If you’re looking for an Eastern version of Stanford, think Duke with a touch of MIT mixed in. Stanford’s big-time athletics, preprofessional feel, and laid-back atmosphere differentiate it from Ivy League competitors. In contrast to the hurly-burly of Bay Area rival Berkeley, Stanford’s aura is upscale suburban.
You might think the only difference between Stanford and the Ivy League is a couple hundred extra sunny days each year. You’d be wrong. From the red-tiled roofs to the lush greenery and California vibe, Stanford is a world away from the Gothic intellectual culture of the Ivies. Virtually all the great Eastern universities began as places to ponder human existence and the meaning of life, using European institutions as their models. Stanford, by contrast, built its academic reputation around science and engineering, fields characterized by American ingenuity, and only later cultivated excellence in the humanities and social sciences. Stanford is, without a doubt, the nation’s first great American university.
The differences between Stanford and other institutions it competes against for the country’s top high school seniors are evident everywhere, from the architecture to the curriculum. The school’s mission-style buildings look outward to the world at large, rather than inward to ivy-covered courtyards. And unlike Yale and Princeton, Stanford founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford has been co-ed from the beginning. During its centennial, the school became the first U.S. university to successfully launch a billion-dollar capital campaign; today Stanford’s endowment is $ 12 billion. Some architectural critics say the campus looks like the world’s biggest Mexican restaurant, even though Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City’s Central Park, planned many of the buildings. The campus stretches from the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the edge of Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley, smack in the middle of earthquake country. Newer facilities include the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford Stadium, and the renovated Old Student Union.
Biology and human biology, the quintessential premed preparation, are the most popular programs on campus, followed by economics and computer science. Stanford has also developed a particularly interesting set of interdisciplinary programs. For students who are able to study abroad, programs are offered in Australia, Japan, Chile, England, China, Germany, Italy, Russia, and France. In fact, more than one-quarter of each graduating class takes advantage of these programs. Closer to home, the Stanford-in-Washington program allows 60 students to live, study, and intern in the nation’s capital each quarter. The Haas Center for Public Service offers 50 or so service-learning courses in a wide range of disciplines, while the communications department sponsors the Rebele internship, which offers paid positions at various California newspapers. The Stanford Hopkins Marine Station is located on a mile of coastland in Pacific Grove, next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and offers courses in marine and biological sciences.
Stanford’s general education requirements are extensive. All students take an Introduction to the Humanities course each quarter of the freshman year; they are designed to hone skills through close reading and critical investigation of a limited number of works. Students must also take five courses in Disciplinary Breadth (including engineering and applied sciences, humanities, math, natural sciences, and social sciences), and courses in ethical reasoning, global community, and cultures. In addition, there are writing and foreign language requirements. The Stanford Introductory Studies program includes Freshman Seminars, courses limited to 16 students to enable close discourse with professors. The Freshman-Sophomore College pairs 180 freshmen and sophomores for special programs with faculty and advising staff. The Schwab Learning Center named after alum Charles Schwab offers services for students with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There’s also Summer Research College, designed to create community among undergraduates engaged in full-time summer research on campus, and three honors programs. Potter College provides a residential facility for young researchers.
Don’t let Stanford’s California location fool you into thinking studying is optional it’s more like a full-time job. Classes are challenging, says one senior, but the environment is pretty non-competitive. Stanford’s faculty ranks among the best in the nation, with most departments boasting a nationally known name or two. Professors are considered outstanding scholars with outstanding credentials, and 95 percent of classes are taught by faculty, as opposed to graduate students. The quality of teaching is incredible, a student says. Professors want to teach and get to know undergrads through classes, office hours, and research. Seventy-nine percent of classes have 29 or fewer students.
Despite its upscale image, Stanford tends to have the same demographic profile as its state-supported neighbor in Berkeley. Sixty-two percent attended public high school; 89 percent of a recent freshman class graduated in the top tenth of their class. Forty-four percent of students are from California, while foreign students account for 6 percent of the student population. Minority enrollment is far above average, with Asian Americans accounting for 24 percent of the student body, Hispanics 12 percent, African Americans 10 percent and Native Americans 2 percent. Political debates don’t dominate campus life, but students are socially aware. We are not as politically active as Cal, but we are not apathetic, a senior says. Stanford is the sunny, palm-tree-laced, Spanish-inspired Ivy of the West, boasts a communications major. Just being in California provides a lax attitude.
