How I Came to Stanford (Alex Edition!)

Hey guys! I’m another of Amelia’s recruited bloggers, so I thought I’d introduce myself and give you a little information about myself as a newly admitted tree (that’s the unofficialmascot, by the way)!
Alrighty then. For starters, my name is Alex. I’m a girl. Just thought I’d point that out since I’ve had people mistake me for being a guy and then the first meeting with this person gets really awkward and stuff. I’m from a fairly large public school in southern California. I enjoy playing my marimba, making films, playing tennis, watching sports, traveling, staring at maps, and hanging out with my friends.
Regarding my future academic adventure at Stanford, I’m planning to major in Civil Engineering and possibly doing a double major with Architectural Design (that’s Andrew Luck’s major, in case you were wondering). From there, I’d like to earn two masters degrees and maybe even a doctorate: one in Civil Engineering and one in Architecture, with the doctorate in engineering. After that, I hope to be a sustainable architect – designing buildings that are both environmentally and aesthetically friendly.
For the entire month of April after receiving my acceptance letter to Stanford, I was in a state of pure joy. I thought I had no shot in hell of getting in. I’m sure a lot of kids feel that way, but I felt like there were many way more deserving kids at my school that would get in over me. My school has 40-something valedictorians in our class of 600. I was not one of them. My school uses the decile system of ranking since we are so damn competitive. I wasn’t in the top 10% of my graduating class. From a numbers perspective, here’s my application:
ACT: 33
SAT-II: Math II – 700, Chemistry – 720, US History – 800
GPA: 4.3373/5.0000 (we use the weighted scale)
AP Tests: AP European History – 4, AP US History – 5, AP Environmental Science – 5, AP English Language – 4, AP Physics C: Mechanics – 3, AP Chinese Language, AP Physics B, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature, AP Calculus AB,
AP Government & Politics (scores have not come in yet)
Those numbers in reflection aren’t that bad. However, Stanford doesn’t take 40 kids from one high school (unless you’re from Harvard-Westlake or Exeter or some other ridiculously amazing private school). Most schools if they’re lucky can send two kids each year to Stanford. I was sure I wouldn’t be one of them.

However, here’s what I believe got me in: my extracurricular activities and work experience. Do not underestimate what one summer can do for your college application. I had the opportunity to work on a nuclear fusion reactor in China called EAST: the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak. Basically, this fusion reactor is one of many reactors around the world the will hopefully help solve the modern energy crisis. I spent 6 weeks during one summer working on this reactor. I’m not anything close to an admissions officer, but doing something that makes you look different from thousands of other applicants is a great thing. After working in China, I was then able to give a talk at our local TEDx conference about nuclear fusion energy. Another thing that makes an applicant an admit: passion. I think having a passion for something, anything, is what Stanford wants in its students. But again, I’m not an admissions officer, so that is only my take on how to get in to Stanford.
Why Stanford? I immediately knew after getting my admissions letter and screaming about it for 20 minutes that I was going. I really didn’t apply to many “elite” private schools since I knew I wouldn’t get in to any of them. Stanford was always #1, so I just went ahead and committed a couple days later. Getting into a dream school or any school is a surreal experience. We work so hard for 4+ years just to get into college and then boom! You’re in.
All right, so moral of this very long story (sorry) is to not underestimate yourself. Apply to Stanford. Apply to your reach school. You’d be surprised about how things turn out. 
~Alex

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