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Top 19 Stanford Admissions Essays

Stanford University

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 schools and get inspiration for your own Common App essay, supplements, and short answers. These successful Stanford essays include Common App essays, Stanford supplements, and other Stanford admissions essays.


  1. Stanford Essay – 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) I’m super excited to meet you! I’ll probably be moving in with my guitar, ukulele, harmonica, and clarinet. I’m always looking to learn new things, especially about other cultures! I’ve lived in Hong Kong my whole life but my extended family brings a number of cultures together – English, Danish, Swiss, Irish, and Chinese. A fun tradition that we have at birthdays is to sing the birthday song in six languages. It’ll be my first time in California and I’ll probably spend the first few weeks exploring the city to find some go-to spots. Probably a second-hand bookshop, a music… Continue Reading »
  2. Stanford 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. (100 to 250 words) I’m motivated by challenges and often see unanswered questions as challenges. One of the questions that I explored in my Theory of Knowledge class last year was whether or not it is possible to find a universal scale for ethics. The conclusion that there are legions of unsolvable ethical problems did not deter me but instead piqued my interest. I feel that there is value in exploring ethical beliefs because they make up the core of a person; every decision is charged with ethical implications and in that sense, ethics govern all journeys, past, present, and future. I’m excited by… Continue Reading »
  3. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (650 words) Tony ferociously attacked his Bible. He then clapped his hands sharply over his ears, shut his eyes tight, and started rocking back and forth in his seat. I had just started working with Tony as a classroom buddy at his Bible School. Panicked, I ran to the cupboard and returned with a box of crayons and some paper. He cautiously accepted my offering. As he made the first mark on the paper, I saw his eyes light up. He tried out all of the colors, but especially loved the sea green crayon. He evidently liked to scrape up the wax… Continue Reading »
  4. Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250 words) Past the quad, past the staff lounge, and behind the gymnasium, a portable building squats at the edge of the soccer field. This brown blemish houses the Resource Education Department, commonly referred to as “special needs.” I first entered that building through my school’s Buddy Lunch program, which unites general and resource education students together. The students that I have met through this program enjoy interacting with the broader school community, but their segregation from “mainstream” students deprives them of this opportunity. This marginalization resonates deeply with me because my cousin Nina has intellectual disabilities. She and I are so… Continue Reading »
  5. When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 word limit) I am an avid Disney fan, so I love listening to Disney soundtracks and watching Disney movies: The Little Mermaid is one of my favorites. I am enamored of the artistry and the immersive nature of each animated movie that makes me feel a Part of [its] World. Continue Reading »
  6. What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit) Whenever we remove our shoes at TSA checkpoints, my dad mumbles something about 9/11. This was certainly a significant day for America, but I would like to have witnessed the weeks after, when our nation set aside political, racial and ethnic differences and united in kindness and service.  Continue Reading »
  7. What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit) My AP art class has only ten students. While this declining interest in the arts may seem insignificant, it is an indication of a greater challenge in society: the decline of creativity. Creativity is necessary in all facets of problem solving, and its absences foreshadows a difficulty in overcoming obstacles. Continue Reading »
  8. 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 to 250 words) “There’s hydrogen and helium, and lithium, beryllium…” It was a miracle that I learned the entire periodic table. However, this would not have been possible without the help of a parody to the tune of Offenbach’s Cancan. My chemistry honors assignment was to memorize all of the elements, and it seemed to be an impossible task. For the life of me, I could not seem to memorize all of the obscure elements. As the textbook was not helping me at all, I found a brilliant video online that helped students memorize the entire periodic table. Using this song, I was… Continue Reading »
  9. 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 to 250 words) I love pineapples on my pizza; trust me, I’m not insane. But hey, what do I know, I’m also the type of person who plans for Christmas the day after Halloween. My favorite genre of music is anything from a Broadway musical, so be prepared for some late-night, solo, off-key renditions. If I’m not listening to Broadway music, then I’m probably watching a Disney movie, as I have a passion for both. This means that Broadway adaptations of Disney movies are the greatest thing since pineapples on pizza. But I’m not all about show tunes and kids’ movies; I love… Continue Reading »
