Finding Your Best Fit School: Spotlight on Stanford
This week our client relations manager, Alex, tells us what she loved about attending Stanford University in Stanford, CA.
How could I possibly capture what I love about “The Farm” in a single post?
From the moment I drove down Palm Drive on move-in day and pulled up to my dorm, I felt at home. The RAs already knew my name and student volunteers immediately began unpacking our car and moving me into my new room. Every time I rode my bike past the Oval or Mem Chu (Memorial Church – you’ll find Stanford students love abbreviations) on a sunny day, studied in the Lane Room at Green Library, or met a friend at the CoHo (Coffee House) for a latte, I was reminded how lucky I was to attend school in such a beautiful place.
Over 90% of Stanford students live on campus all four years, making the campus a vibrant community of living and learning. Most social life takes place right on campus. Students share meals with friends at one of Stanford’s many restaurants and dining halls and travel together to fraternity parties and football games (Go Card!).
In addition to the vibrant campus, which has its own zip code and includes everything from a lake to a golf course, Stanford is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, less than an hour from San Francisco by train.
One of the many things I appreciated about Stanford was the myriad of opportunities the university affords its students to explore the Bay Area. Through programming in the residence halls, I went to see SF Giants games, the Broadway musical Wicked, the California Academy of Sciences museum, and, of course, participated in the freshman tradition of a scavenger hunt in San Francisco.
All Stanford dorms also have the tradition of taking a snow trip to Lake Tahoe each winter, enjoyed by both skiers and non-skiers alike. Stanford’s dedication to the undergraduate experience and the fantastic job they do of creating community in the residences was a major factor in my decision to become a Resident Assistant (RA) my senior year.
In addition to the strong campus community and access to the broader Bay Area, one of the things I loved most about Stanford was the diversity. In my freshman dorm alone, we had students from a wide variety of ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We had international students from China, England, Rwanda, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Japan, and world class athletes—one of my freshman dorm mates now plays alongside fellow Stanford alum Andrew Luck on the Indianapolis Colts. During my time at Stanford, I was fortunate to study with, learn from, and befriend students of many different backgrounds, which stretched me to grow both personally and academically.
While it was not easy to part with the Stanford campus in the spring, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made during my time at Stanford. I spent a quarter in Cape Town, South Africa. The Cape Town program was new and was Stanford’s first on the African continent. I chose this program for its emphasis on service learning, partnering with local organizations, and community-based research.
During my time in Cape Town, I worked at a Children’s Home in Khayelitsha Township and participated in a mapping project with community healthcare workers in Du Noon Township. I saw elephants up close on safari in Kruger, explored prehistoric rock art in the Cederberg Mountains, and was challenged to think critically about issues of social justice and international development.
One of the things I appreciated most about the academics at Stanford, both in Cape Town and back on The Farm, was the emphasis on approaching complex problems with an interdisciplinary approach. My major, Human Biology, or Hum Bio, takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the human being from biological, behavioral, social, and cultural perspectives. As a large research institution, Stanford does an excellent job of focusing on strong teaching and encouraging relationships between students and faculty early on in a student’s academic career.
Introductory Seminars, or IntroSems (I told you Stanford students love abbreviations!), are seminars for freshman and sophomores taught by a professor and capped at 10-15 students. My IntroSem on South Africa with Professor Joel Samoff sparked my interest in the country and inspired me to apply to the program in Cape Town. I also took an IntroSem with Carole Dweck about her research on Mindset. Both professor Samoff and Dr. Dweck invited our whole class to their homes for dinner, and I still frequently hear Dr. Dweck’s work referenced in conversation, including in the IvyWise office.
Those are just a few of the experiences that made my time at Stanford so valuable. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Stanford, and continue to stay involved with the university locally in New York City. I recently attended a talk with mayors Corey Booker and Julian Castro, both Stanford alums, and look forward to cheering with fellow NYC alums at Finnerty’s when Stanford heads to the Rose Bowl next month!
Insider Tip: Stanford is on the quarter system, meaning that each year has three 10-week quarters – fall, winter, and spring. Take advantage of this system by exploring classes that interest you outside of your major. Also, consider a coterm! The coterm allows students to begin graduate work while finishing their bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing a coterm graduate in five years with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. It’s a good excuse to spend an extra year in paradise!