How to Write the Stanford University Supplemental Essays 2020-2021

Recorded Tuesday, October 6 at 11:30 PM

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About this livestream

School information

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Learn how to write an awesome essay for your Stanford application.

Elias Miller will provide an in-depth breakdown of each of the Stanford essay prompts, discussing how to write a great essay in response to each one. He'll also share his take on the essays and topics you shouldn't write about for each prompt.

Finally, he'll open up the floor for a Q&A session, where he'll answer any and all questions about the Stanford essays.

School information

Stanford University

Stanford, CA
Your host

Undergrad College: Harvard University '17

Major: Music

Graduate College: University of Michigan, M.M.

Work Experience: Now in my fourth year at CollegeVine, I have helped dozens of students gain acceptance to their top-choice schools and have also advised and mentored thousands more through my livestreams. Apart from my work at CV, I am also a professional conductor and a multi-instrumentalist. I currently serve as the music director of the Apollo Ensemble of Boston, and I have led symphonic concerts and operatic productions throughout the United States.

My Admissions Story: Initially interested in pursuing a career as a performing cellist, I applied almost exclusively to music schools with dual and double degree options and ultimately enrolled in the Tufts University/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program. Unhappy with the combined program and worried I'd never feel like I was fully a student at either school, I logged back into in October of my freshman year. I can't say I went about the transfer process in the smartest way (I only applied to two schools!), but Harvard miraculously accepted me (or 'excepted me' as I wrote in a celebratory Facebook post that day - no one ever let me live that one down), and the rest was history.

