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I'm a rising sophmore and my dream school is Stanford. I'm wondering what I can do to stand out when I apply?
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I know that even if I had a perfect GPA, good extracurriculars, and did volunteer work that I still don't have an amazing chance of getting in. Basically even if I was the perfect student I could still not get in. I also know that a lot of students applying to Stanford all have these things, so I was wondering if anyone knows what I could do to make myself stand out?

stanford
admissions
preparation
sophomore

3 answers

answered on
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hey! rising junior here. here’s my advice:

1) 1/3 of applicants to HYPSM have a perfect 4.0UW, 1600/36. that will not make you stand out. you just need to be above the “cutoff” which i believe is a 1530-1540 and 3.9 for Stanford and you’ll be fine. having anything higher doesn’t really boost your application cause you just need to be “good enough” to pass their standards in that regard

2) the biggest misconception is that doing random volunteering to amass a large number of hours is impressive. it’s not, especially if you’re doing menial work like shelving books or tutoring or working in a community garden.

please read this guide; it’s so helpful to determine which activities are a waste of your time. https://youngprodigy.com/ultimate-guide-ivy-league/ basically it says sports/music aren’t the way to go unless you’re gonna go all-regional, all-state or all-national, volunteering has to be highly specific and focused on an organization that has tangible, high impact, and don’t do things that “sound good” cause colleges will call it out as bs.

3) pursue activities that match your major, you’re passionate about, can have a tangible impact in (whether it’s thru founding a club/organization, winning awards, being a leader/officer, etc), and showcase your strengths. they should be ones which you have a high personal involvement and also are a leader/main contributor and are in them for a while

4) don’t join every club or every honor society you get into; they don’t count for much anymore and will distract/take time away from more impactful or meaningful activities. don’t spread yourself out too thin; its better to have high positions in only a few than to be just a member in a lot of clubs

5) reminder you’re gonna take your standardized tests end of 10th grade or beginning of 11th so you have time to prep :)

this is also helpful for SAT/ACT prep: https://u.pcloud.link/publink/show?code=XZJkUu7ZCcvKtKINDXBfRymGnQpDCRkfBeWV

if you need anything else comment! hope it helps :,)

I'd suggest still doing music/sports if you like them... don't quit activities to look good on college apps. That being said, if you hate being in orchestra or being on the football team, don't do it. Do what you like... one of my biggest regrets as a rising senior was quitting GSA to make room for NHS... don't do things because they look good. My two cents :)
ooh yes totally agree. i just meant it in a way whereas if you’re solely doing music/sports to make you stand out rather than cause you enjoy it you’re probably not gonna get much benefit out of it
answered on
4
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To stand out a Stanford, one area that many admissions experts talk about is Intellectual Vitality. Intellectual vitality is a unique category to Stanford. Harvard has something similar call Intellectual Curiosity. Specifically, IV is the following:

Intellectual Vitality

We want to see your commitment, dedication and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons; both in what you write about yourself and in what others write on your behalf. We want to see the kind of curiosity and enthusiasm that will allow you to spark a lively discussion in a freshman seminar and continue the conversation at a dinner table. We want to see the energy and depth of commitment you will bring to your endeavors, whether that means in a research lab, as part of a community organization, during a performance or on an athletic field. We want to see the initiative with which you seek out opportunities and expand your perspective.

What this means is that you have to communicate, express and show evidence that you have a love of learning and are motivated not by grades, stats, peer competition but by the notion of self-discovery to acquire more knowledge for the sake of it.

This is something that is not taught in K-12 Public or Private schools and something that differentiates and exceptional student of learning versus someone that checks off all the right boxes for to sole purpose of getting into Stanford. Those students are the "grinders", the "plodders", the "flexers" that look at Stanford as the brass ring, not the entry door into an academician world of wonder.

Stanford has a supplemental essay for IV. Prompt: Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development (250 words).

I hope this clarifies things for you and I wish you all the best.

answered on
-3
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Essays/Personal statement and to a lesser extent a LoR.

If you take a stereotypical ivy caliber application all writing in the application is great but unique is not all that common. You need AOs to want you to get in and an essay/writing is the best way. They say I want cp to get in bcuz blah blah. And as Stanford if I remember correctly is by comittee you get someone who is on the comitee to advocate for you.

As a related note have a cohesive theme in your application such as involved in community and make that your god. You essentially advertise yourself as x thing/skill and that makes you memorable (you can likely get advocated for as they remember you and can remember their opinion that you can do well as Stanford) and unique (refer back to memorable)

Hope this helps and comment if you need clarification.

I’m not an AO but with the articles I’ve read this seems to be how admissions work at Ivy caliber schools.