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How to Get Into Stanford....By Someone Who Didn't

cuteraspberriescuteraspberries 58 replies27 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited February 28 in Stanford University
Introduction

I wanted to go to Stanford since I was eleven years old. Since the day I set foot on Stanford's campus, I studied my butt off in high school, did what I was passionate about, wrote and edited my Stanford essays years before I even applied, did killer extracurricular activities, and burned myself getting good standardized test scores. I read every blog possible and watched every YouTube video about how to get into Stanford. I was confident I would also get in, but not too confident, because I knew the acceptance rate.

I never really thought about getting a rejection letter.

For years, I compiled my thoughts about applying to Stanford into several Google Docs. After my rejection, I've been reviewing what worked, what didn't, and how I would've changed my application to get in. I'm a lot wiser now, a lot more aware about the things I should've done, and less blind to what accepted Stanford students told me I needed to do.

Standardized Testing: the Thing that Matters Least

I knew this even while applying, but for some applicants it really hasn't hit them yet. Tests don't matter. Nor do they in life. As long as you have 700+s in each section of the SAT, or subject SAT, you're fine. If you have high 600s, you'll be okay if you're low-income or a minority (black, hispanic, or an underrepresented Asian like Vietnamese). You'll notice that accepted students on the internet who post "Got Into Stanford With Low _____" are a minority. And that's OK. Stanford and schools in general need diversity, and historically minorities have been oppressed so they can't pay to get top-notch levels of education or retake SATs to get higher scores. But I'm speaking the truth and the reality: you need above 700s if you're not a minority to be accepted. Very, very, very rare circumstances may be otherwise.

If you're wondering what my scores were, you really shouldn't be concerned. Because again, all were above 700s. But, for those who care a bit too much: 1520 SAT (770M/750R), 780 Molecular Biology. On my application, I wrote that my race was White (Middle Eastern). If you were rejected and all your scores were above 700s, then you were rejected for a reason other than your scores…
edited February 28
28 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: How to Get Into Stanford....By Someone Who Didn't

  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom 526 replies30 threadsRegistered User Member
    @cuteraspberries first of all, i’d Like to say you are an amazing person who will succeed no matter what college you end up at. Your healthy lifestyle, intellectual curiosity and go-getter attitude will get you further in life than any college degree.

    I am a mom to a junior who hasn’t been rejected from Stanford but might be in a year as well. But she will apply and take her chances next year. Whether or not she gets in probably won’t change my opinion of what Stanford is looking for, since my daughter is an “average excellent” kid who is not exceptional in the eyes of AO’s and her chances will depend on whether her essays and extra-curriculars appeal to Stanford or not. But I’d like to expand your thread and start a discussion for HS freshmen and their parents who are trying to figure out what to do during high school years if they’d like to play the Stanford admission lottery.

    I agree with you about the test scores, they matter the least and once you reach a certain threshold, there is no sense perfecting that 35 on the ACT to 36. For the AP’s, I’d probably recommend reporting all 5’s and 4’s, but most importantly - choosing AP classes carefully in the first place. Just like in everything else, quality should always come before quantity, and while rigor is important, the overall narrative is more critical. Someone who has taken all AP’s offered by their HS but no fun electives might be less interesting who took a rigorous enough course load in their area on concentration, say STEM, and photography or ceramics classes. Anyway, HS curriculum is a huge topic fit for another thread, but to summarize, not just your GPA and course rigor matter, but which classes you take matter as well.

    I would disagree with you on essays somewhat - the first rule should be “do no harm”. While it typically helps your cause to admit an endearing idiosyncrasy, flaw or even shortcoming, I would certainly stay away from topics of racism, homophobia, plagiarism, etc. Even mental health issues should probably be avoided if you can help it and don’t need to explain grades dip, etc.

    Each college wants to see its students to succeed before and after graduation, bring the good kind of notoriety and of course express gratitude to their alma mater financially upon reaching that success. Stanford is no different. They want smart kids who can think outside the box, contribute to student life during studies and to bigger community upon graduation. So kids have two challenges - becoming the type Stanford wants, and then proving that they are indeed the type :)
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  • International DadInternational Dad 299 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    @cuteraspberries Read your post was amazing and very helpful.
    Thank’s for share.
    I know you’ll find a great place for you.
    Good luck.
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  • riley2riley2 66 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @cuteraspberries

    I’ve seen your posts for a long time and it was clear how much you wanted to get admitted to Stanford. Frankly, I was a little surprised you didn’t. I enjoyed reading your take on the process; you make some great points.

