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. Min: 100 / Max: 250
In most cases, students write about an idea or experience that is closely related to their intended field of study. This can work, but it’s not the only way to go about answering this question. In fact, many successful students write about experiences or ideas from one subject that have influenced their thinking or views on another.
The key here is to demonstrate that you would be a good fit on campus by showing that you see the value in the pursuit of knowledge. The topic itself is not as important as showing what you have done with the information or idea you discuss.
I can’t help but be filled with excitement and uncertainty when I think about extending the human lifespan through medical progress—a concept that spans both classical and contemporary history.
In the 20th century, antibiotics revolutionized healthcare, significantly increasing average lifespans by combating previously lethal infections. Similarly, vaccines have curbed the impact of deadly diseases, exemplified by the eradication of smallpox and ongoing efforts against diseases like polio and coronavirus.
In the modern era, scientific strides continue to push boundaries. Gene editing technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 offer possibilities for combating genetic disorders and age-related illnesses, potentially further extending healthy lifespans.
However, amidst these advancements there remain questions not only about the science itself, which hinges on complex factors ranging from genetically influenced molecular processes to environmental factors, but also about the morality of extending life. While research points to effective methods, unforeseen consequences will undoubtedly arise, further highlighting the delicate balance between extending life and maintaining its quality.
It’s precisely this quandary that I’m eager to explore through interdisciplinary collaborations that integrate fields such as biology, data science, and ethics. Examining centenarians, studying societies with exceptional longevity, and considering social attitudes toward aging are all essential if we aim to form holistic approaches to aging.
Ultimately, the quest to extend our lifespan exemplifies both the triumphs and uncertainties of scientific progress. I am relentlessly curious about this topic, and can’t wait to study it alongside others who share my passion.
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 – get to know you better. Min: 100 / Max: 250
This question almost always gets a love-hate response. If you’ve written many letters in your life, you may feel comfortable writing this one, but there are a number of ways to write an impactful letter. The first tip we suggest is to start by writing your letter by hand. This will help you get out of your academic mindset and into letter-writing mode.
The first thing to know is that the response should be formatted like an actual letter. The second is that it should give a sneak peek into what it would be like to live with you and to be your friend. Remember not just to tell, but to show us how your personality may play out in a dorm room, a classroom, or in a budding friendship. Keep the focus of the letter on yourself and try to share aspects of your personality and character that can’t be found anywhere else on your application. Have fun with it!
Right now we’re strangers, but that will inevitably change in the not-too-distant future. In truth, now that I know of your existence, I’m genuinely eager to get to know you. I guess there is no time like the present, so I’ll take the first leap and introduce myself.
I’m from a small town outside of Seattle called Bellingham. It’s a nice place to grow up—towering trees, a view of the Puget Sound, and a park in every subdivision that starts with the same letter as each of the streets (Butterfly Park in the B-neighborhood isn’t known for its butterflies). Anyway, if you stare long enough at the sound, you may see an Orca—or at least that’s what I’m told.
The truth is that I don’t know that much about Bellingham because I’m the only one in my family that was born here. There are no time-honored traditions in my family. No local knowledge that has been passed from generation to generation. My family is small, and those that I do know are spread out across the country. All this to say that I cherish the close relationships that I have—my dear friends have become like family to me, and I look forward to expanding my “chosen family” during this new chapter in college.
A friend once told me: there will always be an unimaginable distance between two people. Don’t let that stop you.
I’m glad I finally had the courage to follow their advice.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Please describe what aspects of your life experiences, interests and character would help you make a distinctive contribution as an undergraduate to Stanford University. Min: 100 / Max: 250
While you have likely spent a great deal of time in your essays discussing the ways in which a Stanford education will enrich your life, this is your opportunity to discuss what you will bring to the campus community as a student. The prompt is broad by design, allowing you to choose from a myriad of personal attributes—from experiences to interests to unique qualities. It is your job to get specific—showcase something about yourself that is not only unique to the essence of who you are, but that also aligns with Stanford’s institutional values. Stanford’s vision incorporates three primary themes: sustaining life on earth, accelerating solutions for humanity, catalyzing discovery in every field, and preparing citizens and leaders. While these are lofty ideals, you can demonstrate small ways in which you will contribute to and embody these values as a Stanford student.
Growing up in a Reform Jewish household, I’ve grappled with the complicated interplay of religion, faith, and personal discovery. This ongoing journey allows me to provide a distinct offer to the Stanford community: I am still wrestling with my views, and expect to for the rest of my life, but I welcome anyone to join me in conversation to discuss our beliefs, identities, and questions about the world.
I am grateful to Judaism for nurturing a culture of inquiry and curiosity that has equipped me to reflect on complex ideas. This exposure has helped me foster dialogues within diverse communities and enable meaningful exchanges that enrich understanding of one another.
