- Class: Senior
- Major: International Relations
- Gender: M
- High School:
- Transfer Student:
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.
Techies (engineering, natural sciences) and fuzzies (social science, humanities) have a very different experience with the school--there is respect between some of them, but often there isn't, and techies are treated as neurotic nerds, fuzzies as students who don't learn anything substantive. I myself was a "***y" - double in international relations and symbolic systems (CS/Psych/Phil of Mind/Linguistics, and got a taste of both worlds. The University's policies don't help here because techies and fuzzies are treated so differently... If you are in a techie major, expect to pay a lot of money to get taught by TAs in huge classes. You will invest countless hours in your work for 3 units credit per class or you will fail. The curve is vicious enough you might just fail anyway. But if you teach yourself and survive the ordeal you will have a very marketable degree. If you are in a fuzzy major, expect to have an intellectual orgy with small classes, great teaching, with little work required for 5 units of credit and an easy "A." Enjoy your college years and good luck finding a job; you'll need it. Justifiably, most technical students feel cheated since they essentially pay to fund the humanities students... they DO have to work harder, so there's some truth to the idea they are the only ones on campus doing real work. I consider myself bright analytically, a former math nerd, and struggled to make A's in CS. I am a good but not brilliant writer and qualitative thinker. Earning A's in History and Psychology came with no real effort. Unfortunately this dynamic often gets falsely carried over to the idea that those who go into humanities are not smart and don't work hard. I don't believe that at all... But for those who shortsightedly measure things by grades...
The students are some of the most incredible people I have met, and the number one reason I would choose Stanford again if offered the choice. They are diverse in interests, outlook, and personality, and most defy the stereotype of the over-studious study rat. There's so many things one can get into... a cappella, social dance, Alternative Spring Break, Stanford Film society, language theme houses... and most end up pursuing many different things outside class. Deep, spontaneous philosophical discussions happen often; more often than is even good for grades. I think more than most of the Ivies, Stanford attracts the Renaissance wo/man. Stanford students push their boundaries in many different directions, not just their career path.