ACING Stanford University with Tony Wang (’23) | Acing Admissions Advice


Carol Xu

Tony Wang (‘23) was recently admitted to Stanford University through Early Decision. The president of the Speech and Debate Club and National Honors Society Club shares his experience and a few tips on how to get into Stanford.

The following responses were edited for length and clarity.

Why did you choose to apply to this college?

The main factor was its location. I really wanted to find a place that was located in the Bay Area, so I could stay in California weather and be able to easily come back to visit my family and friends.

The second factor was the kind of programs I was looking for. I was looking for a school with a really good computer science program, a field that I’m really interested in. I think the school’s program is really versatile.

The third factor is the community at the school. I think it has a really vibrant culture with a lot of different student clubs and organizations that I am really interested in pursuing and are also really good fits for me. 

What are two of your most memorable or significant extracurricular activities?

One is my work with the Speech and Debate Club. That’s been a club I’ve been in since freshman year. I’m currently serving as President, and we go to a lot of different tournaments, multiple every month pretty much. It’s just a really nice collaborative community and we have so many different events. I think one of the best parts of the club is that we all gain greater confidence because through having these improved public speaking skills, we learn to communicate better, and advocate for ourselves in our communities better as well.

The second one could be my work with the National Honor Society, which I founded during the end of my freshman year, and it started really ramping up during my sophomore year. With that club, we do a lot of different events. Like, for example, we helped organize the annual Donversity Week, where we have a lot of different performances from different clubs and cultures, which is really cool. We’ve also held really successful fundraisers for Halloween. For example, we have candy drives where we donated Halloween candy to families of military veterans, which was really cool to kind of see our hard work pay off like that. We actually got recognition from the national organization for our work. It’s been a really long process of just finding a council of teachers and going through a lot of paperwork, but it’s really paid off. I’m really proud of that club. 

When did you start planning or writing your college essays? 

I started near the end of the summer before my senior year. When senior year started, I had already started working on my essays. 

Can you explain your essay-writing process and how you brainstormed ideas? 

For my essay writing process, I really thought about things that are meaningful to me, things that make me laugh and things that make me sad. I tried listing those out because I think things that matter to you are the things that you’ll be able to write a lot about, and the things that the admissions committee will most likely also be able to connect with, so I would always try to keep that in mind. Also do lots of editing. I think having different drafts and staying organized is really helpful and you shouldn’t be afraid to rewrite things.

What was the hardest essay prompt for you? 

 I think the hardest one was probably the Stanford one that’s like “Write a letter to your future roommate” because that one was just so open-ended. For that prompt, you really have to be yourself, and you can’t just fall back on just using big words. You have to really show your personality, but that was also one of the most fun ones. I had a lot of fun writing that one. That’s also a prompt I think a lot of colleges have and the prompt was definitely something that I really enjoyed.

How did you react or feel when you saw your acceptance? 

I did not believe it at first. I remember I was kind of in shock, for like, the first few seconds, but then I remember just feeling really relieved that I could be done with the process. I got in early, and I was glad that I didn’t have to write any more essays.

What advice would you give to future students applying for this college? 

Some advice would be to really try to show yourself in the application—which I know sounds really cheesy and over said—but I think they can really tell when you’re being true to yourself. Let your personality shine through and then don’t be afraid to talk about any challenges you face. Don’t just talk about the good parts of your life. Maybe talk about things that didn’t go so well, talk about things that you’ve struggled with in the past, or talk about things that you’re scared about for the future. I think those are really unique topics as well.