  10. Imagine you had an extra hour in the day – how would you spend that time? (50 word limit) I sing in the shower, but I lose track of time in my imaginary concerts. Consequently, I end up throwing my unfinished breakfast into a Ziplock bag in my rush to school. With an extra hour, I would lengthen my private concerts and enjoy the world of my own imagination. Continue Reading »
  11. Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit) In 2015, I attended Stanford’s production of Hairspray and was awestruck by the talent and energy of the performers, who rivaled some of Broadway’s best. As a Stanford student, I want to enjoy the performances by students from the Theater & Performance Studies and become more culturally enlightened. Continue Reading »
  12. Common Application Personal Statement 1:Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (650 words) Tony ferociously attacked his Bible. He then clapped his hands sharply over his ears, shut his eyes tight, and started rocking back and forth in his seat. I had just started working with Tony as a classroom buddy at his Bible School. Panicked, I ran to the cupboard and returned with a box of crayons and some paper. He cautiously accepted my offering. As he made the first mark on the paper, I saw his eyes light up. He tried out all of the colors, but especially loved the sea green crayon. He evidently liked to scrape up the wax… Continue Reading »
  13. Common App Essay Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? “What can you see?” the lady in the white coat asked me.“E,” I said, staring at the biggest letter on the top of the eye chart.“Anything else?” she inquired.“Umm…No,” I shook my head. Everything below the first line was a blur.Thus, at the age of five, I was officially diagnosed with severe myopia. The optometrist then shoved a monstrous gadget in my face, repeatedly asking me to read the eye chart while she changed the lenses.… Continue Reading »
  14. Stanford Supplement – Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250) The first day of senior year, dozens of girls in my grade came to school with a brand new nose. That very day, my friend asked me whether or not my mom was planning on paying for my nose job this year. Like all the women and men in my family, I possess the infamous family “Schnoz,” a nose curved and wide- with that lovely flat bridge in middle. I have the nose of my mother, her mother, and all of my ancestors. Lots of families have a relic of sorts that is passed on from generation to generation. My… Continue Reading »
  15. Stanford Supplement – Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250) The first day of senior year, dozens of girls in my grade came to school with a brand new nose. That very day, my friend asked me whether or not my mom was planning on paying for my nose job this year. Like all the women and men in my family, I possess the infamous family “Schnoz,” a nose curved and wide- with that lovely flat bridge in middle. I have the nose of my mother, her mother, and all of my ancestors. Lots of families have a relic of sorts that is passed on from generation to generation. My… Continue Reading »
  16. Common Application Personal Statement Please don’t blame me for the fact that I’m a bit bossy, a little neurotic, and sometimes a hypochondriac. I truly can’t help it. After all, I’m a Virgo, and that’s just how we are. But, hey, I make up for it with my charm, sensitivity, and creativity- I have my moon in Libra to thank for that.My sister– a Sagittarius no doubt — is considered the smartest one of the family. She likes to ridicule my astrological obsession. Of course my family would laugh at me; they are a posse of self-assured fire signs who would never in a… Continue Reading »
  17. Stanford Supplement: 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. Dear future roomie,I hope you won’t think I’m a book destroyer. The first thing most people notice when they walk into my room is the beautifully calligraphed quotes printed on an assortment of colorful squares that adorn my walls. The quotes range from heartwarming (“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”-Proust) to motivational (“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”-Alcott) and are perfectly positioned for me to read every night from my bed as I doze off to sleep.But… Continue Reading »
  18. Stanford Supplement: 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. In the dimmed classroom, I perked up as the Frontline documentary announced that Marin County, just miles away, has one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates. The conundrum that such a highly educated liberal-leaning population is largely unwilling to participate in a vital aspect of public health propelled me into the school newsroom, where my initial curiosity evolved into a story proposal.A week later, my co-writer and I exchanged looks of disbelief when we got an interview with Carl Krawitt, the outspoken vaccine advocate who had been interviewed by the NYTimes, Reuters, and in that same documentary. Soon after, we… Continue Reading »
  19. UC PIQ: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. I used to believe the common consensus of my classmates: math education beyond elementary level had few applications in real life. However, my perception of math has since changed. It’s not about what you learn, it’s the way math makes you think.Math is a tool I use to navigate the world around me. In third grade, I learned to think quickly by rehearsing my multiplication tables. In middle school, I explored my creativity by solving math riddles unconventionally. Now in AP Statistics, I sharpen my analytical skill and logical reasoning when designing population studies. Acquiring these skills has its challenges,… Continue Reading »
