Should I REA at Stanford?

It’s my dream dream school-perfect size, it’s in CA, and has an open curriculum. Three of my best friends are applying REA there (Valedictorian, top 20, all AP kinda students, competitive academics). One is a double legacy and NMS Finalist and a good writer.

I know the chances of anyone getting in REA is already incredibly slim, and I’m sure there are other people beyond my friend group applying to S early as well.

If colleges evaluate us in a local context, would my chances be the same either way? I’m sure the most competitive applicants tend to apply early, so should I reserve my application for RD and “risk” someone else from my school getting in first?

I hope I don’t come off as pretentious; I am well aware that S is extremely competitive and I have a very low chance of getting in either way. I was just wondering which decision deadline would help my chances. Thanks in advance!

Are you applying via Questbridge? If so, you’re technically applying binding ED (to all except MIT) to up to 12 schools.

Ranking colleges:

Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!

I am not applying through Questbridge, thank you for your reply though!

What are your stats/extracurriculars? Applying to Stanford IS extremely competitive, but it’s difficult to chance you when we don’t have any information to go by lol.

Also, I’m obviously biased since I go here, but have you considered Brown? While it’s not located in CA, it IS the most widely known school with a truly Open Curriculum. :smile:

About me: first-gen, Hispanic/Asian, bilingual, middle class, from a suburb in CA

Stats: Top 5% of class (19/370), UW GPA: 3.917 (two B’s freshman year), W GPA: 4.354, ACT: 33 (will be submitting this score), AP tests: three 4’s, two 5’s (AP Scholar), three courses at a local college, all A’s. I’m also a National Hispanic Merit Scholarship recipient.

-11 years of piano + awards from local/state level piano competitions (writing an essay on this)
-Studied abroad in Asia twice (writing an essay on this)
-Summer all-girls coding program (maybe writing an essay on this)
-Vice President of county-wide leadership board
-Social media manager for a local racial justice nonprofit (unpaid work)
-6 years of mock trial up to the state level, 4 years of involvement in a school-wide political club, 4 year National Honors Society member, various other clubs
-Volunteering at local library, food bank, and symphonies

My interests are political science/social justice and coding. I’d be applying under PS.

For comparison, my friends who are applying have UW GPA 4.0 and one has an SAT score of 1590. The other friend is valedictorian. My stats are not perfect but I believe they are good enough.

I’m also applying to Cal (my second dream school, yes I knew there is a conflict of interest with S ? ), UCLA, UCSB, Pomona, Cal Poly SLO, and Brown like you suggested. My college list is not finalized atm. Thank you, by the way, for all your help!

You will be evaluated against similar students, which in your case means the under-represented first gen and Hispanic groups interested in STEM. In that context, I think you have a decent shot at the HYPSM level as your academics are strong and you have some good extracurriculars as well.

But among the HYPSMs, I think your best fit sounds like Yale. They emphasize community engagement, and they particularly love STEM kids because they are often overlooked for STEM compared to the remaining HYPSMs.

Your ACT is DEFINITELY within range for Stanford and other T20s (and GPA’s strong in multiple AP classes, though idk much about your school to know about context: you should ask your guidance counselor, who should be able to provide you with advice about the profiles of students admitted from your school in the past to Stanford) Selective schools want you to have time and energy in your ECs, and it looks like you have and they relate your intended major. If Stanford is your top choice and you can afford it if admitted, I would recommend applying REA, if nothing else but to not regret it down the road. Make sure to apply widely, however, to matches, ranges, and safeties, and hope for the best. :smile:

Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!

You are competitive for any college, including Stanford. Of course, as you know, it is still a high reach, but it is within reach.

However - can your parent afford it? Run you NPC and check it out. As a high-achieving applicant who is a two-fold URM (if by first-gen, you mean that your parents did not attend college), you could potentially get a number of offers during RD (depending on where you apply), and you may want to be able to compare financial packages, which you will not be able to really do for REA.

@MWolf REA is not binding, so there’s nothing stopping the OP from applying elsewhere RD and considering financial aid/merit scholarship offers. :smile:

It DOES limit where else OP can apply early, but I believe (check with the admissions office to be sure OP as the wording’s kind of vague given the other rules,) you can apply non-binding EA to a private school as long as the following’s true:

"VI. Exceptions … any college/university with an early deadline for a scholarship or special academic program, as long as:

  1. the decision is non-binding; and
  2. in order to be considered for the scholarship or program, the student must apply in the early round or by an early deadline."

Stanford REA Rules:


I say go for REA. Are you submitting an Arts Portfolio? If so, please note that the REA deadline is earlier - October 15th.

Here is more information on what is required for instrumentalists:

Make sure to follow the guidelines (time restrictions) exactly!

My ds had been playing piano for a similar amount of time when he applied to Stanford. He applied REA and was deferred, then admitted in RD. If your piano playing is conservatory level playing (or pretty dang close), I think this will help your application. His Common App essay was also about piano.

Overall, I would say you are in a very competitive group simply from being from California, so you will need to make every effort to stand out from the pack. Good luck!

For poli sci/SJ, what have you actually done that puts you in the local political scene- eg, working for a rep or working directly with the local needy in some roll-up-your-sleeves way?

Be cautious about writing about study in Asia. Understand what the essay (any writing, even short answers,) is meant to convey. So many kids who write about an experience in a parent’s family country of origin end up relating the experience, rather than some growth of interest to adcoms.

And it’s not going to be all about who has a few more gpa points than you. You do need to learn more about what it really takes, how holistic (and the expectations of Stanford) will play. This is not just about who has the stats and some nice ECs and, “Sure, go ahead and apply.” At this level of college, it pays to have a strategy.

For your interests and how you manifested them, what will make them select you? If there are gaps, how can you fill them or work around them?

Of course, covid limits. But think about it.

You are correct - I did not realize that the OP would not need to make a decision before the next May.

In that case, unless there is a college to which the OP would prefer applying ED or REA, they may as well apply REA.


Thank you for all of the information!

My passion for social justice (and consequently, political science) comes from my experiences as a Hispanic-Asian-American with immigrant parents. I recently spoke with a Cal graduate and found out that their political science major is more law-focused than current affairs-focused, so I may be applying under Ethnic Studies at some colleges instead. Still doing research on this however.

My interest in international relations comes from- surprise- my summers spent living in my mom’s home country, which ultimately led me to my two study abroad programs. If I opt to write about my experiences there (and how it changed my definition of culture and identity), I will certainly keep your comments in mind.

The more I research, the more I realize my interests diverge from political science. To answer your initial question, however, I am currently doing phone banking for the upcoming election and will work on a local congressperson’s campaign soon (requirement of my AP Gov class). I’ve been an attorney on my middle/high school’s mock trial team for 6 years and have won a county-wide award for it. Additionally, I am the Vice-president of my county’s Youth Board, which involves local current affairs and community improvement. I’m also the social media director of a local racial justice nonprofit as I stated earlier.

In regards to the ‘strategy’ you mentioned, what do you mean by that exactly? Is that an overarching theme/arc in an application or something else?

I think the strength in my ECs is that I have dedicated years to them because they are all things I care about- I didn’t sign up for ‘standard’ polysci resume-padders just for the sake of college applications.

Again, thank you the help :slight_smile: