If Stanford is on your list of schools to apply to then you need to listen up! With the Class of 2020, the Stanford acceptance rate dropped below 5%. It’s a first in the university’s history, but not altogether surprising. Their rate has been steadily declining every year, meaning it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get in no matter how amazing you are. But with alumni ranging from Chelsea Clinton to Simone Manuel, you’ll be in amazing company if you’re accepted. So let’s dig into the data and see what we can find.

What is the Stanford Acceptance Rate?

A lower Stanford acceptance rate means your application needs to be at its strongest in all areas to be a serious contender. When we look at the data for 2016’s incoming freshman, we find an incredibly elite group. 75% of the admitted class have a GPA of 4.0 or above and 95% are in the top 10% of their class. Impressed yet? We definitely are, especially when you consider that nearly 44,000 students applied and just over 2100 were accepted. These are startling numbers, even from one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

Needless to say, the competitiveness doesn’t stop there. That 4.8% Stanford acceptance rate includes some pretty impressive ACT and SAT scores, too. 90% of the incoming freshman have an ACT score ranging from 30-36. Roughly 50% of the Class of 2020 has SAT scores ranging from 700-799 in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. This means if you have an SAT score in the 1380-1570 range, you have a high chance of being accepted. But even having these top scores doesn’t mean you’ll receive an acceptance packet in the mail.

So why should you apply at all if some of the best of the best are being turned away? And why is the Stanford acceptance rate declining each year? You should apply, because you’re a good fit, because you want to go, and because you can bring something to the table. As for why the Stanford acceptance rate is declining, more and more students are taking the opportunity to go there instead of another university. So to ensure they have enough resources for every student who says yes, Stanford has to offer the chance to fewer students.

Makes sense, right? This means the candidate pool is incredibly competitive and that standing out from the rest is incredibly important. So what can you do to help your application grab the attention of the admissions committee and make them realize they can’t live without you? There’s no set formula so it can be hard to say. You can do all the “right” things and still be denied admission. But there are some core things you can do to improve your chances of being noticed and maybe even accepted at Stanford.

 

How to Improve Your Chances of Being Accepted

Let’s refer back to the Class of 2020 date. These numbers are good goals to have when you’re looking at your academic career. You need to do well on the ACT or SAT and consider taking them multiple times to ensure you submit the best score to them. Remember: the higher the score the better. Take practice tests, hire a tutor, and make sure you know the expectations of the test and how it’s graded. More students submit the SAT to Stanford than the ACT, so keep that in mind and decide which test shows off your strengths more.

Your GPA is also very important, especially when you consider that most of the admitted class has a 4.0 or above. Take as many AP and IB courses as possible. These classes are typically worth more in terms of GPA and many schools will give you a boost for obtaining certain grades in those classes. Remember to work hard in those classes, seek out help if you’re having difficulties, and develop strong relationships with your teachers. This way you can ask them for letters of recommendation later on.

Here’s where it gets tricky: getting into Stanford is about more than just numbers. If you look at their history, a lot of their applicant pool over the last five years brought a 2400 SAT score to the table. Before being remodeled, that was the highest score possible on the SAT. The shocking part? 69% of those perfect-scoring SAT applicants didn’t get accepted. So while preparing academically is important, it’s not going to guarantee you an acceptance letter.

Stanford is looking for students who can contribute to their community and what that looks like varies from year to year. One thing is for certain though: the admissions committee constantly looks for someone with passion. The evaluation process is holistic, meaning it takes everything you provide them into account and then some. They look at how you fit into campus as a whole and where you will fit in within your incoming class. It’s all about fit and community. All you do is the best you can with the hard data and be yourself for the rest of it.

Because the Stanford acceptance rate falls every year, it’s incredibly important that you submit the strongest application possible. The majority of their incoming freshman class are at the top of their class with the GPA and test scores to prove they belong there. But since more and more students are accepting Stanford’s offer to attend, the university is accepting fewer and fewer students to make sure they have enough resources to accommodate them. There’s plenty that you can do to increase your chances of being admitted so don’t get discouraged by these numbers. But even if you’re not admitted to Stanford, just remember: you’ve made yourself into the kind of student any of the Ivy League and other competitive schools would fight to have in their incoming class.

What are your thoughts? Is the competitiveness for college going too far? Do these recent numbers encourage you to apply? Discourage you? Let us know in the comments below!