Audience questions

These are questions from the audience that we had time to answer during the live session. If you have any other questions, you can request an answer from Elias and other CollegeVine experts in an upcoming livestream or on the Q&A Forum anytime.
27:16@anonymous:If we do have a few extra words left at the end, what would be wrong with writing a title? I feel like not many people add titles, so couldn't that make your application stand out more?
28:40@anonymous:Is it alright to write a supplement expanding on one of the activities in your activities chart?
28:56@anonymous:How do you know if your essay is good?
30:16@anonymous:how much weightage is given to essays, especially with test option scenario?
31:29@anonymous:As a hook to grab reader's attention, can we use some opening statement to try to shock the reader? Are admission officers suspected to be shocked to they all have very thick skin already?
32:45@anonymous:When certain essays are optional, is it ok to not answer them if I don't have anything to write about?
33:47@anonymous:Should the short questions be written in essay format? Or should we answer them directly.
34:30@KatieR:what is the weight of supplemental essays compared to PIQs?
34:47@anonymous:Is it fine if some of the topics of my essays connect with each other?
35:10@epicgamer:How are you tonight?
45:45@KatieR:If we wrote another essay about a summer activity, how would we navigate writing about it in this question?
46:13@anonymous:Does collegevine offer resources for non-traditional students such as students that joined the military after high school before pursuing higher education? I believe there are many students applying to college that have high aspirations but do not fit the cookie cutter student applicant that most companies cater to
48:05@anonymous:how important are extracurriculars?
49:52@anonymous:For extracurricular activities, is it time over impact or impact over time?
50:41@anonymous:How can you submit an essay for the live essay review?
51:52@anonymous:MLK's Speech, The Bringing down of the Berlin Wall, and the end of WWII?
59:54@anonymous:Stanford encourages to submit art portfolio even for non-art majors. I am an AP art student. Is it worth to send art portfolio to increase admission chances?
62:01@anonymous:Hey Elias, how can we submit our profile for the upcoming live profile review session?
64:12@pab:Does stanford require/consider a resume?
65:20@anonymous:Would it be considered as a red flag if I didn’t take a few AP exams (but made up for this by taking higher level courses at local colleges and received an A)?
66:26@anonymous:Does Stanford ask about activities that you did that were cancelled because of COVID?
66:53@anonymous:What’s your advice for the describe yourself in 5 words section?
68:08@anonymous:five words short answer was removed this year?
68:20@itzara:would you be able to post this video for later reference?
68:42@anonymous:Will AO's read our essays carefully or simply skim them?
69:22@Garnish:Some schools offer lots of spots for rec letters. Would it hurt to send the maximum amount of letters the college allows?
70:20@mayadavis168:Do AO read additional information before the rest of the application?
77:14@anonymous:Can competition be an idea? or is too broad?
77:35@anonymous:Would it be ok to talk about an experience that happened before high school?
78:22@anonymous:How important is the TOEFL for internationals?
78:26@anonymous:Do you recommend getting rec letters from teachers in your future field? Or a diverse set of recommendation letters? (if that makes sense)
78:57@anonymous:Is only one strong essay isufficient for Stanford? So all other essays could be average/mundane? I'm asking because only very good and creative write can write so many good essays... and most 17-years old are not.
80:28@anonymous:What if we weren't able to take SAT because no test centers are open?
81:06@anonymous:Can I write about exploring the Stanford's first google server for this question?
90:00@anonymous:Does roommate essay have to written as a direct speach to imaginary roommate or it could be some story from the past?
90:27@adiabarnes:In a personal essay, is it better to discuss my "one" low grade on my transcript or simply do not mention it at all?
91:09@anonymous:does demonstrated interest help ..and how to show if yes
92:30@anonymous:can we add extra activities that didn't fit in the activity list in the additional info section?
92:40@anonymous:Random question: what do you consider a “low grade”
93:43@anonymous:Can we just bullet our extra extracurriculars?
93:56@anonymous:Is writing a generic topic (i.e. computer science) for essay topics bad?
94:30@TruongUng:How can we turn in our essays?
95:12@anonymous:Is there something called being too honest in your essays?
95:45@anonymous:Is developing an interest in my major through multiple experiences a good topic for short essay 1?
96:27@anonymous:Is it better to have a sad or funny essays?
97:04@anonymous:Is it true that we should write our common app essay about something other than our intended major?
98:03@anonymous:Should we try to weave in information we have learned by researching Stanford in supplemental essays like the "roomie" one or should it really just be another way for the Stanford AO to get to know us better?
101:13@TruongUng:How can we turn in our essays, can we turn it in at the same time as our application?
101:19@anonymous:I heard that Stanford EA isn’t helpful for some applicants because legacies and athletes fill up the spots for other “normal” applicants. Is that true and in that case would it be better to apply RD?
102:52@anonymous:Do we need to have a distinct theme in our application?
104:10@anonymous:Currently, in coalition, the stanford application fee is show as $0 but according to website it should be $90?
104:37@anonymous:I really wanted to take a specific AP this year, but my other classes wouldn't let it fit into the schedule, how can I overcome this?
105:10@anonymous:What do you think about applying to your dream school one year before your expected graduation year?
105:48@anonymous:How can we boost our resume if we don't have a 4.0?
107:37@MissBunny:What was the percentage of students who took a gap year this year? Will it affect admissions tis year?
108:28@adiabarnes:I am still trying to determine which of three majors I would like to pursue, any suggestions on how I can better focus my choice for essay writing purposes?
109:21@MissBunny:Did a lot of accepted students take a gap year this year?
109:49@anonymous:I have a similar question, how can I improve my resume if my GPA is close to a 4.0?
110:06@anonymous:What is the best number of leadership positions to have on your college resume?
110:56@itzara:What if I don't know what major I want to study? What should I write for essays that ask about that?
111:36@anonymous:Can we write about our families (or a specific person in our family) in the meaningful question? or is that too simple/cliche?
112:01@anonymous:Does the diff between a bronze national award and a silver national award matter?
112:34@anonymous:I have a question for my little brother, is it smart for him to do Pre- AP classes in middle to boost his college resume?
113:14@anonymous:Realistically, how screwed am I if I have a 3.4 unweighted GPA?
114:09@KatieR:If I want to be an independent major (create my own major) would I apply to schools as undecided? (I want to major in astrobiology, which isn't offered at most schools, so I would have to "create" this major)
115:37@anonymous:if we meet all the academic credentials (near/above 75%) should we still take risks in our essays and really try to stand out? Or should we focus on good responses?
117:11@anonymous:Does Stanford and other top tier schools only look at the unweighted GPA? Or do they look at both the weighted GPA and the unweighted GPA?
117:28@anonymous:do you know how long the live profile/essay sessions are?
117:38@adiabarnes:Do you have essay templates?
117:49@BrookeC:does the college recalculate the gpa if college courses were taken while in high school?
118:10@juanaderdoy:If my school only does unweighted GPA is there a way to calculate my weighted GPA?


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