    But let me say this: you are too hard on yourself. For one thing, you are obviously not boring. But mostly, you are leaving out of one of the most important reasons you did not get accepted. In a word, it’s “RANDOMNESS”. First of all, you have 47,000 applicants for 2000 positions. Secondly, and perhaps even more important, Stanford - and every selective school - is trying to construct a class consisting of a wide variety of students. They want students of different backgrounds, different interests, different approaches to life etc. etc. So in other words, there isn’t a single “formula” or “something Stanford is looking for”. You were more than qualified, and in another year or with another constellation of random factors you could well have been admitted. Though your guidelines are valid, ultimately a successful application to Stanford (unless you are an Intel winner, child of a very major donor, or a recruited athlete) is going to be part lottery winner, part dumb luck.

    By the way, you’re going to be fine.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5398 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited February 15
    "you are leaving out of one of the most important reasons you did not get accepted. In a word, it’s “RANDOMNESS”."

    I did get accepted to Stanford for graduate school. To be honest I have never known why I was accepted while other great students were rejected. I have always assumed that I was helped by geographic diversity, strong GRE scores, and strong references (I had been working and got along very well with my boss). However, my undergrad grades were marginal for Stanford, and other strong students, including some with higher undergrad GPAs, are turned down all the time.

    I do think that it is at best very hard to predict who will get accepted, and not fully possible to know why any particular person was accepted or rejected. Stanford or another equal sized school could fill an entire freshman class with very strong students who had been rejected by Stanford and have a class which is academically just as strong as the actual freshman class at Stanford. The same could be said of other top US schools.
    edited February 15
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  • yucca10yucca10 1241 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Robab, you're obviously a very interesting person. Unfortunately, there are many interesting kids with great grades and the whole shebang, more than Stanford can accept. I hope you get into a great school but I'm sure you'll do just fine wherever you end up. Good luck!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33496 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's not random. They know the sorts they want and who leaves them lukewarm, at best. Kids could stand to understand what that is, not guess.

    OP doesn't know why she/he didn't get in.


    "If you were rejected and all your scores were above 700s, then you were rejected for a reason other than your scores…" Duh. There's a full app and challenging supp. Not just a report of grades, ECs, whatever you feel like writing. Not just wanting them since lower school (as if that proves snything.)
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  • riley2riley2 66 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited February 15
    Of course it’s not completely random. What I’m saying is that there is a significant element of randomness given the enormous number of applicants and the imperfection of the system, as well as the fact that AO’s are human beings with emotions and biases like everyone else. I mean, think about it, an AO is not some godlike creature: s/he is a modestly paid midlevel employee of Stanford who did not even necessarily attend college there. Because of that, I hate to see kids beating themselves up trying to figure out what was wrong with them that they got rejected. Sometimes you can do everything right, and still not get picked. There is simply no magic formula. (And btw, my kid got in.)
    edited February 15
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  • DHMchicagoDHMchicago 83 replies11 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I found this a fun and interesting read, with much imbedded truth. Based on the few kids who have gotten in out of the dozens I’ve interviewed, there was indeed a sense of authenticity. But who is going to read this who is authentic? If you are on CC, you are trying hard to get in, thus not authentic. But you’re pretty damn close. Good luck to you.
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  • preppedparentpreppedparent 3341 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your post is important. You can still do everything right, and NOT be admitted to your first choice. It happens a lot. The colleges are looking who to give their golden ticket to. They have lots of buckets of "types" of students. The one who got picked ahead of you may have been in the same bucket, and they didn't need another so soon.
    Don't beat yourself up. All you can do is work hard, and be yourself, and pray for a little luck. The good news is success is not dependent on the name of your college.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3953 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This applies to all hard to get into schools. The essays need to be unique, personal and interesting. They should create a sticky for your posts. Lots of good information.
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  • pungie2000pungie2000 78 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited February 28
    To everyone who read this thread:

    I know from school, she is one of my dearest friends and I just found this post!!!
    YOU'RE THE MOST AMAZING ACCOMPLISHED PERSON I KNOW!

    In my opinion, she freaking deserved to get into Stanford! I was so shocked when she didn't. If you knew her IRL, you would see how precious this human being is.
    edited February 28
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1403 replies13 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Stanford is overrated, lol.
    I hope writing this thread is cathartic for you OP. There are so many wonderful places out there that you can thrive, be productive, and be happy. Stanford just happens not to be one of them. Their loss.
    Good luck.
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  • INmomof4INmomof4 0 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    The Stanford alumni magazine had an article about admissions: https://stanfordmag.org/contents/what-it-takes

    The feedback in the following magazine issue was interesting also,
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 8838 replies325 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    After my rejection, I've been reviewing what worked, what didn't, and how I would've changed my application to get in.

    There's no secret formula for getting into selective schools. Students who got accepted don't know what it was about their app that tipped the scale in their favor. Students who are academically qualified but didn't get accepted can't know for sure why they got that decision either. It's nice that you want to help other students, but unless you got direct feedback from the college you really don't know what worked and what didn't.

    I hope you have other affordable options that you're excited about.
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