What should I do now to get into Stanford in the future?
I am having some trouble figuring out what the best extracurricular things I can do to get into Stanford are. My school doesn’t have honors society’s and I’m not sure how to really make myself seem worthy for the school. I’m only a sophomore but I know I need to start now. Everyone always seems to have done some big extravagant thing and I don’t even know where to find stuff like it to do. Please help
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Hi! I'm not an expert -- merely a senior applying to colleges now -- but I can share my two cents about what seems to work in my experience. First, it doesn't denote here what your passions are or what area you might be looking to study at Stanford, but I would suggest making a list of a few things that drive YOU. Don't think about what Stanford wants quite yet -- they will see right through it if you do things just for the sake of getting into a school. Are you a STEM kid? A liberal arts kid? A performing arts kid?
Second, join a FEW (or stay in) extracurriculars that you care about. As you progress through high school, try to gain leadership positions within those clubs. This can be as simple as participating in your drama department -- that's what I did! Better yet, take each opportunity you have with dignity and make the best out of it. For instance, I used to get a lot of understudy roles, and it can be disheartening to not get the leads you go for. However, I discovered upon writing my college application essays that I could actually write a lot more about being an understudy than any lead role I got -- simply because it took initiative, grit, hard work, and a clever new interpretation of the roles I understudied for. It made me sound like someone who works hard and doesn't always get the most glamorous rewards, but will always be a reliable backbone. I hope that anecdote helped to get the point across that really any extracurricular and any position within that extracurricular will be valuable if you give 110%.
The third thing I'd recommend -- and I know you've heard this a lot -- is to start your own initiative of some sort. It doesn't have to be started with the idea that it will raise over $100k or catch the attention of GMA. Even a club for an underrepresented community or a hobby that you and some friends enjoy can go a long way. It's relatively easy to start a club at most schools -- get an adviser who is sympathetic to the material and gather some interest. You could be starting something that stays in your school for years after you graduate. Once you start fine-tuning your club, do community service with it! If you're a performance-based group, perform in old folks' homes (or, in present circumstances, virtually perform)! If it's a writing club, volunteer to edit college essays for seniors and juniors! Culture-based clubs can speak at local middle or elementary schools to empower students in that demographic. There's no limit to what you can do. The main thing, however, is being passionate about what you do. If you don't care about your initiative or community, then don't put it on your application. Stanford can tell.
You're only a sophomore -- I would say focus on strong academics and maybe picking up a few extra ECs that mean a lot to YOU. Explore, but hone in on a passion within your exploration. The fact that you're focusing on college now says a lot about your work ethic and motivation, and it's a good sign. You got this :)
For competitive schools like Stanford, you have to distinguish yourself from other students. Instead of doing what most people believe you should do to get into good schools, like doing a sport or simply being a member of a club, take your interests into account and find some way to develop these into impressive extracurriculars. For example, you can start by being the founder and president of a club and working your way up to making it an initiative or organization that opens several chapters around the county, state, or even nationwide. If you are interested in business, you can also look at start-up competitions or connect with professionals in the field through LinkedIn. No matter what you are interested in, try to find a way to grow your passion and take it to the next level.
Competitive schools often admit students who have "hard-spikes" in their extracurriculars instead of "soft-spikes" or being well-rounded. Rather than being a jack of all trades, try to find one or two things that you are very interested in. The more unique, the better, but you can always take a general interest and make it special and expand it. Remember to tie these extracurriculars into how you want to present yourself to schools and what you want them to take away from your application.
Do not be afraid of looking for resources and opportunities on your own since most activities that your school may offer may not be enough to show that you are different from other students. If you are interested in science, try contacting professors for research. If you have a special skill that can be tested in competitions, try entering some, or maybe start your own competition series through an organization for people with a similar interest.
Look at articles and YouTube videos to get an idea of what students have done in the past to get into good schools. This is especially helpful since it provides you with plenty of examples and shows you how they were able to complete these.
Can you provide me with some more details on your interests? I may be able to offer a better answer based on what you hope to pursue in college or what some of your hobbies currently are.
In the meantime, check out this article for more ideas: