What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Stanford University
Stanford University
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Respond to the “Looking Forward to” Stanford Prompt

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara and Johnathan Patin-Sauls in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered:


Stanford’s fifth short answer question asks you to respond to the following prompt: “Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford.” For this short answer question, your response is limited to a maximum of 50 words.


Here are our expert tips for writing a strong response!


Why This Prompt is Important


As you approach this short answer question, keep in mind that Stanford uses essays as “tiebreakers” to differentiate between students with similar backgrounds, quantitative profiles and resumes.  This is especially important given the fact that Stanford has approximately four or five qualified applicants for every available spot in the class. 


Adding specificity to your response and demonstrating truly authentic reasons for wanting to attend Stanford can set you apart from similarly qualified applicants.


So, before you start writing, try independently brainstorming the aspects of Stanford that are most important to you.


As humans, we often like the things we like because they speak to a deeper part of us. Sometimes, all it takes is some reflection to make connections between the things we enjoy and why they matter to us. 


Whether you are excited about Stanford’s campus life, extracurricular activities, volunteer work or academic opportunities, make sure that your individual, authentic “why” is clear in this short answer response.


How to Choose a Topic


Academics vs. Traditions


Often, students will ask whether it is better to write about Stanford’s traditions or academics for this prompt. 


When brainstorming for this essay, remember that it is one of several essays that Stanford will be receiving from you, along with the other components of your application. If the rest of your essays are light on academics, for example, focusing on your academic interests could be valuable here.


Writing about Academics


When writing about academics, make sure to highlight specific opportunities that you are interested in, like joining a particular lab or connecting with a specific professor.


Additionally, you can mention programs offered by Stanford that are not available at other institutions. Make sure to include specific details, such as the name of a program or course, especially if you are referring to opportunities that exist at other highly-selective schools. 


Writing about Traditions


Traditions, in contrast to academics, are by definition unique to each school. While you can often find the same or similar academic or extracurricular opportunities at many institutions, it is rare to find the same tradition at multiple schools. Writing about traditions can be nice because it can lead to a more fun response, and can help round out your application.


While including specific details is important, remember that the point of this essay is not just to show how much you know about Stanford. It’s more important to show who you will be as a student at Stanford. 


For more tips, check out our Stanford essay breakdown and this Stanford essay example.