A Guide to the Stanford Supplement

Personal Statement Tips

A Guide to the Stanford Supplement

From my experiences as a student at Stanford, the questions and essay topics included in the Stanford supplement are meant to encourage the personality of the applicant to shine through. So, if that is the case, what kind of personality is Stanford looking for?

If there is one thing I have learned from my time here so far, it is that the students at Stanford value creativity and a playful mind above all else. I'm not saying that you must have invented a time machine or founded a couple of Fortune 500 companies by the time you apply. What I am saying, however, is that you need to show that you have the desire, creativity, and work ethic things to someday ACCOMPLISH great on that magnitude.

Now let's talk about the actual supplement. The individual questions have changed over the years, but there are still three main parts to the supplement. The first part asks you to write about one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. After talking with other students , I have gotten the general sense that it does not really matter whether you choose an extracurricular or a work experience to write about. What does matter, is that you make sure to choose an experience that you are very passionate about.

For example, when I wrote this essay, I chose to talk about my experience with the school band, which taught me many of the major lessons that influenced my work ethic in high school. Some of my friends chose to write about subjects as ordinary sounding as my band experience while others wrote about incomparable experiences like research trips to the Amazon. It does not matter as much what subject you write about, but more so that you can convey exactly how that experience helped you to grow as a person or how it revolutionized your outlook on something.

The second part of the supplement asks you to answer a few short questions about topics like your favorite books, how you spent your last two summers, etc.

The best piece of advice I can give you here is to simply be yourself. Contrary to what some may think, Stanford does NOT accept only students that Read Shakespeare 24/7 or students that spend a majority of their time watching documentaries on the state of the US economy. Don't be afraid to admit that you love reality TV or that you really enjoy reading Dr. Seuss books. I actually have a friend that listed Jersey Shore as one of their favorite shows and I, myself, listed the Captain Underpants series as some of my favorite books.

Overall for this section, just remember to be honest and let the application readers see what you're genuinely interested in outside of your academic life.

The third and final part of the supplement asks you to write on three essay topics. In my experience, this is where it is most important to show that you possess the characteristics that students at Stanford value so highly - creativity and a playful mind. Two of the essays deal with your intellectual development and what ideas matter the most to you. For these two essays, you need to show that you are intellectually stimulated by something and that you have a real vision for how you could improve that area of study in the future. For example, I wrote about the topic of nanotechnology and my vision for its future use in medicine. Some of my friends wrote about the future of subjects like computer science and international public health. I've found that a successful essay does not necessarily require that you even have experience in a certain field (I had never done any work with nanotechnology, but I had read a lot about it), only that you have the desire to flourish in that field of study.

The third essay is the most enjoyable to write from my experience: The letter to your future roommate For this essay, I've found that it doesn't hurt to make a few jokes or be silly if you're that kind of person. On the other hand, if you're normally a more serious person, then be serious. I'm normally more of a silly person so I started off the essay writing about my skills in the "art of laundry." You should really treat this essay as a letter you would want your future roommate to read. With this in mind, I've found that very few students I know used this essay to highlight more of their accomplishments. You've done enough of that in the rest of your application. Use this essay to expand on the things you weren't able to list in the second part of the supplement (ex. Your favorite hobbies) and then reveal more about who you are as a person in your nonacademic life (ex . Your likes, dislikes, any of your quirky habits).

At the end of the day, the best advice I can give from my experience for the Stanford supplement is to really highlight your curiosity and passion for learning in your essays. Do not be afraid to be totally honest and, most importantly, show that you have an open, imaginative mind as well as the work ethic to back any endeavors that you pursue.