Update as of July 8th, 2015–Stanford has been using the same three short answer prompts since 2011, but this is no absolute guarantee that they will not change one or more of them this year. Feel free to read my posts on Stanford, but remember that until they go live officially ca. August 1st, with the opening of the Common App website for 2015-2016. Until then, or until I can confirm and post this year’s prompts separately, you should tread carefully. The Common App and other current prompts offer enough to do without risking wasted time in the event that, say, the Cardinal drops its letter to a roommate prompt. Okay, you have been warned–read on and click away to your heart’s content.
The Cardinal updated their application essay page on July 16th, 2013, by inserting the new Common Application essays and parameters, but still have the same supplemental essay prompts that they used last year . . . and the year before that. It’s deja-deja-vu again. At least Stanford’s supplemental prompts offer many applicants the latitude to write a more interesting essay than the Common App does–see my recent posts on the Common App for more on that, in the Archive.
I will post the Stanford Supplemental Essay prompts below this short introduction, and below those prompts, I will provide links to what I wrote about Stanford last year and related links with ideas and suggestions for essays and essay topics which would fit these prompts, which, in addition to the now infamous roommate letter prompt (Dude, a letter in this day and age?), ask you to address an intellectual topic and also to discuss something you care about. I will include below links to posts on how to write about intellectual experiences, in particular if these experiences involved a book, as well as links to posts on writing about problems (which could work if one of them is the something you care about). Be aware that if you are reading this post on my public site, The College App Jungle, not all of the information will be fully available. My private blog contains all material in full, available for a subscription of $15, good through April, 2014. See the bottom of this post for information on how to get a subscription.
I will add one more thing: I really like Stanford prompts 1 and 3, and I am going to be writing a long post soon on a topic that could be used for prompt 3, a problem that almost nobody writes about. Stay tuned.
And now: The game is afoot! On to the Stanford prompts for 2013-2014.
Stanford Essay Prompts
We want to hear your individual voice in your writing. Write essays that reflect who you are; use specific concrete details and write in a natural style. Begin work on these essays early, and feel free to ask your parents, teachers and friends to provide constructive feedback. Ask if the essay’s tone sounds like your voice. If those closest to you do not believe your essay captures who you are, we will not be able to recognize what is distinctive about you. While asking for feedback is suggested, do not enlist hired assistance in the writing of your essays.
The Stanford Writing Supplement Short Essays
Candidates respond to all three essay topics using at least 250 words, but not exceeding the space provided.
- Stanford students possess intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
- Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
- What matters to you, and why?
Note that, in recent years, the limit has been 2,000 characters, so a bit under 350 words. Pretty short, in other words, so you need to write efficiently. I would set 300 words as your target for a rough draft.
Writing to the Stanford Prompts. (This post was on the same topics, last year. Analyzes the prompts and some approaches to them)
Writing About an Intellectual Interest. (Includes link that introduces writing about books. This is an excerpt; part of this post is only available via paid subscription)
Writing about What Matters to You if What Matters to You Involves Saving Anything from a Nearby Tree to the World.
More Tips on Writing about What Matters to You if What Matters to You Involves Saving Anything from a Nearby Tree to the World.
Okay, this is not the ONLY way to write your Stanford (or any) roommate essay, but it is a GOOD way and it’s based on an essay that I think is GREAT. First, read the example essay, then we’ll talk about why it’s great and how she did it.
Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
Everybody has peculiarities that most people don’t know about. For example, I have a habit of pinching ear lobes. I also pour milk into my cereal, only to drain it out after soaking the cereal for a bit. Is that strange? Well, there’s more:
I have -2.75 vision but I hate wearing glasses because I feel confined and limited in my freedom to think. So you’ll see me squint quite often, trying to overcome my astigmatism--it’s not a death glare, I promise.
I’m also extremely tactile. I like to run my fingers over laser printing because I am amazed by my fingers’ ability to detect subtle impressions. This is why I hate wearing socks on carpet: my feet lose sensitivity. So I hope you don’t mind bare feet.
I have a fetish for things that smell nice, so I like to bury myself under fresh laundry just wheeled back from laundry room 8 (the one closest to our unit). I also alternate between three different shampoos just for the smell of it. So don’t be surprised if I ask to share our toiletry items; I’m just looking for variety.
Driving calms my nerves. Sometimes, my family and I go on midnight highway cruises during which we discuss weighty issues such as the reason people in our society can so adamantly advertise items like Snuggies. So I apologize if I keep you up late at night asking you to ponder the complex mysteries of our world.
Also, in my home, we have an open door policy--literally. Every door, excluding those of an occupied bathroom and the fridge, is always open. I hope you and I will be comfortable enough with each other--and with those around us--that we feel no need to hide behind bedroom doors.
Finally, I love shelves. They organize many different items under a unified structure and I find value in this kind of integrated diversity. And I love them as a metaphor: there is a place for everything, including even the quirkiest of our traits. That’s why no one should feel left out no matter how strange or odd they might think they are.
So, what are you like?
Why I like this essay:
I learn so much about the writer. I learn (in order, by paragraph) that she: is confident enough to admit she’s a little weird, values her freedom to think, is observant and sensitive to life’s small details, is great with wordplay, is ironic and self-deprecating even while pondering life’s mysteries, is willing to be emotionally open, values making order from chaos, (AND she’s smart enough to write an essay that actually creates order out of chaos--so her form matches her content).