Am I Good Enough for Stanford?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Aerial view of Stanford University.

When it comes to applying to some of the best undergraduate programs in the United States that are not part of the highly prestigious Ivy League, there is no question that Stanford University is amongst the very best.

In fact, Stanford might be at the top of the list when it comes to undergraduate programs in the United States, full stop!

For that reason, chances are good that any student that is thinking of applying to Stanford is asking themselves the important question, “Am I good enough for Stanford?”

A male student holding a pen near his face and thinking.

While it is true that the chances of getting into Stanford are low for any student (and getting lower), there are also some really effective and valuable tools that any student can utilize in order to improve their chances of getting into Stanford or any similarly selective and prestigious undergraduate program.

That is where AdmissionSight can come in. At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one priority to offer the fantastic high school students that we work with the tools and knowledge needed to beat the historically low acceptance rates at schools like Stanford and get into the schools of their dreams.

It is important to know that no student can truly guarantee their spot at a school like Stanford.

That is true no matter what their grade point average is, what their test scores are, and what kinds of extracurriculars they got involved in throughout high school. Still, there are many fabulous ways in which any high school student can prove that they belong at Stanford.

So, if you are already asking yourself, “Am I good enough for Stanford?”, then you have absolutely come to the right place! Let’s start breaking down all the important information that you need to know about what it takes to get into Stanford, how to improve your chances of getting in, and so much more.

Stanford’s admission requirements

The first place for any student that is interested in getting into Stanford to start is to find out the basic information regarding the school’s standards and expectations when it comes to admitting undergraduate students.

Of course, there is a range when it comes to grades, test scores and more, but schools like Stanford really expect applicants to be amongst the best of the best across the board.

Hoover Tower at Stanford University

While Stanford does not have a required list of high school courses that students have to take in order to apply, students are highly recommended to focus their course list on subjects that include the following throughout their four years in high school. The basic list of recommended courses include:

  • English: four years, with significant emphasis on writing and literature.
  • Mathematics: four years of any rigorous mathematics incorporating a solid grounding in fundamental skills (algebra, geometry, trigonometry). We also welcome preparation in skills related to statistics, data science and calculus.
  • History/Social Studies: three or more years, with courses that include the writing of essays.
  • Science: three or more years of laboratory science (including biology, chemistry and physics).
  • Foreign Language: three or more years of the same foreign language.

On top of just focusing on these kinds of classes throughout their high school years, students need to be sure that they are putting a clear focus on taking as many advanced courses as possible throughout high school.

Of course, we are referring primarily to either Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The reason for this is quite clear when it comes to applying to schools like Stanford.

Basically, Stanford has one of the most challenging and competitive curricula in the entire world for undergraduate students. Not only are the students who attend Stanford incredibly intelligent and driven, but also the faculty at Stanford are often famous men and women in their respective fields.

This creates a classroom experience that can be quite pressure packed. For that reason, admissions officers at Stanford want to feel confident that any student that they admit will be able to not only survive, but in fact thrive amidst that high level of competitiveness and difficulty.

While there is no way to be completely sure that will be the case, students who have taken a fair number of AP or IB courses will certainly help convince the admissions officers at Stanford that they have what it takes.

The reason for that is because AP and IB courses are meant to reflect both the difficulty and teaching style of introductory college courses.

If a high school student is able to take a large number of AP or IB courses and earn great grades, they will be doing a lot of great work for themselves in terms of helping to convince the admissions officers at Stanford that they have what it takes to succeed at Stanford!

At AdmissionSight, we advise our students to start enrolling in advanced courses as early as possible. For most high school students, that means getting started in AP or IB courses in the first semester of their sophomore year of high school.

On top of that, it is always advised for students to enroll in courses that cover topics that the student is either naturally strong in or has a deep interest in.

The reason for that is because these kinds of courses are exceptionally difficult and come with an increased need for hard work and a sense of responsibility. If you sign up for an advanced course in a subject that you already struggle with, you may end up regretting that decision!

Stanford’s average GPA and standardized test scores

So long as we are on the topic of what students need to do in the classroom to improve their chances of getting into Stanford, we think it is really important to let you know about the average grade point average and average test scores that high school students earn who ultimately go on to get accepted to Stanford.

A student holding a pencil and writing on the answer sheet.

When it comes to the single most important factor in any student’s ability to get into a school like Stanford, the high school grade point average stands above the rest!

Still, while a subpar GPA can absolutely lead to a student getting rejected, a great GPA alone will never be enough to get a student in on its own. Despite that, making sure that your own GPA is either at – or above – the average for students that end up getting in is highly important.

At Stanford, the unweighted average GPA for students that get in is a highly impressive 3.95. Considering the fact that a straight-A GPA is a 4.0, it should be clear that a 3.95 is immensely impressive and difficult to earn.

It basically means that students who get into Stanford earn As in practically all of their classes throughout their four years in high school. Making your academic success a top priority in high school should really be at the top of your list when it comes to your sense of responsibility if you are determined to get into Stanford or a similarly prestigious school. We will get into how students should spend their time outside of the classroom a little later.

Now, when it comes to the average standardized test scores, Stanford has similarly lofty expectations. For the SAT, the average score that Stanford admits earn is a 1510 out of the perfect score of 1600. For the ACT, the average score that Stanford admits earn is a 33 out of the perfect score of 36.

