Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Stanford show preference in the admission process for students who have demonstrated interest by visiting, calling and emailing?

Not at all. Contacting the Admission Office is neither a requirement nor an advantage in our admission process. We offer campus tours and information sessions to provide you with the information you need to make an informed college choice, not to evaluate you. Please do not feel compelled to contact us to demonstrate your interest in Stanford; we know by the very fact of your applying that you are seriously interested in Stanford. We do not keep records of prospective student contacts with our office.

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2. Would attending Stanford summer programs improve one's chances for freshman admission?

We do not have a preference for students who attend Stanford specific summer programs, but overall, engaging in enrichment opportunities and advanced courses may demonstrate your enthusiasm for learning and discovery. The fact that you are taking summer or enrichment programs is not in and of itself the value-add to your application; it is what you take from that experience, how you share that experience with us through your essays and how that experience has enhanced your intellectual life that is of importance.

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3. What are the guidelines for home-schooled applicants?

We do not have a required curriculum or set of courses for applicants, although we do make general recommendations to all applicants. It will be to your advantage if your home curriculum meets or exceeds these recommendations.

Read more in the Home-Schooled Applicant Guidelines section.

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4. I am a prospective student interested in learning what the admission process is like for applicants with disabilities. Where can I go to learn more?

More information can be found on the Office of Accessible Education's website for prospective students with physical, psychological and learning disabilities. This website has information pertaining to the application process, visiting campus, admission policies and more.

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5. Am I a Freshman or Transfer applicant?

Freshman Applicant

You are considered a freshman applicant if any of the following apply:

  • You are still in high school/home school and have not yet received your high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • You have received a high school diploma or the equivalent but have not enrolled full-time at a post-secondary institution nor entered a college or university as a degree-seeking student.
  • You have not yet received your high school diploma or the equivalent and are enrolled in an early college program or dual enrollment program.

Incoming freshmen are allowed to transfer a maximum of 45 quarter units (roughly one year of full-time college or university study) to Stanford. All credit evaluations for enrolling students are completed by the Office of the University Registrar on receipt of official college transcripts or score reports.

Transfer Applicant
You are considered a transfer applicant if any of the following apply:

  • You have enrolled as a degree-seeking student at a college or university at any point after you received your high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • You graduated from high school or received a high school diploma equivalent and subsequently enrolled in a college or university for more than half time.

If either of these conditions applies to you, you may not disregard your college record and apply as a freshman. You must apply as a transfer.

Incoming transfer students are allowed to transfer a maximum of 90 quarter units (roughly two years of full-time college or university study) to Stanford regardless of the number of units earned at previous institutions. All undergraduate students are required to study at Stanford for two full academic years in order to receive a bachelor's degree from Stanford. All credit evaluations for enrolling students are completed by the Office of the University Registrar on receipt of official college transcripts or score reports.

Stanford University requires ALL students to have a high school diploma or the equivalent before entering.

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6. Should I take the SAT Subject test?

We recommend (but do not require) that you submit official results of at least two SAT Subject Tests, as these additional scores often assist us in our evaluation process. You are welcome to submit any and all SAT Subject Tests you have completed. We do not have a preference for the specific SAT Subject Tests you elect to take. However, if you elect to take a math test, we do prefer to see the Math Level 2 test if you feel that your math background has adequately prepared you for this test.

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7. What about additional evaluators?

You may submit one additional recommendation from someone who knows you well, other than a teacher or counselor, and can provide information about you not available elsewhere. Please remember that a letter from a famous person or Stanford alumnus will not help us reach a decision if that person is unable to add new insights to your application. Ask the recommender to note your official name, birth date, current school and Common Application ID number at the top of the letter. (Your Common Application ID number is available on the Common Application website after logging in to your account.) No special form is required. The recommender should fax the letter to our Credentials Office at (650) 723-6050.

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8. How are interviews assigned?

An applicant is matched to an interviewer based on the applicant’s high school location as indicated on the application and the availability of alumni interviewers in the area. Applicants may not request interviews. If you attend high school outside an interview region, you may not travel to an interview region in order to interview.

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9. How will I know if I am assigned an interview?

