview. 

The interview itself is not so much of an interview—Stanford views the opportunity as more like an informal conversation. Stanford stresses that no formal preparation is needed, as it is an opportunity for both parties to learn from the other. 

There is no set list of questions because of this, again to encourage an informal, unique conversation. However, it is crucial to consider any experiences, goals, or plans that you feel are important to share with your interviewer before your interview occurs.

Also, consider questions you would like to ask about Stanford, the Stanford experience, or anything else you want to learn about. This is a learning opportunity for both parties.

As this interview is meant to be informal, there is no formal dress code. Typical high school attire is welcomed. Resumes, test scores, transcripts, and your application are not to be discussed during your interview either, as it is meant to be a conversation with opportunities to learn. 

There are interview areas all across the globe. In the United States and US Territories, there are interview areas in the following regions:

In terms of international locations, there are interview areas in numerous regions across the globe. Since these areas are so spread out, if there is not an interview area in your specific location, it is possible to travel to a nearby interview location to participate in the optional interview if it is offered.

Although the optional interview is offered in an informal setting, that does not mean that applicants cannot prepare for this opportunity. It is essential to consider what else you would like Stanford to know that is not in your application or is only briefly mentioned.

Consider what is most important about you as a student or you as a person, or qualities you hold that would contribute to Stanford’s thriving community. These are great topics to bring up during your conversation with a Stanford alum. 

It is also vital to think of what questions you would like to ask during the interview. Sitting down with a Stanford alum in itself is an excellent opportunity to learn about what Stanford is all about and what experiencing the prestigious school firsthand is like. 

Think of your most pressing questions as a potential student at Stanford, and make sure you implement these questions into your conversation. Do your research and think critically about things you would not normally find in a simple Google search or on Stanford’s website. As this is an opportunity for both parties to learn, asking questions is a great way to begin. 

How to Apply to Stanford

Before applying to Stanford, potential students must be aware of the freshman application requirements. This is your starting point for the application process. On Stanford’s website, all requirements are detailed in the format of a checklist.

As you prepare for and complete these requirements, check them off as you go—as shown on Stanford’s website—and make sure you are not missing anything before moving on to submit your application. This is a great way to stay on task and make sure you are including everything necessary to your application. 

First and foremost, you must decide whether you are completing a Coalition Application or a Common Application. A Coalition Application allows potential students to begin exploring colleges and compile personal and school-related achievements as early as their freshman year of high school. This helps students stay on track for college applications throughout their entire high school careers. 

The Common Application is more direct, and it helps potential students navigate their entire college application journey in one place. Both applications are great options: there is no right or wrong choice! It is all about what is the best fit for you. If you are worried or confused about which application is proper for you, consult with a school counselor to help get you on the right path to applying. 

There is a $90 nonrefundable application fee that must be submitted to apply. Potential students are also welcome to fill out a fee waiver request if they are deemed fit. 

Next, ACT and SAT scores must be submitted with your application for review, along with a school report and official transcripts. This can typically be done through your high school. 

If you are looking for help, consulting with your school counselor is a great option to keep you on track in the application process. Counselor letters of recommendation are also included in this, and letters of recommendation from two teachers. A midyear transcript is also required to be submitted by Feb. 15. 

Potential students may also submit an optional arts portfolio to highlight any extraordinary talents regarding the arts. This, however, must be submitted by an earlier deadline.

Stanford Application Process and Deadlines

After reviewing the freshman application requirements checklist and making a note of everything that must be completed, it is important to note deadlines for each part of your application. Deadlines will be different for Restrictive Early Action applications and Regular Decision applications. 

Transfer applicants also follow different deadlines. This is why it is important to know what kind of application you are submitting, so you are sure that you are adhering to the correct deadlines regarding your application. 

If you are submitting a Restrictive Early Action application, your standard application deadline is Nov. 1. If you are submitting your application with an arts portfolio, your deadline is Oct. 15. 

The last acceptable SAT date will be in the month of October. The last acceptable ACT date will be in the month of September. All applicants will receive notification of missing documents by mid-November. A decision will be released by Dec. 15, and the deadline to make an admissions decision is May 1.

If you are submitting a Regular Decision Application, your standard application deadline is Jan. 5. If you are submitting your application with an arts portfolio, your deadline is Dec. 5. 

The last acceptable SAT and ACT date will be in the month of December. All applicants will receive notification of missing documents by mid-February. A decision will be released by April 1, and you must make your decision to enroll by May 1. 

If you are a transfer applicant, your application—with or without the optional arts portfolio—deadline is March 15. The last acceptable SAT date will be in the month of December. The last acceptable ACT date will be in the month of February. All applicants will receive notification of missing documents by April. A decision will be released by May 15, and the deadline to reply to the offer of admission is June 1. 

Once you are sure of what application you are submitting, note these deadlines and set reminders for yourself when these deadlines are approaching. It is vital to be on top of what exactly needs to be submitted and when exactly it needs to be submitted. 

Should I Apply to Stanford? 

