Freshman Requirements & Process


We want to hear your individual voice in your writing. Write essays that reflect who you are 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. While asking for feedback is suggested, do not enlist hired assistance in the writing of your essays.

The essay prompts for the Common Application and the Coalition Application as well as the Stanford essay questions are listed here. The Stanford essay questions are located in the Stanford Questions section of the Common Application and in the Stanford Application Questions section of the Coalition Application.

Coalition Application Essay Prompts

Choose one of the following prompts. The Coalition recommends you write an essay between 300 and 400 words and no longer than 500 to 550 words.

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  • Has there been a time when you've had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Common Application Essay Prompts

Choose one of the following prompts. There is a 250-word minimum and a 650-word maximum.

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you have experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Stanford Short Essays

Candidates respond to all three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.

  1. Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
  2. 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.
  3. What matters to you, and why?
Updated on August 26, 2016 3:13 PM