Tips on Applying

Application Tips

Faculty choose their SoCo students based largely on your answers to the application questions—SoCo does NOT use the transcript, recommendations, or external prizes as part of the application process. The application will ask you to answer two questions:

One: What are the reasons you want to participate in this particular seminar? Faculty are interested in finding out your reasons for being interested in the seminar topic; there's no right answer--there are as many reasons as there are students who apply. Read the course description carefully; identify for yourself what caught your attention. Reflect on your long-term or recently-discovered interests, or how this seminar experience will build on your educational goals. Be specific and offer details that demonstrate thoughtfulness about your interests and goals as they relate to this seminar. (Responses are generally fewer than 300 words.)

Two: Students describe the diversity of perspectives they found in their classmates as one of the most important parts of Sophomore College. What particular contribution do you feel you could offer to this seminar? In your response, you are welcome to include your personal, familial, and cultural background; previous academic experience (college or pre-college); relevant extracurricular activities, including community work you may have done; and any social and work skills you've acquired that would make you a good member of this group and a contributor to the overall class experience. (Responses are generally fewer than 300 words.)

Some classes will also have additional seminar-specific questions. As you answer the questions, it’s most important to present yourself genuinely and directly and show your interest in the topic. Some suggestions:

  1. Don’t spend your time trying to guess what the right answer is or what the faculty member expects. Some faculty want students with some experience and some don’t; some want students with no background in the topic; most faculty look for a combination of students with different interests. They make decisions based on the pool of students and the faculty member’s sense of what will make a good group as well as individual students.
  2. There could be many reasons for your interest. What follows is an incomplete list of possibilities: your interest may be related to your family or friends, your history, work you have done or would like to do, classes you have taken, your discovery of subjects you became aware of after you came to Stanford, your fascination with an idea. Whatever your reason, be direct and give examples. Avoid filler and generalizations.
  3. You don’t have to limit your choices of SoCo classes to your intended major. Also look at seminars that speak to a different interest of yours, to exploration of a topic that you might not have a chance to do otherwise, or to a talent you have or want to develop.
  4. We talk to each other in stories all the time. Thinking of your answers as a narrative helps to organize your ideas, give a natural flow to what you’re writing, and keeps you sounding like yourself. Explain to a friend why you want to take this class—begin by writing that down, and then ask someone for feedback—a friend, a Hume writing tutor, your AAD.
  5. You have absolutely nothing to lose by applying; give it a shot. Faculty absolutely accept students who have ranked their class #2 or #3, so if 3 topics interest you, apply to all 3!