Freshman Application Requirements

Application and Essays

You can apply to Stanford by submitting online either the Coalition Application or the Common Application . In addition, we require the Stanford Questions, which you can access in either application once you add Stanford University to your list of colleges. You must submit the Stanford Questions online through the Coalition or Common Application.

When you apply to Stanford, you apply to the university as a whole, not to a particular major, department or school. We encourage you to indicate prospective majors and career interests in the application, but please know you are not bound by these selections in any way.
Listed below are the Coalition Application and Common Application personal essay prompts, followed by the Stanford Questions.

Coalition Application Essay Prompts 

Choose one of the following prompts for your personal essay. 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 for your personal essay. The Common App sets 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 obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • 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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Stanford Short Essay Questions

Please write a short essay in response to each of the below three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.

  1. The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.
  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. Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?
Updated on September 29, 2018 10:23 AM