How To Get Into Stanford: Crafting A Successful Application

22/12/202327 minute read
How To Get Into Stanford: Crafting A Successful Application

Stanford University is one of the most highly-ranked universities in the world, known for its cutting-edge research, exceptional faculty, and innovative programs. Gaining admission to such a competitive university can be challenging.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know to get into to Stanford - including acceptance rates, admissions requirements, and tips to maximize your chances of admission.

US News & World Report ranked Stanford University 3rd in their Best Colleges 2023 edition. Stanford tied for 5th with the University of Cambridge in the 2023 QS World University Rankings.

With an acceptance rate of less around 3%, the competition for a spot at Stanford University is fierce. However, with careful preparation, dedication, and a strong application, it is possible to increase your chances of getting into Stanford.

How hard is it to get into Stanford?

According to the university's admissions statistics, the acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 was only 3.68%, the lowest in the university's history. This means that out of over 55,471 applicants, only around 2,190 were offered admission.

It's worth noting that Stanford receives applications from some of the most talented and accomplished students from around the world.

The university looks for students with excellent academic records and a strong sense of purpose, intellectual curiosity, and a demonstrated commitment to making a positive impact in the world.

Therefore, it's important to keep in mind that getting into Stanford is not solely about achieving high test scores or having a perfect GPA.

It also requires showcasing your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations in your application and demonstrating how you can contribute to the Stanford community.

Stanford University Admission Rates
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Class of 202445,2272,3495.19%
Class of 202555,4712,1903.95%
Class of 202656,3782,0753.68%

“A purposeful university promotes excellence not as an end in itself, but as a means to promote its mission, which is to benefit society.”

- Marc Tessier-Lavigne Stanford President

What is Stanford looking for?

Stanford seeks students who have excelled academically and have challenged themselves by taking rigorous coursework, including Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and honors classes. When evaluating academic excellence, the university considers factors such as grades, test scores, and class rank.

1. Intellectual Curiosity

At Stanford University, intellectual curiosity is highly valued because it is a key driver of innovation and creativity.

Intellectually curious students are more likely to think outside the box, challenge existing ideas and conventions, and generate new and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Intellectual curiosity is a critical part of personal growth and development. Intellectually curious students are more likely to be open-minded, adaptable, and flexible and to have a broad range of interests and experiences. These qualities are important for success in a rapidly changing and complex world.

2. Leadership and Initiative

Leadership and initiative are highly valued at Stanford University because they are essential for achieving the university's mission of promoting positive social change and making a meaningful impact on society.

Students who are leaders and self-starters are more likely to take on challenging projects, to work collaboratively with others, and make a difference in their communities and in the world.

3. Unique and diverse perspectives

Stanford University values diversity in all its forms and seeks to build a community of students with a range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

At Stanford, unique and diverse perspectives are highly valued because they bring new ideas, insights, and perspectives to the academic community.

Students who come from different backgrounds and experiences are more likely to have different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions to complex issues.

4. Achievements beyond the classroom

Experiences and achievements beyond the classroom are highly valued at Stanford University because they provide students with opportunities to develop important skills such as leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Students who have taken on extracurricular activities, internships, community service, or other experiences outside of the classroom are more likely to have developed these skills and to be better prepared for the challenges of the real world.

5. Personal qualities

At Stanford, personal qualities are highly valued because they reflect a commitment to ethical and moral values.

Students who demonstrate qualities such as honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior are more likely to contribute to a positive academic community and to make a meaningful impact in the world.

How Crimson student Fresh got into Stanford!

What do you need to get into Stanford?

High School GPA

To have the best chance of being admitted to Stanford, applicants should aim for high academic achievements, with a GPA of 3.96 or higher and scores in the 75th percentile.

However, if your GPA is lower, you can compensate with higher test scores. Stanford looks for students who have near-perfect grades, as 58% of applicants to the class of 2022 had a GPA of 4.0 or higher.

GPA Score Range of Freshman Students At Stanford 2021/22
GPAPercent of Students
3.75 - 3.9919%
3.50 - 3.742.5%
3.25 - 3.491.6%
3.00 - 3.241.4%
2.50 - 2.990.3%

Extracurricular Activities

Stanford values students who are passionate about their interests and hobbies, so choose extracurricular activities that align with your passions and talents. Whether playing a musical instrument, volunteering in your community, or participating in a sports team, choose activities that genuinely interest you and showcase your strengths.

In addition, Stanford seeks students who have demonstrated leadership skills and the ability to positively impact their communities. Therefore, try to take on leadership roles in your extracurricular activities, such as serving as club president or organizing a community service project.

