As we get closer to March and high school Spring Breaks, we’ll be seeing more and more prospective freshmen coming to Stanford to explore possibilities for their next four years at college and their lives beyond. As a tour guide, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce them to some of the possibilities available for them to create here at Stanford.
Everyone is searching for clues as to what it is that gets one a spot in the next freshman class. Tour guides all answer that question a bit differently, and I want to provide some of my own (read: unofficial) perspective on it.
Guides will almost universally tell you about the importance of strong academic performance in high school. Most of the time, you’ll also hear guides tell you some variation on: “Do what you love,” “Be passionate,” “Be who you are,” and have something to show for it. An award. An invention. A great letter of recommendation.
I usually place a lot of emphasis on the second part of that answer. Be healthy. Be happy. Be whole, be passionate, show Stanford who you are and what excites you; maintain a sense of humor; innovate, take risks, and build relationships with people who inspire you.
There’s a really simple logic behind this, in my opinion: not only will you be interesting to the person reading your application, you’ll be interesting to yourself. It’s cliché, but true. Whether you get into Stanford or not, life is yours to create. The risks are yours to take. The successes and failures are yours to make. Think of it this way: whether or not you make it through the door at Stanford, you’ll still carry with you the most powerful tool and most important opportunity in your life: You.
So take care of it, nurture it, love it. It’s the one thing you can count on to be with you wherever you go.