Should I apply to Stanford REA?

I’m a junior who has been interested in Stanford since 5th grade.

However, I’m not sure if I should apply there as I am an Asian female who is interested in Bioengineering (like literally every other Asian female). This thread isn’t a chance-me, per se, but I will be including my stats/ecs for the purpose of answering four main questions:

  1. I know Stanford doesn’t admit based on major, but uncommon majors inevitably stand out, and thus have an higher chance of getting in (according to my naive logic lol). Based on that, what major do you think is uncommon enough to give me the highest chance of standing out amongst other Asian females, but will still fit in with my ECs? Do I have time to pivot to a more uncommon major (say, linguistics or something) or should I stick with my current spike? Do I even have a prominent spike?
  1. I’ve done research at a Stanford Med School lab even though I’m not from the Bay Area, and I’ll be entering this research at science competitions/conferences (both at the professional and high school level). I’ll also be getting a rec from this Stanford professor. How much of an advantage does this give me (if any) as the research is, unfortunately, STEM related.

  2. I’m starting to think getting into Stanford is just out of the question, as I don’t know how I’ll stand out among the 139823345834 other Asian females who are interested in BioE. As such, should I even apply? If I shouldn’t, can you please provide alternative schools with the same prestige and wacky culture that I have a higher chance of getting into?

  3. Since I’m already familiar with the Stanford research community, does that ruin my chances of getting into other top schools (like Harvard or MIT) because they’ll assume Stanford is my first choice?

So keeping in mind those four questions, here are my stats/ecs/relevant info:


- Research Intern @ Stanford Medical School

  • The only high school researcher in a lab with graduate and postgraduate researchers. No, I didn’t do research here just for the name, I did research here bc this was the only professor I found who was doing research in a very niche area that I was very interested in.

- Founder & President of an international 501©(3) fiscally-sponsored nonprofit whose focus is related to my major.

  • Impacted 7500+ people in 48+ states and 58+ countries
  • Implemented custom-made school curriculums at my old middle school, my old elementary school, an underserved school, and a community college.

- Founder & President of a school club whose focus is related to my spike

  • Created and led a popular middle school outreach program where club members teach their skills to feeder middle schools

- Self-Employed Bioengineering Entrepreneur

  • Working with researchers at a nearby major research university to develop (and hopefully bring to market) a device to help Parkinson’s patients. Even if I don’t get it to market by the time I apply, it’ll be a cool story to tell lol.

- iOS App Creator

  • Created an iOS app to help memory-loss patients recognize their loved ones. Will be rolling out in nursing homes this summer.

- Captain of Academic Challenge Team

  • Was appointed by club sponsor (did not ask to be captain)
  • Led a team of 50 students to sectional victory and second place at state
  • Individually won first place at sectionals and regionals in a category relating to my major

- Editor-in-Chief

  • Founded my region’s first peer-reviewed academic journal (in the area of my major) to feature student research

- Paid Teacher’s Assistant

  • Tutored gifted children in 1st through 5th grade in competition math
  • Created engaging activities for students to grasp challenging math concepts

- Mock Trial

  • Did it to get better at public speaking.

- Founder & Flute Section Leader

  • Lead a group of flutes in the top-audition band at my high school
  • Performed as a flutist in a prestigious Youth Symphony Orchestra
  • Founded and led a volunteer initiative to play music at assisted living facilities in my area
    • Facilitated and organized the shift to virtual performances during the COVID-19 pandemic

Senior Year Classes:

  • math dual enrollment at state school (linear algebra, diff eq)
  • 3 “hard science” AP Science classes (you know which ones)
  • 1 social science AP Science class (psych lol)
  • English and spanish AP lit
  • band honors


  • nothing special so not including specifics for privacy’s sake. basically, i’ve won a couple national and regional level awards (nothing international yet), but no first places. it’s all been like second/third/honorable mention, but at the national level in competitions with tons of ppl. also, no, i have not participated in any olympiads.

