First off, the most important advice I can give to a prospective applicant:
I know it seems like common sense, but my mom literally had to force me to apply. Why? Not because I didn’t want to go to Stanford, but much to the contrary… I thought there was no friggen way I’d get in, so I figured I’d save the $90 from the application fee and put it toward boots or something to keep me warm during east coast winters. I was a regular decision applicant, and didn’t apply early anywhere, so by the time I was about to apply, I had heard of a kid from our rival HS with a 2400 SAT score, who was also an Eagle Scout, that had gotten rejected from Stanford. I took that as a sign that I could never get in, but evidently I was wrong. Very wrong, about a lot of things. So I’m going to outline these ever so quickly for you:
1. You don’t need to have straight A’s.
-I hadn’t had the darn things since sophomore year!
2. You don’t need to have a perfect SAT score.
-I didn’t even take the SAT, I took the ACT, once, and didn’t feel the need to keep taking it over and over again in pursuit of the perfect score. If you feel you can do better, by all means try, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that the tenth time’s the charm. Your best is your best, and too many attempts reflect poorly on you. Do some practice tests, get comfortable, perform, then go back to focusing on other important things, because you really are evaluated as more than just a test score.
3. You don’t need to be the president of every club, nor do you need to be rebuilding entire cities in China.
-I was a four sport athlete throughout high school, which obviously didn’t lend itself to too much spare time for volunteering or being in every club that interested me. I was active in a few clubs, two of which were culturally based and one of which was a freshman mentoring program, which worked for me because that’s what really matters to me. I volunteered at some sports camps, which also shows consistency because of my whole sports thing. (I will not be playing varsity at Stanford because of a nice collection of injuries, but will probably play club in case you’re wondering.)
What I’ve noticed about not just Stanford, but also about top universities in general, is that they’re not looking for the perfect applicant. As an applicant, you’re in a bit of a static state. They care about achievements throughout high school, but that’s just some of it. What they really want to know is that the “applicant you” will evolve into the “do-er you.” They want to know that you’re passionate about something, and that this passion moves you. They want people who are catalysts for change, whether it be global or within a specific field. Let’s be honest, you don’t apply to Stanford unless you’re qualified, one way or another, so there’s no doubt that most of the applicants can handle the coursework and get the degree. They care about what you’ll do with it.
As far as my test scores and other quantitative data (which people like to ask me about all the time, ugh), I don’t particularly feel like looking it up, here’s what I remember:
33 on the ACT; 780 on the Lit SAT-II, 790 on Spanish SAT-II (native speaker), 640 or so on Math 2 SAT-II (I’m terrible at math), 670 or something on the Bio SAT-II (not too shabby for taking it three years after having Bio haha); top 10 all four years at a medium-sized public high school in Southern California (senior class was 700-something); 5 on AP Spanish Lang, 4 on AP US Hist; awaiting scores for AP Spanish Lit and AP Calc AB. I’m a year ahead in school, I skipped second grade, so I graduated at 16 and will be starting at Stanford a couple weeks after my 17th birthday. That’s kinda different, so I figured I’d throw it out there. Also, if I do say so myself, I poured out some pretty great essays, and I think that’s what tipped the scales in my favor when I can seem so underqualified next to my classmates… it’s hard not to sound smart when you’re writing about your interest in practical applications of Machiavellian principles 😛
Academic Plans at Stanford:
I’ll be majoring in Communication (focusing on mass/bilingual media, PR, and perhaps human-technology interaction in relation to things like autonomous driving and smart rooms) and minoring in Modern Languages (a minor which is basically a minor in two or more foreign languages; I’ll be continuing Spanish and starting Portuguese and Italian, maybe French too don’t know yet) with a double minor in some sort of Bioethics thing if I figure out how to do that (a concentration in the Ethics in Society minor, or trying to construct my own minor, we’ll see). I also plan on coterm-ing with Comm, so I’ll spend a fifth year at Stanford and come out with a Master’s.
I hate making decisions, so I applied regular decision to 13 schools (lucky 13!) and was only rejected by Harvard. I was likelied by (received a likely letter from) the University of Pennsylvania, so I was probably going to go there because of its Ivy status and kickass Comm department, but as soon as I got my Stanford decision, I knew that was where I was going to go. The people are amazing (it takes a special group of people not to kick me upside the head when I ask the FB group what our official mascot is; turns out it’s Cardinal THE COLOR NOT THE BIRD and the Tree is actually the BAND’S mascot), and I can’t wait to move in!
SORRY I WROTE SO MUCH. and sorry my little bulleted paragraphs aren’t aligned how they should be, it’s bothering me but I don’t know how to fix it!