Getting into Stanford

Disclaimer: There is no formula or secret sauce to getting into top colleges. Crimson knows that everyone is different, and helps every student reach their own potential through bespoke service offerings.

Key Stanford Facts:

SAT Scores needed

Required: 1550 Bare Minimum 1450 GPA expectation: 4.0+ (Top of Class)

Skills needed:

  • Strong leadership displayed through extracurricular activities
  • A clear passion and desire to learn and grow
  • Community involvement
  • Uniqueness! Stanford wants students who will contribute something different to the college.

Acceptance rate:


QS World University Rankings:


US News ranking:

5 (tied)

Difficulty ranking:

Extremely high!

Admissions requirements:

  • High school transcript
  • An ACT or SAT score
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Application essay
  • Extracurricular activities

If you'd like one of our Academic Advisors to personally assess your candidacy to Stanford University, you can apply for a free one-on-one consultation today!

A little more about Stanford

In 2017, Stanford received an astounding 44,073 applications to enter the class of 2021. Of that, just 2,050 gained admission. That’s a very, very slender admission rate of 4.65%, a smaller rate than any of the Ivy Leagues!

So, with 44,072 other people applying, how do you stand out at Stanford?

Stanford reviews each application in search of academic excellence, intellectual vitality and personality while considering personal context. ‘Personality’ is where you can have the biggest impact on admissions officers as it gives them an insight into who you are as a person and what you can bring to the campus.

But firstly, let’s take a look at academic excellence.

Your grades are the element of your application that Stanford holds in highest regard, and as you’ll see, the standard of past application pools reflects this.

In 2017, the average SAT score for incoming students at Stanford was 1520. Given the top 10% of students score 1340+, a score of 1520 is remarkably high! This is one of the reasons why Stanford’s acceptance rate is so low – it only accepts the best of the best.

As for your high school GPA, you’ll want to be aiming for a very high mark, too, and pushing for the top of your class. In order to gain admission into Stanford, you’ll need to get as close to the elusive 4.0 as possible.

When it comes to intellectual vitality, Stanford wants to be able to see what you’re passionate about on your application. In particular, they want to see that you care about pursuing your passions and are eager to learn! You can show this in your admissions essays or display it in your extracurriculars by making it clear that you have distinct passions and are willing and able to follow through on them with actions.

Now to the section that will really separate your application from the chasing peloton: personality and personal context. Now this covers a number of areas of your application including your needs, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background, yet above all else, it is an assessment of who you are as a person and what you can bring to the college once admitted. This is your time to shine and show admissions officers who you really are and why denying you entrance into their college would be a huge mistake.

Because above all else, colleges are looking for unique individuals, just like you, to make their campus a vibrant, exciting, and inspiring place!

A great place to stand out is through your college essays and extracurricular activities.

In your essay, you want to make it clear to admissions officers who you are as a person by sharing the ideas and interests that motivate you. The strongest essays are those where the student's genuine voice stands out. Try to resist the urge to say what you think Stanford wants to hear; this will leave your essay left in a pile of others just like it. Be you and stand out, it’s as simple as that!

As for displaying your extracurriculars, you want to do the same thing. Avoid talking about activities just because you can. Instead, try to display an exceptional depth of experience in one or two activities, as this will show a more cohesive “narrative” than if your jam pack your application with 15 smaller activities.

All of this information can be really hard to remember, especially when you’re still caught up with everything that’s going on in high school. To help you out and in order to give yourself the best opportunity to stand out amongst the thousands upon thousands of other Stanford applicants, speak to a Crimson Academic Advisor who has successfully navigated the application pathway many times before.

Can you get into Stanford?