  20. UC PIQ: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? The rattle of a doorknob pierced the night. It was my grandfather, Yeye. As usual, he was disoriented, thought it was time to eat, and being hard of hearing, required loud convincing by my mom to return to bed. Plaque and tangles had accumulated in my grandfather’s brain, and now they spread into our everyday lives.With my step-grandmother suddenly moving back to Taiwan, my family was completely unprepared to care for a 90-year-old disabled man. There were no funds for professional elder care, so my mom, dad, and I had to quickly adapt to accommodate his needs. After a number… Continue Reading »
  21. UC PIQ: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side. Ding! I had just received an email from my school’s yearbook committee in response to the first draft of my 2018 cover design. “We like the background, but the illustrated academy symbols are lacking originality.” I stared at my design in Photoshop and fidgeted with my stylus pen, without a solution. How could I create a clever retro-themed cover that integrated the visual, theatre, music, and dance academies of my school? I left my computer and went for a walk. Standing beneath my neighbor’s expansive tree, it became obvious that I needed to branch out and find inspiration from artists… Continue Reading »
  22. UC PIQ: Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program was a pivotal experience in my education. At no cost, I was selected to study computer science for 7 weeks amongst highly motivated females like myself.Each day I was grouped with new girls to collaborate on projects and form new friendships. We explored the coding languages of HTML, CSS, Arduino C, and Python (my favorite). I learned to code my own website, program robots to sing the latest pop songs, and create games that my peers could interact with! My curiosity drove me to ask many questions as I was eager to perfect… Continue Reading »
  23. Stanford Essay: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why The day’s memories flash through my mind as I lie in bed. The piano plays. Their eyes watch. My voice cracks. My music teacher shakes his head in disappointment. I open my eyes. The streetlight beams through the blinds, casting long shadows across my bedroom. I pull back my covers and hit the lights. Only one solution can clear the thunderstorm raging in my mind. I open a bedside drawer to reveal the archive of my personal thoughts. Clasped with a letter lock, my journal contains the story of my life over years of entries. I flip it open and… Continue Reading »
  24. Stanford Essay: 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. Dear Roommate,When we first meet, I will greet you with a giant smile. Just so you know, this smile will never disappear. You see, I’m like a light bulb: always bright and full of energy! I look forward to sharing my positivity as we absorb ourselves in all that the Stanford community has to offer. Let’s attend job fairs and club meetings together, then grab breakfast for dinner with all the new friends we’ve made! Life can be exhilarating, but it’s important to stay grounded. I do this through the arts. I’ll spend my free time songwriting in bed with… Continue Reading »
  25. Stanford 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. Ding! I had just received an email in response to the first draft of my 2018 yearbook cover design. “We like the background, but the illustrated academy symbols are lacking originality.” How could I create a clever retro-themed cover that integrated the visual, theatre, music, and dance academies of my school? After a week of researching countless works, I discovered that styles from the 1900’s-1920’s resonated the strongest for this project. Finally, I was ready to transcend my own limitations.Referencing the artistic movement of De Stijl, I restricted my color palette to shades of red, teal, and primrose yellow. I… Continue Reading »
  26. Common Application Essay: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.  The rattle of a doorknob shook me awake, and then… BAM! A door slammed open. He’s coming, aided by his walker. Clunk. Shuffle. Shuffle. My clock read 4:27 AM. It was the third time tonight, a new record. The hall light switched on and in Chinese, my grandfather’s deep voice pierced the night against my mom’s whispers. As usual, he was disoriented, thought it was time to eat, and being hard of hearing, required loud convincing by my mom to return to bed. Later that morning, as my dad and I prepared breakfast, my grandfather hobbled into the kitchen. “Good… Continue Reading »
  27. Stanford Supplement Essay: Future Roommate 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. Hello, dear roommate. Let’s break the laws of the Universe. Although it’s not quite to scale, I like to think of our new home as an atom, and you and I as two wonderfully energetic electrons buzzing around campus. Now, the Pauli exclusion principle lays down the law quite firmly-“No two identical fermions can occupy the same quantum state simultaneously.” However, this presents some serious problems for our blooming room-lationship. I… Continue Reading »