If an interviewer is available, he or she will invite the assigned applicant to interview by email or occasionally by phone. If the interviewer does not receive a response, he or she may send a text message notifying the applicant to check email for an interview invitation. Applicants who receive interview invitations are encouraged to respond as quickly as possible.

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10. What information does the interviewer have about me?

Alumni interviewers receive the name of the applicant, the high school name, and applicant contact information as provided on the application. Interviewers do not have access to other application information such as test scores, grades or activity lists.

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11. Where and when are interviews conducted?

Interviews are conducted in public locations such as coffee shops and libraries in 62 regions. Interviews are not offered on campus.

Interviews for REA are conducted between mid-October and mid-November. Interviews for RD are conducted between mid-January and mid-February.

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12. How should I prepare for the interview?

Since the interview is meant to be an informal conversation, no formal preparation is needed. There is no set list of questions that interviewers are required to ask, and each interview will be unique. Prior to the interview, applicants may want to think about questions to ask the interviewer. Remember that one goal of the interview is to help you get to know Stanford better through someone who has attended.

Applicants should arrive on time for interviews, so planning accordingly for transportation is important.

You are welcome to dress in typical high school attire for the interview.

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13. What should I bring to the interview?

Applicants are encouraged to bring only themselves to the interview. Please do not bring resumes, transcripts, test scores or other supplementary materials to share with interviewers.

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14. How does an interview impact an application?

Interviewers are not admission counselors and are not experts on the Stanford admission process or involved in making admission decisions. Their role is to convey information about applicants that supplements the application.

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15. If I decline my invitation to interview, will that hurt my application?

Declining an interview invitation will not negatively impact an application, and all applications are considered complete with or without an interview.

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16. May I contact my interviewer after the interview if I have questions or more to say?

Applicants are encouraged to direct follow-up questions to the Admission Office via email at or by phone at (650) 723-2091. Interviewers are asked to submit their interview feedback immediately after the interview and are not able to respond to further information submitted.

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17. I am a prospective student and will be visiting the campus. Can I sit in on classes?

During the academic year, the Visitor Center can provide a list of classes open to prospective students who wish to observe. Prospective students can drop by the Visitor Center to obtain this information.

If visiting a class is a high priority for you, be advised that those courses which allow prospective students to sit in generally have a lecture-based format, are offered on the hour during weekday mornings and last for approximately one hour. To ensure that you will be able to sit in on a course in an academic area of your interest while visiting Stanford, be sure to coordinate your intentions and itinerary when making reservations for other tours or programs. Also, ensure that you are visiting while classes are in session and not during finals or academic breaks. Stanford University operates on the quarter system, and our class calendar can differ significantly from those of other institutions.

Be advised that sitting in on a class during Summer Quarter is not possible, as course options are limited and often cater specifically to summer camp or conference audiences.

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18. How can I meet current students during my visit to the Stanford campus?

Current students are on staff at the Visitor Center and welcome your questions. In addition, Stanford students typically enjoy talking about their experiences, and you are welcome to ask questions of any student that you see walking around campus.

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19. Does Stanford offer any academically-oriented summer programs for high school and college students?

Stanford's Summer Session offers programs for both high school and college students.

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20. Does Stanford practice Affirmative Action?

Stanford has a strong commitment to admitting and enrolling a student body that is both highly qualified and diverse. We review all applications with a sensitive awareness to the applicant's personal experiences, family background and potential to add to the rich and dynamic texture of our campus. We recognize special circumstances and pay close attention to the unique educational contexts and life experiences of students from low-income families and nontraditional backgrounds. At Stanford, students benefit from unparalleled diversity of thought, experiences, cultures, and ways of viewing the world. We believe that the best education can develop only in a vibrant, diverse community that actively affirms both the differences among its members and the numerous points of connection. At a place like Stanford, where students learn so much from one another, a dynamic range of perspectives and experiences influences learning both in and out of the classroom. We are committed to making Stanford as strong a university as possible, and this entails enrolling the most promising students from all backgrounds.

Please visit this resource to read about Stanford University's Nondiscrimination Policy.

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Updated on August 5, 2015 8:58 AM