How To Get Into Stanford: Crafting A Successful Application

18/04/202329 minute read
How To Get Into Stanford: Crafting A Successful Application

Stanford is one of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the world. It’s renowned for its cutting-edge research, exceptional faculty, and innovative programs. As such, earning the highly coveted acceptance letter to Stanford is challenging. It requires a combination of academic excellence, extracurricular accomplishments, personal character, and leadership skills.

For Bay Area sophomores and juniors who want to maximize their chances of getting into a top university like Stanford: We are hosting a FREE in-person event on January 28, 2023 in Mountain View, CA. Register here!

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

In this article, we will explore some key factors that can help you succeed in the admissions process and gain acceptance to one of the most esteemed institutions of higher learning in the world.

How hard is it to get into Stanford?

According to Stanford’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
  • A strong sense of purpose
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • A demonstrated commitment to making a positive impact in the world.

So it's important to keep in mind that getting into Stanford is not just about achieving high test scores or having a perfect GPA. It also requires showcasing your unique qualities and experiences 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?

1. Academic rigor

Stanford seeks students who have excelled academically and have challenged themselves by taking rigorous coursework. This includes Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and honors classes. When evaluating academic excellence, admissions officers consider factors like grades, test scores, and class rank.

2. Intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity is highly valued at Stanford because it’s a key driver of innovation and creativity. Intellectually curious students are more likely to:

  • Think outside the box
  • Challenge existing ideas and conventions
  • 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. They are also more likely to have a broad range of interests and experiences. These qualities are important for success in a rapidly changing and complex world!

3. Leadership and initiative

Stanford University values leadership and initiative 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.

4. 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, diverse perspectives are highly valued because they bring new ideas to the academic community.

Students from different backgrounds are more likely to have different approaches to problem-solving. This can lead to more innovative and effective solutions to complex issues.

5. Achievements beyond the classroom

Stanford University values achievements beyond the classroom 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 the classroom are more likely to have developed these skills — and to be better prepared for the challenges of the real world.

6. Personal qualities

To Stanford, personal qualities reflect a commitment to ethical and moral values. Students who show qualities like honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior are more likely to contribute to a positive academic community. They’re also more likely to make a meaningful impact on 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. This means a GPA of 3.96 or higher and scores in the 75th percentile.

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. (1) Stanford has even been known to reject around 70% of applicants with perfect test scores! (2)

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.

It’s not just about participating in as many extracurriculars as you can. Stanford seeks students who show leadership skills and the ability to positively impact their communities. 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

Your 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. But letters of recommendation can lend additional insight into an applicant's academic potential, personal character, and accomplishments that may not be evident from the other application materials.

Standardized Tests

According to Stanford's admissions statistics: for the class of 2022, the entering freshmen had SAT scores at the 25th and 75th percentiles. For the ACT Composite, the middle 50% of enrolled students earned 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. This means that if you apply early, you have a higher chance of getting accepted.

Why is that? The admissions committee has a smaller pool of applicants to choose from during the early round. This gives them more time to review each application carefully.

2. Score Higher Than Average SAT

A high SAT score can show that you’re ready to succeed in college and beyond. To increase your chances of getting accepted, aim to score higher than the average SAT score of admitted students at Stanford.

The average SAT score for admitted students at Stanford is around 1500 out of 1600. Scoring higher than this average can make you a more competitive candidate. High SAT scores can also qualify you for advanced courses, which can boost both academic opportunities and career prospects!

Helpful SAT resources

3. Write a Strong Essay

Admission essays are a crucial opportunity to show what makes you unique. They give the admissions committee insights into your personality and potential contributions to the university community.

To increase your chances of getting into Stanford, practice practice writing admission essays. Familiarize yourself with the essay prompts provided by Stanford University. Consider the questions and think about how you can use your experiences and perspectives to answer them.

Helpful essay resources

4. Have an Excellent GPA

GPA is one of the main indicators of academic achievement. It’s a critical factor in the admission process. Having a high GPA shows that you are capable of handling rigorous coursework. This can demonstrate your potential to succeed at Stanford University.

Helpful academic 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

Don’t just participate in your extracurricular activities — seek leadership positions. This can mean club president or sports team captain. It can also mean spearheading your own project.

If you don't play sports, volunteer in your community long-term to make a positive impact and show 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 leadership resources

6. Attend Our IN-PERSON Event “How to Get Accepted to a Top University” in Mountain View, CA on January 28, 2024!

In the heart of Silicon Valley, just minutes from Stanford’s campus, you’ll hear from Former Stanford and Johns Hopkins Admissions Officers about what it takes to get into the country’s top universities.

At this event, you will:

  • Find out what the most competitive colleges look for.
  • Learn how to strategically approach the application and weave a compelling narrative to set yourself apart.
  • Get an expert evaluations of how your candidacy measures up and what you can do to increase your odds getting into your dream school
  • Hear from Crimson’s CEO on current admissions trends

A Day in the Life: Stanford Student

Is Stanford right for you?

Stanford is an excellent school with countless academic and professional resources. In fact, US News & World Report ranked Stanford University 6th in their Best Colleges 2022 edition. Stanford tied for 3rd with the University of Cambridge in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

But it’s not for everyone! Don’t apply to Stanford just because of its elite name or its rankings. Stanford admissions can tell whether you’re passionate about the school or only applying because of the name. Choose Stanford because it speaks to you like no other school. Choose it because it offers the courses and programs you need to succeed in your future career.

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. And if you choose to apply to Stanford again, focus on improving the weaker aspects of your application so it’s stronger for next time!

Final Thoughts

Your reasons for choosing Stanford are unique. The admissions team is excited to learn about you through your application! So reflect on:

  • Your reasons for choosing Stanford
  • What you hope to gain from your experience at the school
  • How you’ll contribute to the campus community

Stanford enrolls students with diverse backgrounds, interests, and talents. If you’re hard-working, open-minded, and passionate about your interests, Stanford might be the perfect place for you.

While Stanford is tough to get into, you don’t have to go through the admissions process alone. Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company. We help students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities. In fact, Crimson Students are 4x more likely to be admitted to top universities like Stanford. Learn more through our Admissions Support program.

Introduction to Crimson Pathfinder


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.

Start Your Journey To Stanford Today!

Crimson students are up to 4x more likely to gain admission into Stanford! Book a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you get there!

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