Test scores

  • Have taken enough APs, got 5’s on all except one 4
  • 3 subject tests, 800s on the ones relating to my major, 780 on one random (science) one that I took for literally no reason (btw, should I even send that)
  • 36 ACT, didn’t feel like taking SAT after the ACT score
  • GPA: both W and UW are perfects. not including specifics bc my school’s GPA system is weird.
  • class rank: school doesn’t rank, and the only percentile they tell u is if you’re top 2%. according to my counselor, I am in the top 2% in a class w like 700 ppl.

General info

okay, do your thing! also, this is my first time posting on this site and i’ve heard it can get pretty toxic, so i would really appreciate it if we could keep the toxicity out of this thread. thanks!

oops I accidentally posted that without finishing the general info part.
here it is:

  • large public high school from an affluent midwestern suburb
  • school is not a recognizable one, if ya know what i mean. it’s just a generic school. despite having a lot of high-achieving students, we don’t hv very many HYPSM acceptances (last Stanford one was from like 5 years ago).

I am a Stanford alum and interviewer (and Asian-Am). I think that you have an impressive spike and accomplishments. It is very difficult for anyone to get in. (This year’s admit rate will likely be less than 4%), but I think you a better shot than most. With your activities, it seems like Stanford, Caltech, and MIT are likely to be your top targets. You could either apply early to Stanford or apply early to both Caltech and MIT since they do not have restrictive early action. Since none of the three have early decision, you probably only get a small boost, but you would get some boost by applying early. Would not try to pivot to a less common major such as linguistics since your application should highlight your strengths, and they clearly lie in BioE. I would instead really run with the ball and double down. Maybe do something else this summer that extends your research such as RSI at MIT. Two major things that Stanford looks for are intellectual vitality and depth of commitment, both of which you can easily highlight in your application. Embrace who you are and put yourself out there.

Also if your flute playing is good enough for you to make all state band/orchestra, would consider submitting an arts supplement. Stanford does value arts abilities even for those who are not majoring in the arts. My son (Asian male from a large public midwestern high school) just got in , and I think that his musical supplement (all-state band) was likely very helpful.

Thanks for the prompt response, and congratulations to your son! To follow-up on your response:

  1. The reason I asked about linguistics is because languages, especially Spanish, have always come easy to me, so I think I could make that a spike in the next few months if necessary. I also have national awards backing that up, but no research or clubs. I get what you mean about doubling down on BioE, though.
  2. Most of my flute accomplishments are from freshman year when I had more time, but I gave up practicing to spend more time doing BioE stuff. As such, I’m actually a worse player now than I was back then, so given that do you think I should still submit an arts supplemental?

You have a strong profile that speaks very clearly to BioE. Agree with itsallgood, be who you are and present a clear narrative of what is important to you and how you will use your talents to improve the campus (and the world beyond that) in your application.

For RD, I would add Rice, which has outstanding BioE and a fun, collaborative, caring culture with many quirky students and a beautiful campus. You might have a good shot at getting one of the top merit scholarships at Rice (every applicant is automatically considered for the merit scholarships). Very generous financial aid if that is of interest.

Would not submit an arts supplement unless your playing is at a level that you could consider applying to music schools.
A strong letter from a Stanford professor would be helpful no matter which school you ended up targeting. I do not think you need to just have one “spike”. How about a big and a little spike, like a major and a minor. That could even be your theme that you use to package yourself, as someone who is deeply interested in many areas and full of curiosity about the world.

1 Like

Cool, thanks for the advice! I’ll definitely add Rice to my RD list :blush:

That’s a great idea, as I think I have enough to back up a linguistics minor but not a major. Thank you! Also, what’s the difference between SymSys and linguistics?

I would think of symbolic systems more like linguistics plus AI/CS.

You could tie together BioE and linguistics maybe with mind/body interface, neuroscience.