  28. Stanford Supplement Essay: Intellectual Vitality Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. The sterile neutrino. It was like trying to catch and study a bullet traveling at 400 m/s using a wet piece of tissue paper. Originally a ‘desperate attempt’ to explain the violation of conservation laws in beta- decay, the neutrino has a history of anomaly. Neutrinos interact exclusively via the weak force, so interaction is rare–making them nearly impossible to detect. Following the first detector discovery, physicists worked for almost a century to create a non- contradictory understanding of these… Continue Reading »
  29. Stanford Supplement Essay: Short Questions SHORT QUESTIONS Name your favorite books, authors, films, and/or artists.* Books:The Elegant Universe(Brian Greene), Imagine(Jonah Lehrer), And The Mountains Echoed(Khaled Hosseini), Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom(George G Gamow), Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann!(Richard Feynmann et al) Films: Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Donnie Darko(who doesn’t love a cult classic?) Artists: (painting) Salvador Dali and Francois Miglio (music) Alt-J, Sufjan Stevens, Bowerbirds What newspapers, magazines, and/or websites do you enjoy? Newspapers: The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazines: The Economist, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Sky & Telescope, Scientific American, Physics Today, National Geographic Websites: Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN,… Continue Reading »
  30. Stanford Common App Essay: My Name 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. “SunHee? Isn’t that an Asian name? Aren’t you black?” Yes, my name is actually SunHee. Yes, it’s Asian. Yes, I am indeed black. From a young age, I’ve always carried a name that I considered too out of the ordinary. SunHee, a Korean name meaning “princess of goodness and righteousness”, packed a great deal of power and responsibility- both of which I didn’t believe I was… Continue Reading »
  31. Stanford Common App Essay: Computer Programming Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? I stand in the security line at LAX amid a sea of blue TSA agents. Despite the surrounding chaos of rushed passengers, screaming babies, and the fear of abandoned luggage, my mind is at ease: I am intently surveying my environment, my eyes darting between blue-clad agents and shoeless passengers as I analyze the TSA’s security system. Which passengers are pre-checked and can breeze through screening? What determines whether someone goes through the body scanner or… Continue Reading »
  32. Stanford Common App Essay: Challenge of the Future 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. It was Veteran’s Day, and my kindergarten class was listing family members who had served in the military. I raised my hand, waving it intensely, intent on sharing mine. Regardless of the lack of honesty in my statement, I went for it. “My grandpa was in the army.” I needed an explanation for his absence, so my imagination filled the void where truth didn’t exist. He… Continue Reading »
  33. Stanford Common App Essay: Math Competitions 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. Once the lyrics started, my eyes had no chance of holding back the eager river of tears. B.o.B’s song “Don’t Let Me Fall” spoke to me deeply and immediately. It was the same morning I left the 2013 Mu Alpha Theta National Convention (the largest nationwide math competition), and upon the suggestion of my best friend Andrew, I listened to what he claimed would summarize our… Continue Reading »
  34. Stanford Common App Essay: Spirit of a Scientist 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. I step through the silence towards the metal doors, bathed in the fluorescent glow that accompanies me to my destination. The air gets colder. I stare at my breath, now a cloud, and move through the stale, unflattering light onto the platform. The pure white dome beckons to me–silent, promising–and I step inside. Admiring the giant in the room–a solitary, intimidating block of metal and glass–I… Continue Reading »
  35. Stanford Common App Essay: Sheila Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. As I sat in the one roomed ramshackle, I could tell that the five other individuals with whom I shared the room were fast asleep. The lamp was slowly waning, a true sign that the kerosene was almost used up. Unlike the screams and gunshots that filled the air the previous night, the entire slum was silent. I was frantically trying to piece together the next day’s lesson plan but She was all I could think of. She… Continue Reading »
  36. Stanford Common App Essay: Research The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? “Why do you think that happened?” my research mentor probed. His disheveled waist-length hair rustled as he nudged me to respond.  Round, purple glasses tinted his vision, yet I felt he was staring deeply into my soul. His fingers tapped to the jazzy beat of the psychedelic Sly and the Family Stone song streaming from the vintage loudspeakers on his desk. The laboratory room was a… Continue Reading »
  37. Stanford Common App Essay: Circus Center Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. I derive pleasure from the adventure of exploring the physical capacity of my body, pulling myself out of alignment and into the discovery of new movements. The summer that I spent at the San Diego Circus Center fostered my playful mindset by providing an eclectic knowledge base and a supportive environment that allowed me to safely push the bounds of my body. Up until that summer, I had… Continue Reading »