Letters of Recommendation

Obtaining two well-written letters of recommendation is an essential part of the application process at Stanford University. Often, students overlook the importance of letters of recommendation when sending in their applications.

However, letters of recommendation can provide additional insights into an applicant's academic potential, personal character, and accomplishments that may not be evident in other application materials.

Standardized Tests

According to Stanford's admissions statistics, for the class of 2022, the entering freshmen had scores at the 25th and 75th percentiles of SAT Math between 720-800 and SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing between 700-770. For the ACT Composite, the middle 50% of enrolled students received an average score of 31-35.

SAT Score Ranges of Stanford Students
Assessment25th Percentile75th Percentile
SAT Composite1,4701,560
SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing720770
SAT Math750800

Stanford Common Data Set 2021/22

ACT Score Ranges of Stanford Students
Assessment25th Percentile75th Percentile
ACT Composite3435
ACT Math3235
ACT English3536
ACT Writing3133

Stanford Common Data Set 2021/22

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How to increase your chances of getting into Stanford?

1. Apply Early

Stanford has a restrictive early action program. If you apply early, you will have a higher chance of getting accepted,It shows Stanford that they’re your top choice.

Additionally, the admissions committee has a smaller pool of applicants to choose from during the early round, so they have more time to review each application carefully.

This will give the admissions committee more time to consider your application. This is especially important if you have a strong academic record or unique accomplishments that you want to highlight in your application.

2. Score Well on Your SATs

A high SAT score can demonstrate your potential to succeed in college and beyond. Scoring higher than the average SAT score of admitted students at Stanford can increase your chances of getting accepted.

The average SAT score for admitted students at Stanford is around 1500 out of 1600, which means that scoring higher than this average can make you a more competitive candidate.

High SAT scores can also qualify you for advanced courses, which can be beneficial for both academic and career opportunities.

Helpful resources

3. Write a Strong Essay

Admission essays are a crucial component of the application process, as they provide the admissions committee with insights into your personality, character, and potential contributions to the university community.

Practicing writing admission essays can be beneficial in increasing your chances of getting into Stanford University. Familiarize yourself with the essay prompts provided by Stanford University.

Consider the questions asked and think about how you can use your experiences and perspectives to answer the questions.

Helpful resources

4. Have an Excellent GPA

GPA is one of the primary indicators of academic achievement and is considered a critical factor in the admission process.

Having a high GPA shows that you have a strong academic record and that you are capable of handling rigorous coursework. This can demonstrate your potential to succeed at Stanford University.

Helpful resources

  • If you want to add rigorous coursework to your academic profile, consider taking some Online AP Courses at Crimson Global Academy.
  • If you’re struggling to reach a GPA of 4.0, consider taking Online Tutoring with Harvard graduates who can help you reach your maximum academic potential.
  • Enroll in a pre-college summer program to help you get a head start on your college education.

5. Demonstrate Leadership

Seek leadership positions in your extracurricular activities, such as club president or sports team captain. This demonstrates your ability to take charge and lead a group.

If you don't play sports, volunteer in your community to make a positive impact and demonstrate your commitment to serving others.

This can also provide opportunities for leadership positions, such as organizing a community service event or leading a volunteer group.

Helpful resources

A Day in the Life: Stanford Student

Final Thoughts

Stanford is an excellent school with countless academic and professional resources. But it’s not for everyone. Don’t apply to Stanford because of its elite name or its rankings.

Stanford admissions can tell if you’re passionate about the school or only applying because of the name. Choose Stanford because it speaks to you like no other school and offers the courses and programs you need to succeed in your future career.

But, remember, only a small percentage of applicants get into Stanford. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted. Some of the world’s most brilliant and talented students do not get into this elite school. Consider a school in the Ivy League or one of the top schools in the University of California system.

Make sure you have a solid list of safety, target, and reach schools that fit your academic and career objectives. If you choose to apply to Stanford again, focus on improving the weaker aspects of your application so your application is stronger than the next time!

While Stanford is tough to get into, you don’t have to go through the admissions process alone. Our expert strategists specialize in helping students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities.

Crimson Students are 4x more likely to be admitted to top universities like Stanford. Learn more through our Admissions Support program.

What Makes Crimson Different


Are interviews required as part of the application process for Stanford University? 

Applications to Stanford University can be considered with or without an interview. 

When is the early application deadline for Stanford University? 

The early application deadline for Stanford University is November 1st. 

What is the application fee for Stanford University? 

Students can expect to pay a $90 nonrefundable application fee when applying to Stanford.

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