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Stanford Application Essays Undergraduate

Stanford University is one of the most selective universities in the US, admitting just 4.8% of applicants. The dream school for many students, here are all the short answer prompts and supplemental essays you’ll need to answer in order to apply.

Stanford University is located near San Francisco in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. Close to 45,000 students applied to Stanford last year, making the competition extremely tough. With well-rounded undergraduate programs and resources, Stanford attracts many applicants with diverse background and interested, especially those who are interested in entrepreneurship and engineering.

Applying to Stanford University this year? Stanford’s application requires 8 additional short answers and 3 additional supplemental essays:

Short Answer Prompts

1. The following short answer prompts all have a 50 word limit.

2. What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?

3. How did you spend your last two summers?

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

5. What five words best describe you?

6. When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch?

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

8. Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time?

Supplemental Essay Prompts

Essay Prompt #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. (100 to 250 words)

This essay prompt is slightly different from the essay prompt that was given last application season. Though the prompt changed slightly, the essay prompt is still asking the applicants the same thing: what makes you intellectually curious. Check out a few successful Stanford essay excerpts from essays included in the package below. 

 

We’ve curated a package of 5 Stanford student profiles that include the response to this specific essay prompt. See how others approached this supplemental essay in full by unlocking the “Stanford Supplement: Intellectual Vitality” package!

Essay Prompt #2

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)

The “Dear Roommate” essay! This essay prompt stumps a lot of applicants because it seems so casual, but can reveal so much about an applicant. It’s difficult to strike that balance: to show off who you are to a peer and to demonstrate your personality to the actual reader, the admissions office. Here are 5 roommate supplemental excerpts that might help you get off to the right start.  

 

Want to read the supplemental essay examples in full? Unlock the Stanford Roommate Supplement package!

Essay Prompt #3

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

Again, the Stanford supplement here has changed the wording of the supplement, but the core of the question is still asking the same thing. What is something that is valuable to you? It can be a memory, a book, or even a feeling. Here are 5 successful examples you can take a look at—some wrote about music, others wrote about what the future holds. 

 

Need more inspiration for your supplemental essays? Unlock our “What Matters To You, and Why? Supplement package!

Applying to college?

View the app files and essays of accepted students.

LEARN MORE

Want access to successful examples of Stanford supplemental essays? Our premium plans offer different level of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our packages or search our undergraduate profile database to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! 

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




The point of this essay is to invoke the casual nature of roommate relationships and invite students to take a more relaxed approach to writing about themselves. It brings the application to life by asking you to write only about your own personality, which feels more open than other essays that ask you to answer a specific question like “Describe your community” or “Talk about a mentor who got you through a difficult time.” While answering both of those prompts still offers insight into who the author is, they are fundamentally centralized around another person or topic, which is why Stanford cuts straight to the chase with this prompt to actually get to know you better.

 

Stanford is looking for an extremely authentic 250-word portrayal of your character that could distinctly identify you from a crowd of essays. If you got to meet your admissions officer in person, and only had 60 seconds to pitch yourself without using anything from your activities or awards, what would you say first? If you were legitimately writing a letter to your roommate at Stanford, what would you want them to know about the prospect of living with you? If you imagine how your Stanford alumni interview might play out, what topics do you hope to steer towards?

 

Think deeply about these questions and first see if there is something meaningful that you want to convey, and look through Prompt 3 to see if it would best serve answering the question, “What matters to you, and why?” instead of this roommate prompt. If you do have a more serious answer, you can style the essay like a very formal letter or like a traditional 1-2 paragraph short essay without any of the letter gimmicks at all to stand out syntactically.

 

If you don’t think you have any important topics on the serious side that you want to specifically cover in the space for this prompt (an extreme medical condition, a family hardship etc.), you could also go for another popular tactic by creating a fun, miscellaneous essay.

 

This prompt can arguably be one of the most entertaining to write and read of all college supplemental essays because of the opportunity to present the admissions office with an amalgamation of weird topics. Last year’s CollegeVine guide encouraged students to explore their quirky side with this prompt by writing about unique hobbies or interesting personality oddities. It also advises staying away from things like politics (i.e., don’t indicate which party or ideology you tend to support, even through jokes or minor references, since you don’t want to step on any toes).

 

Don’t sweat too much over the exact way to put the essay in letter format. Starting with something like “Hi! I am ridiculously stoked to meet you!” or any other straightforward greeting that doesn’t sound too cheesy is totally fine. If you decide to, you can essentially make a bullet list of “fun me facts” if you want to include the maximum amount of content. Remember that this essay should be fun!

 

Since it is usually hard to come up with good material about your own diverse personality while staring at a blank computer screen, try keeping a note on your phone and adding to it gradually as you think of things throughout the day. Think about what you enjoy and jot down notes like:

I love Sandra Bullock movies. I wish I could stop biting my nails, and sometimes I do, but only until I take a test or watch a freaky movie. I hate doing my laundry and the song ‘Drops of Jupiter.’ I planned myself a Cutthroat Kitchen-themed birthday party last year because I love cooking contest shows. My favorite store is the Dollar Tree, and when I’m there I always feel like I’m getting too much stuff, but when I leave I regret putting stuff back. Before I go to bed, I like to watch clips from Ellen or Jimmy Fallon because I think it gives me funny dreams. I’m attracted to buying gift wrap even if I have no reason for it, a trait I inherited from my mom. I love chicken. I sleep like a rock and unfortunately, that means I need an incredibly loud alarm clock, but I also will never be bothered by late night noise, etc.

 

You can see by how long this section got just how easy it can be to talk about yourself once you get started…

 

Try to intersperse some facts that relate to activities you could do together or things that would be important for an actual roommate to know to stay true to the prompt. Juxtaposing random facts might not be the way to go if you feel they are redundant with your short answers or too all over the place for you. Putting together just a few key aspects of your personality and typical habits with more coherent elaboration on each and topping it off with a “Love, your future roomie” holds the potential to become an engaging essay as well.

 

Here is another example that shows a ton of personality and utilizes a list format:

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