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Facts About Stanford University

Located in Palo Alto, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University offers the excellence and prestige of its East Coast Ivy League sisters, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. However, Stanford offers what many perceive as a distinct advantage over Harvard, Yale and Princeton – sunshine and mild winters.

An hour away from San Francisco and even closer to San Jose, Stanford students have lively, urban centers to explore in their spare time. However, many students find the vibrant atmosphere on campus more than enough to suit most of their needs, never needing to leave the Farm, as Stanford is called by those in the know. (The nickname arose because Leland and Jane Stanford, the founders, once owned a horse farm on the site of the current campus.)

Jane and Leland Stanford founded Stanford in 1884, in memory of their son, Leland Jr., who died at 15 of typhoid fever. The Stanford vision for their new university was unique and nontraditional.

Stanford was coed from its inception – decades before most private universities. Stanford was also nondenominational, at a time when most schools had official religious affiliations. According to the Stanford University website, Leland and Jane wanted a university with a practical purpose that would produce, cultured and useful citizens when most (universities) were concerned only with the former.

Today, Stanford University fulfills the Stanford mission by requiring all undergraduates to complete course work across numerous disciplines. In addition to fulfilling requirements for their major, all undergrads have requirements in the following fields:

  • Writing and rhetoric;
  • One year of a foreign language;
  • Introduction to the Humanities courses (IHUM);
  • One course from each of the following disciplines: engineering and applied sciences, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences, and
  • Education for Citizenship: Two courses in at least two of the following subject areas – ethical reasoning, the global community, American cultures and gender studies.

Stanford also offers freshman and sophomore seminars, which give underclassmen a chance to get to know Stanford’s faculty in small classes from the moment they arrive.

Stanford is truly ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse. Students come from 49 states and 55 countries worldwide, with just over one third of admitted students from the state of California. Stanford’s ethnic and racial diversity mirrors that of the State of California. Only 42% of the student body self-identifies as Caucasian.

Fun facts:

  • Stanford bucks the trend with its motto, too. Instead of the traditional Latin, Stanford’s motto is: Die Luft der Freiheit weht,” which is German for “The Wind of Freedom Blows,” a quote from 16th-century humanist Ulrich von Hutten.
  • Frederick Law Olmstead, of Central Park fame, oversaw the planning and architecture of the campus.
  • Stanford offers study abroad opportunities in Australia, Beijing, Berlin, Florence, Kyoto, Moscow, Oxford, Paris and Santiago.
  • Stanford also offers three-week academic excursions to sites around the world including, Morocco, Brazil, and South Africa.