High schooler shares cringe essays that DIDN’T get him into Stanford

Read them here


After Ziad Ahmed was accepted to Stanford for writing “#BlackLivesMatter” 100 times on his application, a high schooler has shared the essays that didn’t get him in.

A bold Redditor going by the name cyberzombies uploaded the two essays that got him rejected down by Stanford and the Ivy League.

It’s a twist from the usual stories of students getting into the schools of their dreams with honest and revealing essays.

Highlights include the opening line of essay asking to describe an idea that has been “important to your intellectual development,” which reads: “On the upper left hand corner of my desktop screen, below the icon for Google Chrome, there’s a folder labeled ‘Some Musings.'”

The author goes on to describe his passion with writing, admitting: “I’m a closet author of over half a dozen genres. Whenever I feel inspired, my imagination races, and I scramble to put my thoughts into words.”

“You brave soul,” says one Redditor underneath the essays.

A more brutal response to his second essay, “What matters to you and why?” reads: “This is a pretty boring way to start an essay.” The opening line? “On rainy nights, nostalgia strikes me like lightning.” Ouch.

Read the essays in full below


Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (100 to 250 words)

On the upper left hand corner of my desktop screen, below the icon for Google Chrome, there’s a folder labeled “Some Musings”.

Don’t worry, the contents are innocuous, though I’d still be embarrassed if I had to share it with anyone who’s not a close friend. Double click on the folder, and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll find some completed short stories in the folder, but it’s mostly full of half-finished novels and flash fictions, documents full of incomplete worlds.

I’ll admit it. I’m a closet author of over half a dozen genres. Whenever I feel inspired, my imagination races, and I scramble to put my thoughts into words.

One time, I felt the urge to write my own dystopian tale, complete with its own plague and scattered agricultural communities. With a mission in mind, I scoured the Internet for articles about Cordyceps fungi, crop rotation practices, and everything in between, drawing logical links to previously foreign concepts. Similarly, when I wrote my first conquest-based fantasy story, I researched everything from the organizational structure of the Roman military to how the production of Sapa sweetener caused lead poisoning in the nobility.

By fueling my curiosity, writing propels me towards all other fields. As I craft my own worlds, I’m driven to understand how elements of the real-world function. Most people who meet me will never see the contents of “Some Musings,” but they’ll see its product: a slightly sleep-deprived young man who’s fascinated by everything around him.

What matters to you, and why? (100 to 250 words)

On rainy nights, nostalgia strikes me like lightning.

I stay in bed, listening to the flickering of the raindrops and the bellowing of the thunder. My head is turned. I’m staring at the closet door.

In the closet, there’s a box below the clothes hangers. The box contains an eclectic collection of items, each associated with a different person. The figure of Optimus Prime is from Malcolm, my childhood friend in Dunwoody. The whale shark plushie is from Jeffrey, who bought it for me when we went to the Georgia Aquarium during my last days in Johns Creek. The Chinese fan is from my current girlfriend Catherine, who carried it back from the Jiangsu Province and presented it to me on Christmas.

My eyes look towards the closet door, but my mind is elsewhere. I’m reliving memories: the time Malcolm revealed to me his pride for his African American heritage, the time Jeffrey taught me how to play badminton, the time Catherine took me through the steps of tying a tie.

As I reminisce, I feel both joy and pain. Life has been bittersweet. I’ve lived in nine different places in my seventeen years alive, moving around all the time. As soon as I settle in and make connections, they’re torn away from me.

But my memories cannot be taken away.

The box matters to me because the belongings inside represent tethers to friends, loved ones, communities, the diverse perspectives that shaped me. Nothing is expensive, yet everything is valuable.