If you have an unabridged passion for learning and expanding your intellectual horizons, you could be a great candidate for applying to Stanford. Stanford values a passion for learning in its potential students. 

This is why Stanford’s Admission Office utilizes a fully holistic approach when reviewing potential students’ applications. Although academic success is a large criterion in the application process, Stanford values students with a passion for learning and those who will significantly impact Stanford’s campus and community. 

Stanford, California has much to offer in its unique area and state full of sunshine. Downtown Palo Alto is just mere minutes from Stanford’s campus, and it is a truly enriching place to visit. It is known for its plethora of luscious trees, popular restaurants, and interesting shops. Palo Alto is described as a place for people of all ages, so it is a great place to explore with family and friends alike. There are many campus and local attractions for students to visit and enjoy while attending Stanford. 


1. What does Stanford look for in applicants?

Stanford looks for innovative students with an acute passion and eagerness to learn. They want students that have the potential to contribute to their prestigious school and positively affect their culture. 

Many notable people have come from Stanford, which is a tradition the institution would like to continue. Some of these notable alumni are Reese Witherspoon, Tiger Woods, and 31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover. If you have consistently succeeded academically, and are eager to learn and make changes in your community, you could be a great candidate for Stanford’s next incoming class. 

2. Does Stanford accept transfer credit?

Yes, Stanford accepts transfer credit. Potential students simply must be aware of what Stanford does and does not accept in transfer credits. Stanford recognizes that many transfer applicants have taken a unique path to their undergraduate academics, and therefore have created eligibility guidelines for transfer credits. These guidelines can be viewed on Stanford’s website. 

3. Is Stanford an Ivy League School?

Stanford is not one of the eight Ivy League Schools (Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University); however, it is just as great of a school. It has an acceptance rate of 5.2%, making it the most selective university in the country.

4. Can I get into Stanford with a 3.5 GPA?

Stanford University utilizes a holistic approach when reviewing applications: they review applications as a whole. There is no numerical formula they follow in regards to GPAs or test scores. 

Still, academic success is a significant criterion in the application selection process. Applicants should have a thorough, rigorous high school transcript that shows that they have been successful. 

5. How do you stand out in the Stanford application process?

The best way to stand out in the Stanford application process is to utilize the essay portions to the best of your ability. This is your chance to speak to admissions officers and humanize your application: what has shaped you, how you have grown as a person, and why you deserve to be a student at Stanford. 

This is the perfect opportunity to show Stanford how you would contribute to their institution in your own voice. This is the most personal part of the application and possibly the only opportunity for admissions officers to assess your character as a potential student, so it is vital for applicants to take advantage of this space. 

6. When should you prepare for Stanford?

As early as possible! If you are serious about attending Stanford, it is vital to invest time and effort during your high school career to reflect that. Invest in a rigorous, challenging curriculum, and make time for meaningful extracurriculars. 

Consider a Coalition Application so you can prepare for applying to Stanford as early as ninth grade. Working with a secondary counselor at your high school and utilizing your school’s resources is a great way to prepare for applications.

7. What should you do if you get rejected from Stanford?

Stanford is an excellent school. As stated above, however, it is one of the most selective schools in the country, so it is important to be prepared for this. If you are rejected from Stanford, this is not the end of your journey. 

It is possible to review your application to see what you can do differently if you choose to reapply. If you are applying to a prestigious school such as Stanford, chances are many other prestigious schools would accept your impressive credentials.

Applicants may also consider taking a gap year before applying to reassess what parts of the application need revision and pursue things that will strengthen the application. 

8. How can I get into Stanford for an MBA?

Being granted admission to Stanford is no easy feat, no matter what program you are applying for. But it is not impossible! If you are looking to expand your knowledge and career path in business, the Stanford Graduate School of Business could be a great option for you. It is all about your experience, dedication, credentials, and most importantly: your willingness to learn. 

Final Thoughts

Stanford University is an incredible school that constantly looks for students with innovation, passion, and drive. Although they are quite selective in their admissions process, it is not impossible to gain admission to the institution! 

All it takes is hard work, dedication, and good use of your resources. Utilize all the help you can get while you are still in high school. Dedicate yourself to excelling in your studies as well as your extracurriculars. Practice your essay writing skills so when the time comes to apply, you know how to accurately convey your thoughts, points, and ideas concisely.

Do everything in your power to show Stanford that you deserve a spot at their institution. Show admissions officers the potential you hold and what you can offer to impact their institution positively. College applications are all about showing and telling: it is okay to brag about yourself!

Demonstrate your achievements and show Stanford all you have accomplished. By doing this, you are also showing Stanford what you can offer to their community in California. 

Applying to a prestigious school with a low acceptance rate such as Stanford University, is nothing short of nerve-wracking—especially since it is a defining moment in any potential student’s academic career. 

Although it can be a complicated process, that does not mean that it cannot be done. If you are dedicated to putting in the hard work to gain experience and academic success, as well as tailoring your application to perfection over time, you are on your way to being a great candidate for Stanford’s next incoming class. 

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