MIT and Stanford are not the same, despite their 4% admit rate

By Maxine Seya

Both Stanford and MIT accepted about 4% of applicants into the Class of 2025. Most people look at this and think they must have a 4% chance of getting into either of those schools. That is a myth.

So many people are surprised when their cousin’s girlfriend’s brother’s coworker gets into MIT with a 3.8 GPA, but a 4.95 GPA student down the street gets rejected. But there’s a good reason for this.

Building off last week’s case study, we’ll investigate why this happens.


Stanford’s Common Data Set from 2020-2021 shows that there are 9 application factors considered “Very Important,” 0 considered “Important,” and the rest either “Considered” or “Not Considered.”

9 “Very Important” factors for Stanford admissions

  1. GPA
  2. Test scores
  3. Ranking
  4. Recommendations
  5. Essays
  6. Rigor
  7. Extracurriculars
  8. Talent
  9. Character

Note: test scores are optional for Class of 2027.

Race and first generation status are considered, but not important or very important.

This means that a first-generation American Indian Stanford admit, contrary to popular belief, did not get into Stanford only because of his minority first generation status.

CDS shows what does stanford look for

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.