Stanford Admissions Essays

Intellectual Vitality


Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. 250 words

     My life is a series of intense fascinations, which I dive into headfirst.

    Age ten. My dad shows me a family tree, and genealogy piques my interest. I collect data about my own family, interviewing relatives whenever I can, and construct a tree spanning hundreds of people stretching back centuries.

    Age twelve: I discover I can program my graphing calculator. I’m hooked, and explore the limits of what other people think is a mere calculator. I write games and a Mandelbrot fractal renderer. The calculator is banned from family dinner, but my head is still filled with “if” statements and matrix transformations while my mouth is filled with spaghetti and meatballs.

    Age thirteen. I compete in an engineering challenge to build a tower out of one sheet of paper. I place second, but I keep designing improved towers and eventually produce one nine feet tall.

    Age fifteen. I create my largest web application yet, EVTripPlanner, which helps people all over the world plan road trips in electric vehicles. A woman in Italy emails me about an issue with the charger database. Hours pass as I hunt down the problem. At four a.m., I find and fix it, and go to sleep satisfied. That night, I dream of code. Later I respond to the Italian woman. She replies “EVTripPlanner is amazing. Keep up the good work!”

    I thrive when immersed in new subjects as I explore what can be done with each piece of newfound knowledge and acquired skill.


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How to cite this essay (MLA)

Anonymous Student. "Intellectual Vitality" Study Notes, LLC., 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Jul. 2024. <>.