How to Get into Stanford (after 12th) as an Undergraduate

Getting into Stanford is no joke and there are certainly no set-in-stone guidelines for one to follow that ensure one’s acceptance in an ivy league or elite college like this. In fact, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to ivy league and elite colleges. However, there are a few things to understand how to get into Stanford.

How to Get into Stanford after 12th

Before we start with how to get into Stanford, we also must acknowledge the fact that every student and individual is different and just because you can’t get into Stanford doesn’t mean that you’re not worth better. If you do not get into Stanford, that probably means you weren’t meant to be there and there’s probably something better for you in-store. So, let’s get starting on what must one do to get into Stanford for their Undergraduate studies!

Starting at Stanford as an Undergraduate is a prestigious thing already and as we know, prestigious things have competition! Several Stanford students have worked at NASA and published it to be on the New York Times best sellers’ list. A community of successful people that everyone wants to be a part of. So, if you are planning to go to Stanford, tighten up your seatbelts.

How tough is it to get into Stanford, really?

Well, it is very tough, and we meant it! Stanford is the most selective school in the nation.

The most recent application cycle produced a 5.2% admissions rate. That means that out of 45,227 applicants, only 2,349 gained acceptance. Among accepted students, 1,706 decided to attend Stanford, giving the school an 68.4% matriculation rate.

Previously, over 44,000 UG students apply at Stanford and only around 2,200 students are accepted, even after that only around 1,700 students are enrolled.

I hope this gives you an idea!

Let’s break the myths!

What does Stanford Look for in Undergarduate Applicants?

#1 Strong academics are compromisable?

They are completely uncompromisable and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Strong academics and scores are a must if you want to get into Stanford and there’s no other way around it.

The colleges pay a lot more attention to the courses taken than the GPA (i.e. performance in the coursework). They look if a student has taken rigorous coursework, courses tied to what they want to pursue in college, how well they did in those courses, and how did they trend over time.

If you want to be an engineer, better to have rigorous coursework in Math, Physics, etc., and you better be holding good grades in high school or improving them over time.

There is a very fine line between rigor and performance, something each student and parent should keep an eye on as they progress in high school.

#2 You must be well rounded?

That is a myth and not a myth. Stanford requires its students to have good scores in every subject but it also demands students to have one focus area in extracurriculars where they excel no matter what, or as they like to call it, a ‘spike’.

Having a single focus is extremely crucial to getting into Stanford. Stanford is certainly not very much into students who are ok in everything. They rather look for something that you’re especially good at. Something that makes you indispensable in a certain field. That shall be your spike. Spike is necessary for you to even be considered for Stanford.

Now that we’re done with that, let’s get into the formalities and what are the things that you will need to get into Stanford.

What does Stanford Admission Committee Look For?

#3 Understand what Stanford wants!

Admission officers at Stanford are trying to figure out:

1) Are you likely to have a big impact on the world

2) Will you have a positive impact on the Stanford community (other students, etc)

how to get into Stanford from India

Which things indicate to Stanford that I’ll have a positive impact on the world and Stanford?

Seek to demonstrate:

a) Intellectual Vitality (roughly = taking significant responsibility for your own learning process, and/or learning about things that you truly care about in a mature way)

b) Purpose, Passion, and Meaning

c) Challenges Met & Overcome

d) Character

e) Leadership

Also, curiosity, energy, independent thought, independent action, intelligence, ability to get things done/solve problems/make useful things/create value. See below for how to demonstrate this — the short of it is: “use stories/data/objective and contextualized facts”.

What does it mean to add value to the Stanford community? A great proxy: “is this someone who would be super fun to sit next to at breakfast and is this someone I could have a fascinating conversation with?

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#4 SAT/ACT scores

SAT/ACT scores aren’t the only thing they look at but mark the words here, they do have a close look at it. To even be considered for Stanford, having a spectacular SAT/ACT score is important and completely uncompromisable as stated previously.

To even be considered for Stanford your SAT score must be at least 1420 or more or the ACT score must be a 32 or more, and if your scores are any lower than these numbers mentioned above, they won’t even have a look at your application so you better start finding other facets of your hobbies which could potentially be highly impressive to the Stanford admissions committee!

On the flip side, if your scores are higher than these numbers, it’s time to focus on other aspects of yourself that will determine your admission into Stanford for UG.

#5 High School GPA

Stanford doesn’t really have a set-in-stone GPA requirement for its students. Your high school GPA could be anything and Stanford wouldn’t care less unless you have failed the class. However, the estimated high school GPA required to get into Stanford lies anywhere between 4.2 to 3.7.

#6 Extracurricular Activites

Admission officers look at extra-curricular from a different lens. Every college needs to have a sports team, need to have an editorial staff, need to have event volunteers, need to have musicians, need to have debate team, etc.

As they build the class out, they look at admitting students who are interested in these extra-curricular and also have experience. As a student, follow your interest but some activities may be highly competitive and some may not.

For any activity you pursue, you just need to show your “spike” in it so some of the top colleges think about you when they are looking at the diversity of the admitted pool. Read why extracurriculars are not extra for college admissions.

#7 Leadership and Community Service

Every College likes to have students who are “good citizens” and want to do good. Leadership and community service is your avenue to show them how you have made a difference and how you plan to be a good community citizen.

Starting non-profits is a great way to achieve this. However, many students try to check this off on the list by doing a few weeks’ work. But, that is not good enough to impress the admission teams at the top colleges.

You should show them your commitment through involvement over years or by meaningful participation and results. Read Why is Community Service so Important for College Admissions?

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Watch the following video – How Sandip Got Admits from Harvard, Yale, and Stanford

#8 Breakthrough Application and Compelling Essays

Given that you have all the things required by Stanford, you must have a flawless Stanford application. Prepare an application that is specifically only for Stanford. After all, it’s one-of-a-kind elite and prestigious colleges out there.

Make sure that you are updated on the application process and all the deadlines. Apply before the deadlines and prepare for everything that you’ll need to apply for Stanford beforehand, from transcripts to grade cards and all the translations of it in case it’s not in English.

Lastly, when you’re done with all the formalities, write a compelling college essay that’ll show the admissions committee that you’re worth it. Be humble, kind, yet don’t forget to humbly mention your achievements and all of the experiences you’ve had in life. Do not fake it, it’s important to maintain transparency in this case.

#9 Strong Recommendations

The Letter of Recommendation or LOR allows the admission officer in getting a comprehensive insight into your candidature for admission in a specific course. You will require at least two LORs from teachers to apply to Stanford.

Need Personalized Guidance

Speak with a College Admissions Counsellor

#10 Optional – Portfolio

If you are applying for arts, you can submit the Arts Portfolio to highlight extraordinary talent. Applicants must submit their application and Arts Portfolio by an earlier deadline.

Checklist for Stanford Application

  • Coalition Application  or Common Application 
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee or fee waiver request
  • ACT or SAT test scores (refer to testing for score reporting policies)
  • School Report and counselor letter of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s) or academic results
  • Letters of recommendation from two teachers
  • Midyear transcript (by February 15)


Related Articles:

How to Get into Ivy League and Elite Colleges

How to Get into Harvard from India

Navigating through the US College Admission Process

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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