How to Write the Stanford Roommate Essay


Halloween is this week. And do you know what that means? The Early Action deadline is upon us!

With all the Early Action colleges out there, you probably feel the weight of the various short essay responses. Thankfully, many of these prompts follow the standard fare of college admissions essays, but one topic seems to always throw students for a loop: Stanford’s “roommate letter” short essay.

Stanford’s roommate essay is one of the few times that admissions officers ask you to write directly about how you see yourself fitting in with your prospective roommate and, to some extent, the university’s social climate as a whole. Because of this focus on the interpersonal, students struggle to balance a casual tone with a formal style.

So let’s talk about how best to approach this short response!

Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—get to know you better.

Structure & Content

You should include a greeting, approximately three or four paragraphs, and a closing. The middle paragraphs should build on a theme, revealing something about yourself that would otherwise be left out of the application, something that the admissions officers would only know if they lived with you. Perhaps that is an eating habit, such as a favorite food, or maybe a workout routine. Or maybe it is something even more interesting, like singing to yourself.

Whatever you decide to write about should highlight how you connect with others. And it wouldn’t hurt if your plans with your roommate included elements of Stanford that you like but don’t really fit in any other essays, such as those omni-present fountains, or maybe the tree mascot.

What to Avoid

It isn’t a bad idea to address a few ways that you hope to bond with your roommate (all the while, revealing more about yourself), but don’t just list a bunch of activities. Like for any other essay topic, the best responses are focused, not those that cram in several ideas. Go for depth, not breadth!

Also, since this response lends itself to more casual tones, students often attempt to inject the letter with humor--to varying results. My general recommendation is that you should completely avoid adding jokes to your essays unless the joke is very obvious or clearly appeals to everyone. But even then, humor can turn off whoever is reading the essay, so it is better to keep the essay lighthearted without being outright comedic. Similarly, don’t get too gimmicky. Poems, creative writing, imagined dialogues--these are all interesting but often not really informative, so you could be taking a major risk and offering nothing useful to your application.

Final Thoughts

Generally, try to present yourself as a likable, HUMAN applicant. This is true for all essays, but here you should be more willing to “let loose” and “reveal personality” because that is the point of the question. Just do so in an appropriate, friendly manner, and you should be fine! Don’t overthink yourself!

Need last-minute help on your Stanford short essays before the Early Action deadline on November 1st? No worries! Check out B2A’s College Admissions Services (CAS)! Our professional, qualified admissions counselors and essay specialists can help you refine and focus your responses, giving you a better chance at meeting your new roommate at Stanford!

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