As you can see, the expectations are incredibly high across the board when it comes to academic success! One final thing that we want to mention before we move on from this topic entirely is the current standing of standardized tests when it comes to the college application process.  Currently, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of schools in the United States have elected to adopt a standardized test optional policy.

Here is what Stanford had to say about its current policy regarding both the SAT and ACT:

“We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created limited access to admission testing worldwide. We are extending 2020–21’s test optional policy to a second year. For 2021–22 first year and transfer applicants, Stanford will review applications with or without ACT or SAT test scores, leaving the decision in the hands of the applicant.”

Regardless, while sending in test scores is not required at the moment, it is important to remember that they will likely once again be made a required aspect of the application process sometime in the future.

So, if you are still a few years off from actually applying to schools, it is absolutely in your best interest to assume that you will have to take either the SAT or ACT as part of your application process.

On top of that, there is absolutely reason for students to consider taking either the SAT or ACT if amidst the current test optional policy. The reason for this is pretty clear: Essentially, the entire application process is for a student to prove that they have what it takes to succeed at a given college or university.

If you take either the SAT or ACT and earn a fantastic score, you will only be making a more convincing and proof-based argument! This could either help you overcome a grade point average that leaves a little to be desired, or could help you beat out a similarly exceptional applicant who elected to not take either the SAT or ACT.

Finally, what matters most in this current climate is your health and safety and the health and safety of those around you.

If you believe that trying to take either the SAT or ACT could threaten that safety, then you absolutely should take advantage of the lack of need to take a standardized test. However, if you are able to take one or the other safely, you should consider doing so!

What we know about Stanford’s “ideal” student

Now that you have a great idea of the admission requirements, chances are good that you are getting closer to answering the question, “Am I good enough for Stanford?”

A female student leaning on a bookshelf while clasping a book to her chest.

Still, your chances of getting into Stanford are not only going to be determined by your ability to earn great grades!

It is a requirement to earn great grades, but that is far from the only requirement. So, to help you better understand what is expected of you, let’s break down what Stanford looks for when the admissions officers at the school search for an ideal applicant.

Intellectual curiosity and determination

Getting great grades in high school is one thing, but really telling a story about yourself through the classes that you take is something else.

Admissions officers at Stanford want to see that applicants are challenging themselves in the classroom whenever possible. They also love to see that students are pursuing their passions and interests in the classroom as well. This can be done by enrolling in AP and IB courses.

This can also be done by getting involved in extracurricular activities that are closely connected to your academic passions.

If you love math, consider Mathletes. If you love science, consider the Science Olympiad. If you love writing and art, consider your school’s theater group. There is no wrong way to pursue your academic interests, just make sure that you are doing so!

Extracurricular achievement

One major misconception that some students have when it comes to extracurriculars is that the Jack of all trades is going to be the most impressive in the eyes of admissions officers. That is not the case, however.

Instead, the most important thing that admissions officers look out for is achievement and dedication. For that point, students are advised to commit fully to three to five extracurriculars and fully commit to them.

The goal of this is to, ultimately, achieve fabulous things in those extracurriculars. That could mean earning state, regional, national or even international awards, it could mean earning a role of leadership in a given group or club, or it could mean being named captain on your varsity sports team.

Truthfully, what your extracurricular activities are matters less compared to what you achieve within them and that you are able to prove that you pursue your passions during your high school years.

A strong interest in Stanford

When it comes to applying to top schools, it is important to know that students have a job of making it clear that the school is truly their top choice. Getting into a school like Stanford is a major achievement, and for many high school students it marks one of the loftiest dreams of their young lives.

Aerial view of Standford University campus and its surroundings.

Because of that, admissions officers want to feel confident that if they offer you a spot in an upcoming class, that you will not only accept that offer, but be ecstatic to do so. There are a number of ways to do this.

The first one is to get involved in the university even before you apply. Stanford offers a number of fantastic summer programs that high school students can apply to.

Not only can these programs offer you the ability to get a taste of what it is like to learn and live on Stanford’s campus, but they also give you the chance to learn from and form relationships with current faculty and students at Stanford!

Two other fantastic ways to show your strong interest in getting into Stanford is to apply to the school via the school’s Restrictive Early Action program as well as taking part in the school’s optional interview program.

Stanford’s REA is a non-binding application option, and offers a strong signal to the school that Stanford is your number one choice. Historically, students who do apply to top schools via early action or early decision application options enjoy a more favorable acceptance rate.

If you need proof of this, consider the fact that in the most recent application cycle, the overall acceptance rate at Stanford was just 4.7 percent. However, for students that applied via early action, the acceptance rate was 9.52 percent!

Beyond that, signing up for an optional interview with a member of the school’s alumni will also give you a valuable opportunity to get to know someone who is already part of the Stanford community.

It will also give you the chance to express your determination and deep interest to get into the school to someone who is in direct contact with the admissions office at Stanford!

Will you get into Stanford?

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top goal to help the students that we work with get into the top schools.

It’s why we are so proud of the fact that 75 percent of the students that we work with get into either Ivy League schools or other top-10 schools around the U.S., like Stanford. If you are interested in learning about how we can help you achieve your college admissions goals, contact us today to set up a free consultation.



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