About 20 percent of Stanford’s students take advantage of its liberal stop-out policy, which lets students take some time off along the way, rather than staying in school for four straight years. Admissions are need-blind, and the university guarantees to meet the full demonstrated financial need of every domestic admit. While there are no merit scholarships, 77 percent of students receive some sort of internal or external financial aid; the university also awards 450 athletic scholarships annually in 35 sports. A recent fund-raising effort added more than $300 million to the scholarship pool, and Stanford has eliminated the expected family contribution for families with annual incomes under $60,000 and has eliminated tuition for families with annual incomes up to $100,000.
Freshmen must live on campus, and Stanford guarantees housing for four years; 95 percent of students stay on campus, with most of the others attending Stanford -in-Washington or other off-campus study programs. One percent of students commute from home, in part because of the lack of affordable off-campus options in the extraordinarily expensive Silicon Valley. Much of life at Stanford is about the dorms, a senior history major says. They are a source of community and are well run. As students gain seniority, a lottery system decides where they’ll live. Junior year I lived in an old faculty mansion for 30 students that had a Thai chef, one student says. The multimillion-dollar Governor’s Corner complex includes all-oak fixtures, homey rooms with views of the foothills, microwave ovens
in the kitchenettes, and Italian leather sofas in the lounges. Dorm dwellers must sign up for a meal plan. Campus security is good, students say, and includes an escort service. The biggest concern is bike theft, says one student, which can be solved easily by buying a high-quality lock.
When academic pressures become too great, students seek refuge in the outdoors. Nearby hills are perfect for jogging and biking, and a small lake is great for sailing and windsurfing (the most popular spring physical education class). Palo Alto has fun bars, but isn’t a true college town because of its prices and older population, a senior says. Trips to the Sierra Nevada mountains (four hours away) or to the Pacific coast (45 minutes) are popular, as are jaunts to San Francisco ( just a short train ride away ), Los Angeles, or the Napa Valley.
Like most things at Stanford, activities and social life vary a great deal, although most take place on campus. As tradition goes, freshmen aren’t true Stanford students until they’ve been kissed at midnight in the quad by a senior. Full Moon on the Quad occurs at the first full moon, and features a bevy of first year students eager to receive their initiation (courtesy of a well timed entrance by upper-class students). Greek organizations claim 13 percent of students, and provide their share of happy hours and weekend beer bashes, which are open to all. Underage drinking happens, but is kept under control, students say. The RAs are not required to report instances of drinking, so it’s safe and open, a senior says. Another Stanford tradition is the Viennese Ball, a February event that may make you wish you’d taken ballroom dancing lessons. Halloween finds students partying at the Mausoleum, the Stanfords final resting place.
Stanford has a proud athletic tradition that includes 76 NCAA championships since 1980. Cardinal teams recently won their 12th Director’s Cup, which recognizes the best overall collegiate athletic program in the country. The baseball team has been to the College World Series. The football team has pulled off its share of upsets, and the annual contest against Cal (Berkeley) is the Big Game. The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band proudly revels in its raucous irreverence, to the delight of students and the dismay of conservative types. For those not inclined to varsity play, Stanford offers a full slate of intramurals, and its vast sports complex includes 26 tennis courts, two gymnasiums, a stadium, an 18-hole golf course, and four swimming pools. The equestrian team is housed at the newly renovated Red Barn, where horseback-riding lessons are also offered.
Stanford is the whole package, boasts one senior. The university’s sunny demeanor and infectious West Coast optimism offer an appealing alternative to the gloom and gray weather that seem to hang over some of its East Coast counterparts, with the same high-caliber academics and deep athletic traditions that have made them great. The unique combination of top-tier academics, beautiful weather, championship athletics, fascinating people, and self-deprecating humor you won’t find that anywhere else, one student says.
Article Source: deca.cuc.edu.cn/Community/media/p/750/download.aspx