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Overall, Stanford is a pleasant place with interesting people, good academics and an attractive campus. Common complaints include: too far from a big city (ie, San Francisco- Palo Alto and San Jose don't count), not enough social life, bad dating prospects. How quickly you will like Stanford depends largely on what kind of person you are: if you like sweatpants, hip-hop and Econ, come right in. If, on the other hand, you prefer skinny jeans, indie bands and CompLit, campus will seem less welcoming initially. But with six thousand undergraduates you can meet literally any kind of person you want, and people tend to find their niche.
Going to Stanford was one of the best decisions I have made. The dorms are great and dorm staff are well-trained to deal with students' emotional and psychological problems should they occur. There is a very open policy toward alcohol use, in the sense that RA's are treated as counselors, not police. So the RA's themselves want to help you, not go out to catch you red handed. The freshman dorm experience will make for one of the most fun years of your existence. However, the schools larger administration and bureaucracy is inefficient, disorganized, unhelpful, and rude (though I don't think this is necessarily abnormal at a University.) A warning: these overall administration people are there to safeguard Stanford's money and reputation... they will almost always prioritize it over the success and welfare of individual students. Case in point is the alcohol policy, which is becoming more restrictive and authoritarian by the day outside the dorms. Reason being, Stanford is afraid of being sued. In keeping with this, the Stanford cops are really despicable. Not only will they treat you like the s*** of the earth for running a stop sign... on a BICYCLE, but they go overboard in looking to give MIPs and catch students with alcohol to bust them.
anonymous guy Senior
Stanford is amazing. Palo Alto is not a college town, but Stanford offers a lot on campus, from great food to fun, well-attended frat parties.
The best thing about Stanford? The freshman dorms! Yes, they can be intense and overwhelming, as some have 90-180 people, but I made most my best friends freshman year and really had a great time. Also, the weather and the Bay Area. San Francisco is only 40 minutes away. At Stanford the weather is gorgeous, campus is gorgeous. If you like the outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, nature preserves, sailing, kayaking, rock climbing, none are more than about a fifteen minute drive away. Even after four years of the same walks to classes etc, I never cease to be amazed by the natural beauty on campus and the surrounding areas. College town? Palo Alto is about a mile away from campus, which is a fifteen minute walk or a 5 minute drive. It's a yuppie town with some reasonable restaurants, a couple of cool theatres, but ultimately more for 30 year old Silicon Vally execs than college students. The night life is minimal, although there are a couple of good bars, including the Nut House (California St.) and Nolas (off University) that are fun. In recent years it has also become dominated by coffee shops with wifi, so there are good places to study.
Stanford was great. Despite the fact that it's pretty mid-sized there's a plethora of different activities and niches to immerse yourself in and no lack of opportunities. The down side of Stanford is that compared to other colleges at its level the student body, although brilliant, tends to be quite vanilla and surprisingly anti-intellectual. The up side is that there's tons of low hanging fruit in terms of really interesting opportunities if you want to do Stanford funded adventures, work with eclectic and top-notch faculty and just expand your horizons. For instance, Stanford funded me to go to the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, Yellowstone National Park, the Galapagos and I was able to study in Monterey and on a 135' tall ship for a month.
The best thing about Stanford is definitely the people. Although at first it is easy to feel lost and not feel like you have a great connection with people you meet, especially since freshman dorms are a total crap shoot and many people come from a group of incredibly close-knit friends from home, but once you do find a community you fit into, the people are awesome. I've met so many inspiring, creative, passionate people who are genuinely just good people. I think Stanford's size is just right. Not so small that you aren't always meeting new people, but not so big that you feel lost in the crowd. One thing that can be hard about going to Stanford is, when you are away from the farm, telling people you go to school there. I often try to avoid it, and I know many other people who do the same. People definitely react strongly, and definitely change their perception of you. Young people at state schools all the sudden think you are an elitist, or that ridiculously smart kid in their high school classes that was annoying and answered all the questions right. They think you don't know how to have fun or relate to people. Adults or the ambitious type often think you are a greater force to be reckoned with, and might take you more seriously. I spend most of my time on campus at the Earth Systems office (my undergraduate major has a sweet lounge where students hang out), in classes, or in the library. I like it though. Once you find something you love studying, spend time in a rigorous academic community is thrilling and inspiring. I also spend a lot of time just chilling with my friends in my coop. Palo Alto is a miserable college town. It has a few hole-in-the-wall kinds of places that are nice to be at, but there is nothing worse than going out on a Friday night to a bourgeoise bar and being surrounded by all other Stanford students. However, San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz are all amazing places. If you make it a priority to get out more, there are tons of awesome things to do in those places. It is more of a trek though. There isn't a whole lot of overt school pride, but I think people really do love Stanford and appreciate all of the amazing things it has to offer.
Nicole SeniorReviews provided by: Unigo