Each year, Stanford University receives over 40,000 applications from high school hopefuls. Only 5% of them get a Stanford acceptance letter.
For example, in 2015, Stanford accepted 2,144 applicants from a record 42,487 applications for the Class of 2019. That’s a tiny 5.0% admission rate.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of applicants get a rejection letter. “I regret to inform you…”
When I was in high school, I was one of the lucky few to apply to Stanford and receive an acceptance letter in the mail. This validated years of hard work and made me proud that a school like Stanford wanted me as part of their community.
Here’s my complete, official Stanford acceptance letter.
Want to learn what it takes to get a Stanford admit letter yourself?
Read my How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League guide. I'll take you through the philosophy behind how to become the world-class student that schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton are looking for. You'll learn what it means to develop an application Spike, why being well-rounded is the path to rejection, and how to craft a compelling application yourself. Read this guide now before it's too late.
Here's a scan of the original admissions letter sent to me by the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University.
Even though I decided to attend Harvard, it was a really tough choice to turn down Stanford. It has an energetic, open environment and great location in the Bay Area. In retrospect, with my current interest in entrepreneurship, it might have been really interesting to attend Stanford.
Afterward, I'll give you tips on what it takes for you to get an acceptance letter like this for yourself.
Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I offer you admission to the Stanford University Class of 2009.
Your thoughtful application and remarkable accomplishments convinced us that you have the intellectual energy, imagination and talent to flourish at Stanford. Among the over 20,000 applications we read, your distinguished record of academic excellence and personal achievement stood out. We are thrilled to welcome you to the Stanford community and look forward to the unique and extraordinary contributions we know you will make to the intellectual and extracurricular life of our campus.
The exciting next step is now yours. As Stanford is probably only one of several options you will consider in the coming weeks, I hope you will use the time to learn more about us. We invite you to participate in Admit Weekend 2005, a three-day program that will introduce you to the intellectual vibrancy and dynamic campus life that define Stanford. Information about that event is enclosed. Whatever decision you make, we ask that you complete the enclosed enrollment response card and return it to us by the postmark deadline of May 2, 2005. Should you decide to matriculate at Stanford — and we sincerely hope you do — we will send enrollment information to you in late May.
While we have every reason to believe you will complete this school year successfully, remember that your admission is contingent upon your continued strong academic performance in the program you presented to us in your application.
Once again, I extend my congratulations on your admission to Stanford and welcome you to the Stanford family.
Anna Marie Porras
Director of Admission
(Bring your light saber to Stanford!)
The lightsaber comment is a reference to my Stanford supplemental essay.
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OK....so now what?
You probably have a reason for looking at this acceptance letter. Let me try to help you out.
If you just received a rejection letter from Stanford, I'm sorry. When admissions officers say deciding between students is really tough, they're speaking the truth.
The good news is that you're in command of your future. There are Stanford graduates who end up lost in life, and there are graduates from hundreds of other colleges (and even people who never went to college) who end up with amazing achievements. You're in control of your own fate. So if you're disappointed about a Stanford rejection, I hope you pick yourself up and excel from this point forward. Here's a guide on how to get great grades in college and prepare yourself for the future.
If you're planning your college application and want to apply to Stanford, I hope this acceptance letter inspires you to want your own.
Make no mistake, it took a lot of hard work to get to the point where I felt I was likely to pass Stanford's tough admission requirements. Throughout high school, I had to strategize carefully and spend my time effectively so I could balance great grades, AP coursework, high test scores, and deep extracurricular activities.
To help you out, I've written everything I know about succeeding in high school and college admissions. If you want your own Stanford acceptance letter, these are must-read guides:
This is the most fundamental guide to help you understand what top colleges like the Ivy Leagues are looking for. Here you'll learn:
- what kinds of students are most attractive to Stanford and why
- why being well-rounded is the path to failure in selective college admissions
- what a Spike is and why an effective Spike will get you admitted to every college
- how you can develop your own compelling Spike
I'm not saying it's easy, because it's not at all trivial. But in my experience with many thousands of students across the country, far too many have the wrong idea about what colleges actually want.
In the process, most students waste far too much time on things that aren't important and do nothing to raise their admissions chances. Even worse, they end up miserable and stressed all day.
That's why I wrote this guide. Read it before it's too late - it might totally change your high school strategy.
To complement my "How to Get Into Stanford" guide, I share my entire college application, page by page, word for word. You'll see the exact application that the admissions committee at Stanford saw, including the Common Application, my personal essays, letters of recommendation, and transcript.
I also provide commentary on every piece of my application. You'll see what was REALLY important to get me into Stanford, and other things that weren't. You'll even see mistakes I made in my application.
I've never seen anyone else provide this level of analysis and detail, so I believe you'll get something out of it.
Your coursework is a critical component of your college application. Not only do you need great grades, you need great grades in what Stanford says is "among the most demanding courses available at your school."
Thus it's no surprise that a lot of high school students are stressed out and anxious. Do you ever feel like you're taking too many AP courses and struggling to balance everything?
The biggest problems I see in the students I work with are in mindset, habits, and strategy. To help students out, I've written a complete guide on how to excel in high school coursework.
I take you through three levels of detail, from high to low:
- Mindset and Psychology: Do you have the confidence to know you can even improve? Are you prepared to work hard?
- Overall Planning and Habits: Do you make the most out of every hour? Do you understand what teachers care about, and how to give them what they want? Do you know how to avoid procrastination?
- Individual Class Strategies: How do you excel in English classes? How is this different from math and science classes?
I learned a lot of these lessons the hard way, throughout high school and college. This is the guide I wish I had before starting high school.
Take the time to read it and you might get better grades while saving hundreds of hours of study time.
As you already know, besides GPA, the other major number on your application is your SAT/ACT score. This score is so important because it compares you to high school students across the country on even ground.
Top schools like Stanford expect you to be in the top 1 percentile of the country. If you're not, you'll cast serious doubt on your academic ability and your ability to thrive at Stanford.
Also, check out my series on getting perfect scores in each of the sections on the SAT/ACT:
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT. You can also find Allen on his personal website, Shortform, or the Shortform blog.