College Essays

Dear Jack,

Stanford students are known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or experience that you found intellectually engaging.



Mr. Stanford,

Well this one time I had to write an essay about something ‘intellectually engaging’ and I found that really interesting. Like, how can we even determine what’s ‘intellectually engaging’. What’s enthralling for one person may barely hold the attention for another. When you were a kid, everything was ‘intellectually engaging’. The doorbell’s chime might have entertained you for hours. On the other hand, now that you’ve grown up, your own kid’s bell chiming drives you crazy.

But perhaps we can narrow down this topic with the ‘intellectual’ part of the question. Something that is ‘intellectually engaging’ should go beyond just holding your attention, but also challenge you or your world view. This however, smashes awkwardly straight into an endless amount of multifaceted factors such as cultural background, geographical location, and societal position. Snow for Bostonians is a natural, annual occurrence. Texans seeing snow for the first time though however might be struck dumb with wonder and awe. A more abstract example, Jackson Pollock’s paintings in some eyes are masterpieces and in others the scribblings of a madman or child.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is I found John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath to be a great book.

I’m sorry,


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