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Opinion: Advice to High School Underclassmen from the Stanford Class of 2022

Getting into college has only become more competitive in recent years. That’s why many students from the Stanford class of 2022 want to reassure students in Los Angeles and all around the country that everything will turn out fine in the end. With an acceptance rate of 4.3 percent, this year’s newly admitted class promises both great potential to the university and the communities they come from. Because of this, I asked the Stanford Class of ’22, what advice they’d give to high school underclassmen.

Read some of my favorite responses below and if you’re a senior, share some of your own advice with @hsinsider

If you could give your past-self advice about how to best deal with high school, what would it be?

“Eric, I know that you might think you know this, but right now you really don’t. You’re insecure, although you might not know or admit it. You want to fit in. You can. But right now, you’re too negative and critical of others and it’s going to cost you friends. You’re gonna flake and not keep your work ethic going, and it’s going to cost you support and leadership chances. But don’t give up. Look and find why others view you that way and prove them wrong. You will achieve so much from becoming optimistic and nicer towards others, and eventually, by understanding yourself, you can see your future, write about it, and get into the college of your dreams, and you might just find your dream career and the love of your life while you study there. Keep fighting, and you’ll blow everyone away.”

-Eric Wang

“Ironically, I would tell myself to care less about school. I think that students today, myself included, place far too much importance on their grades, class rank and standardized test scores, and they would benefit from decompressing from time to time and gaining some necessary context on the purpose of their education. High school is becoming more and more of a competition between students, when it should be treated as an enriching educational experience that colors but doesn’t define a student’s adolescence.”

-Jack Quinn

“Take advantage of every opportunity you are presented with; pursue what you love; make time for the activities you enjoy the most; talk to people, be interested in other’s stories, experiences — I’ve found that over high school, I’ve learned the most from conversation with my classmates and strangers on the tube.”

-Trinity Donohugh

What was your academic workload like?

“Pretty tough lol.”

-Ellie Taylor

“Very challenging but enjoyable. Take classes you actually care about/are interested in.”

-Natasha Ong

“Extremely heavy. I’m talking about like Atlas carrying the sky on his back heavy, except my burdens included textbooks and homework.”

-Gabrielle Mendoza

(Please note that many, many students mentioned the word “heavy” or “tough” but these same students also discussed their love for learning. Intellectual vitality seems to be a recurring trait in not only just Stanford students but also many other competitive colleges.)

tamer shabani Opinion: Advice to High School Underclassmen from the Stanford Class of 2022
Photo by Tamer Shabani

With regards to getting admitted into Stanford, how did you prepare yourself prior to the college admissions process?

“I prepared myself by thinking early on about what I wanted to write my essays on. I stayed true to myself and didn’t write about what I thought anyone wanted to hear. I spoke my truth. Also, throughout high school, I didn’t do activities for college or to look good on paper, I did what I loved to do and it shaped me into a more interesting person.”

-Caroline Ricken

“Of course, I wanted the best application I could have. That being said, I never went out of my way to do something for my application that I would not have done otherwise — then it really wouldn’t have been ME. I simply did the very best I could and accepted that. If I were rejected, then at least I did all I could.”

-Anastasia Brada

“Taking challenging classes of course (AP, IB, and dual enrollment), but I think it was most important to become well-rounded. Volunteer. Join loads of clubs and activities. Have a good relationship with teachers and your counselor (seriously.) I got to know what I was passionate about and found outlets to express them (theatre, peer counseling). I failed. A lot. Which I think totally helped me grow and learn more than any of my textbooks have. But more than anything I focused on getting to know myself so that when Stanford asked about me, I could authentically tell them who I am and what matters to me. I found my voice so I could write essays that truly let them get to know me beyond just another applicant.”

-Kailah Seymour

“In my application, I did not try to fabricate or lie about who I am. Honestly, I did not change my essays much after I first wrote them because I did not think there was a chance I would ever get in. I think that speaks to the admissions officers’ abilities to understand who a student is and what they are passionate about.”

-Eleanor Schroeder

A brief recap

If I had to summarize all of these wonder ProFro’s (prospective freshmen) advice, it would be to do what you love. A lot of these students found passion. There’s an emphasis on the a because many of these students are passionate about many things. However, while many of the ProFros this year had a breadth of interests, they all also had a really rich experience in a passion they cared about. My advice to underclassmen would be to branch out (forgive me for the tree pun #FearTheTree) and to not be afraid to try out extracurriculars that do not necessarily “fit your application personality.” I know a lot of colleges have become selective but if you fall in love with what you’re learning in high school and even with learning itself, it shows in your application. Simply, relax, learn, and explore who you are and who you are going to be.

To see what other students from the Stanford Class of 2022 said, click here.

Lastly, I would like to thank all those ProFros who took time out of their busy lives to submit advice for this article.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire Stanford University class of 2022 nor of the university itself.
stanford logo Opinion: Advice to High School Underclassmen from the Stanford Class of 2022
(Logo courtesy of Stanford.edu)

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