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What to Include in Stanford Supplemental Essays

When applying to Stanford University, the supplemental essays play a crucial role in helping you stand out from the thousands of other applicants. While the Common Application essay provides a general overview of your personality and experiences, the Stanford supplemental essays provide an opportunity to dive deeper into specific aspects of your life, interests, and aspirations. These essays allow you to demonstrate your unique qualities and show how you align with Stanford’s values and community.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of crafting compelling Stanford supplemental essays that effectively highlight your strengths and potential contributions. We will explore the key areas to focus on, share valuable tips, and provide examples to help you create impactful and memorable essays.

Understanding Stanford’s Supplemental Essay Prompts

Before delving into the specifics, it is important to thoroughly understand the supplemental essay prompts provided by Stanford. These prompts are designed to elicit thoughtful and reflective responses that showcase your personality, experiences, and ambitions. They may change from year to year, but they generally revolve around similar themes such as personal growth, intellectual curiosity, and community engagement.

In the next section, we will dissect the common prompts you may encounter and provide insights into how you can approach each one effectively. Remember, understanding the prompt is the first step towards crafting a strong essay that resonates with the admissions committee.

Showcasing Personal Experiences and Perspectives

One of the primary objectives of Stanford’s supplemental essays is to gain insight into your personal experiences and how they have shaped you. Admissions officers want to understand your unique journey, challenges you have overcome, and the lessons you have learned along the way. This is your chance to share your authentic voice and provide a window into your worldview.

In the upcoming section, we will delve into strategies for showcasing your personal experiences and perspectives effectively. We will explore the art of storytelling, the importance of self-reflection, and how to connect your personal narrative to your desired academic and career paths.

Highlighting Intellectual Curiosity and Academic Interests

Stanford University is renowned for its intellectual vibrancy and commitment to academic excellence. As such, the admissions committee is interested in understanding your intellectual curiosity and how you engage with the world of ideas. This section will guide you in highlighting your academic interests, passion for learning, and any research or academic projects that have captivated your interest.

We will delve into strategies for articulating your academic journey, discussing your favorite subjects, and expressing your desire to explore new frontiers of knowledge. By effectively conveying your intellectual pursuits, you can demonstrate your fit with Stanford’s rigorous academic environment.

Demonstrating Impact and Community Involvement

Stanford University places great value on applicants who make a positive impact in their communities. Admissions officers are interested in understanding how you have engaged with the world beyond your academic pursuits and how you have contributed to the betterment of society. This section will guide you in effectively demonstrating your impact and community involvement.

We will discuss how to highlight your extracurricular activities, leadership roles, volunteer work, or any initiatives you have undertaken to create positive change. By showcasing your commitment to service and community, you can illustrate your potential to make a lasting difference at Stanford and beyond.

Emphasizing Uniqueness and Diversity

Stanford University values the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that each student brings to its campus. In this section, we will look at how you can emphasize your unique qualities and celebrate the aspects that set you apart. By emphasizing your individuality, you can demonstrate the valuable contributions you can make to the dynamic Stanford community.

We will discuss the importance of authenticity in demonstrating your true self and expressing your genuine interests and passions. In addition, we will provide guidance on how to articulate how your unique background, cultural experiences, or perspectives have influenced your worldview and shaped your aspirations.

Explaining how your unique qualities align with Stanford’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is a key element in crafting a compelling supplemental essay.

Aligning Goals with Stanford Resources

Stanford University offers its students a wide range of resources, programs, and opportunities to achieve their academic and career goals. Admissions officers will want to understand how your goals and aspirations align with what Stanford has to offer. In this section, we will help you outline your long-term goals and connect them to specific programs, professors, or research opportunities available at Stanford.

By exploring and familiarizing yourself with Stanford’s academic departments, initiatives, and extracurricular offerings, you will be able to demonstrate a good understanding of how the university can help you achieve your goals. We will discuss strategies for effectively communicating your ambitions, emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of your interests, and show how Stanford’s resources will play a key role in your academic and personal development.

Creating a Compelling Narrative and Writing Style

In addition to the content of your Stanford supplemental essays, how you communicate your thoughts and ideas is equally important. In this section, you will find tips for writing an interesting and well-structured essay that grabs the reader’s attention.

personal growth

We’ll discuss the importance of a compelling introduction, a coherent body of work, and a convincing conclusion. You will learn how to find your authentic voice and storytelling techniques that will help you create a narrative that stands out. We’ll also provide guidance on how to strike a balance between showcasing your accomplishments and reflecting on personal growth.

By honing your writing style and presenting your ideas effectively, you will be able to create an essay that will make a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Avoid Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Even the best-written essay can be ruined by common mistakes and pitfalls. In this section, we’ll look at some common mistakes to avoid when writing Stanford supplemental essays. By being aware of these traps, you can ensure that your essay remains focused, impactful, and error-free.

We will discuss issues such as clichéd language, excessive self-promotion, lack of clarity, and failure to answer questions effectively. We will also provide tips on proofreading, editing, and seeking feedback to improve the overall quality of your essay.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you will be able to improve your essay and increase your chances of making a positive impression on the admissions committee.


Creating an exceptional Stanford University application essay requires thoughtful reflection, strategic planning, and effective communication. By following the guidelines provided in this article, you will be able to present a comprehensive picture of yourself, demonstrating your personal experience, intellectual curiosity, impact on society, uniqueness, and alignment with Stanford’s values and resources.

Remember to stay true to yourself, be authentic in your writing, and take the time to carefully proofread and edit your essays. With careful preparation and an authentic approach, you will be able to create compelling Stanford supplemental essays that can make a strong impression and increase your chances of getting into this prestigious institution. Good luck to you!


Brandon Galarita is a freelance writer and K-12 educator in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is passionate about technology in education, college and career readiness and school improvement through data-driven practices.

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