Beyond sparking conversation, I have a strong commitment to social justice and community service, and I love connecting with others who share those passions—whether or not that is guided by the principle of Tikkun Olam. It’s deeply satisfying to know others who value volunteer work and advocacy no matter where that passion stems from.
My upbringing has taught me an appreciation for the balance between innovation and tradition. This worldview propels me to look for interdisciplinary ways to approach challenges and to leave no stone unturned when searching for answers.
Judaism has helped me form a unique understanding of religion, a commitment to social impact, and an eagerness to bridge divides. I know that Stanford is a wonderful place for me to share these parts of my identity and foster their growth.
What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? Min: 3 / Max: 50
Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into a trap when answering this question. The first trap is picking an incredibly vast, yet vague issue that sounds a lot like a “Miss America” response. (Think world hunger, terrorism, etc.) Another trap is being too nearsighted and writing about an issue that is troubling in your own community, but doesn’t resonate with others. It’s important to find the middle ground and talk about an issue that is important to you, can tell the reader something about your view of the world, and demonstrates maturity. Remember you are NOT asked to talk about a solution, so focus on the issue and why it’s particularly challenging.
The hardest part is narrowing down the most significant challenge from the many options you have. Once you feel as though you’ve come up with a thought-provoking answer, you have a chance, albeit a short one, to express your opinion and defend it.
If you choose to talk about systemic racism in the United States, won’t you seem naive for ignoring the catastrophic effects of climate change? Well, not exactly. Stanford is aware that you don’t have the space to acknowledge other challenges in just 50 words, so the best thing is to accept your limitations and use them to your advantage. This means you don’t need to include any qualifiers like “Society suffers from issues such as … yet I find … to be the single greatest challenge we face.” Make a stand and stick by it.
If you feel that your response is polarizing, keep in mind that that is not necessarily a bad thing. Societal issues are polarizing topics, and even your readers will likely disagree about the single greatest challenge the world faces today. That does not mean that you have free reign to be offensive or off-putting, but remember that Stanford welcomes and supports a diverse range of opinions. However, it’s likely other applicants will write about a similar challenge, so try to stand out!
Society faces the dilemma of achieving equity within the framework of capitalism. Striking the delicate balance between economic growth and a fair distribution of resources is one of our era’s great dilemmas; achieving an equitable future that is prosperous and sustainable becomes more complex as climate change becomes more severe.
How did you spend your last two summers? Min: 3 / Max: 50
This is a chance for you to elaborate on extracurriculars. The best answers don’t detail entire summers or provide program descriptions. Instead, they feature the few most memorable things an applicant did while away from school. If you had a less structured summer, you should talk about a trip, a friendship, a skill, etc., that has had an impact on who you are.
Last summer, I completed a Duke biomedical engineering program focused on human-centered design. I learned CAD and how to prototype and evaluate concepts using HCD principles. The prior summer, I trained for a marathon, shadowed a Stryker device rep at surgery centers, and studied Spanish at a community college.
What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? Min: 3 / Max: 50
Avoid cliches such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the moon landing at all costs. Be unique. Tell the reader about a time period or event they may not be familiar with, and explain why it’s cool in your opinion. This is a chance to show the reader your personality, not that you did your homework. Therefore, it’s best if the event is related to one of your academic interests!
I wish I had witnessed the first successful heart transplant performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in 1967. This historic moment revolutionized medicine by ushering in a new era of organ transplantation, advancing the possibilities of life saving surgeries, and underscoring the potential of medicine to reshape human health and longevity.
Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family. Min: 3 / Max: 50
This is a space to talk about a meaningful experience you’ve had or a community you’ve cherished being a part of. It can be the place to elaborate on the part-time job you’ve had throughout high school (any job counts, even if it’s flipping burgers or tutoring kids in your neighborhood). However, feel to get personal and talk about roles and responsibilities you’ve had within your family. Remember, there is space for only 50 words, so be brief but thorough!
During junior fall, I designed a robot that could delicately toss and catch an egg in the same receptacle. This was an exceptional challenge that required creativity, precision, and persistence. Successfully completing the project has given me the confidence and inspiration to pursue a career in biomedical design.
List five things that are important to you. Min: 3 / Max: 50
This prompt is an opportunity to not only share something about yourself through the things you value, but also to showcase your creativity in your response. The format of this prompt is atypical and open-ended, which provides students with the freedom to interpret the question in their own way. Your response could include something as concrete as a family heirloom you cherish or as abstract as a quality you value in the people you surround yourself with.
My design notebook
An antique telescope gifted by my grandfather
Family dinner time
Immersing myself in nature’s beauty