This source claims that a teenager got accepted into Stanford University after writing #BlackLivesMatter, when answering a supplemental essay question,

What matters to you, and why?

Is this true?

  • 14
    The current wording of the question implies that this one answer to one essay question was the sole deciding factor in his admittance. Is anyone claiming that?
    – jwodder
    Feb 8, 2018 at 4:36
  • 2
    @jwodder I read it that such a thing would/should be a strong push toward non-admittance. That seems a more reasonable understanding.
    – user11643
    Feb 8, 2018 at 8:15
  • 4
    Generally, not replying to fake news is better than denying it.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 8, 2018 at 14:26
  • 1
    The article does not claim that this was an "answer to an essay question". It simply says that he wrote it on the application in answer to the question, not that an essay was expected. Feb 8, 2018 at 15:13
  • 4
    @DJClayworth yes, it does "When Ziad Ahmed was asked on his Stanford University application 'What matters to you, and why?”, his answer was clear." It is widely known that Stanford has such an essay question. admitsee.com/blog/… ; apstudynotes.org/stanford/what-matters-to-you-and-why
    – DavePhD
    Feb 8, 2018 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Stanford application instructions state:

Freshman Application Requirements


Stanford Short Essays

Candidates respond to all three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.

1.The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.

2.Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.

3.Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?

NBC News reported:

Stanford University confirmed Ahmed's acceptance to NBC News but declined to further discuss the student's application.


This story is reported by multiple reputable news stories, and we have no reason to doubt it.

Reputable sources that report the story include The Independent, CNN, NBC and Time. All the stories carry similar information.

Some things to note about this story:

  • The question is not intended to show academic or any other kind of skills. It is a 'supplemental essay question' which is 'designed for applicants to demonstrate their personality and passion', and has a 250 word limit.
  • There is no indication that Ziad Ahmed was anything less than qualified because of the other details of his application. Ziad was also accepted to Yale and Princeton.
  • Well, as @DJClayworth's answer notes, this same story has been reported by multiple reputable sources. Pretty much all of them spend time going on about the strength of his activist credentials (intern for the O'Malley and Clinton campaigns, giving a TedxTalk, founding multiple organizations, acknowledged by Obama while in office, picture with Clinton). The "#BlackLivesMatter" wasn't posted just once, but rather 100 times, as the micro-essay had a minimum of 100 words. There might have been some question of whether he actually got in, or whether this was a fabricated stunt, but NBC says that S
    – Ben Barden
    Feb 8, 2018 at 16:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .