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Stanford University

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Describe the students at your school.

I don't think there is enough radicalism on campus, but part of that might be because I am not highly engaged in those communities. I have spent some time in the political activist circles, and I just remember feeling so frustrated at how difficult it is to get other students to care about these prevalent and overwhelmingly important issues. That is the trade off for Stanford students being so busy and engaged in what they are doing--they often don't have time to be "sidetracked" by other important things you are doing. I don't know that there is necessarily a type of student who would feel uncomfortable at Stanford, because I feel like there are a lot of niche communities, and everyone seems to find people they can relate to and form solid relationships with. There is definitely interaction between the different types of students, as long as both are open-minded to each other. For example, one coop I lived in is directly across the street from one of the most notoriously "fratty" fraternities. Every year for Halloween the fraternity and the coop have a "Pumpkins and 40s" party, where frat guys dress up as crazy hippies with flowing skirts and marijuana leaf necklaces, and coop hippies dress up as ridiculous frat guys, with three pastel polo shirts with starched popped collars and designer sunglasses. It is a hilarious satire, all in good jest, and together the two houses drink beer and carve pumpkins. Most Stanford students are solidly middle to upper class, but I think for the most part the issue of economic status is pretty well masked at Stanford (unless someone intentionally wants to make theirs known). I'm not sure whether that is a good or bad thing, but it seems to be the case. Students are definitely predominantly left, but there is still a healthy amount of political debate (at least on the individual level, but definitely not on the university-sanctioned event level). There is a wider representation of the political spectrum amongst the faculty, with the Hoover Institute and the Economics department being notoriously conservative.

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There is only one kind of student that would feel slightly out of place here. One of the kinds of students that would feel out of place would be the student that didn't do any extra activities in highschool, didn't get straight A's, and never did well on the AP tests. This is basically the very average of highschool students that somehow got into Stanford one way or another. I happen to face this personally. It is difficult to be among your friends while they talk about how easy a class is and how they don't do this or don't do that. The thing to remember is that you are in the same exact place as they are and that is a fact. Sure, they may have had much better grades in highschool than yourself, but there is something that you have that sets you apart from them. From my knowledge most students interact with most other students. The athletes with the CS majors, the men and women, the graduates and freshman. There are four tables in the dining hall. What do I see? Well, I am going to explain what I see pretty literally. The table I sit at is filled with people that live in my same dorm. I live in the Asian - American themed dorm, so most of them are some sort of Asian. This dorm of mine is in the center of the freshman dorm. That means that the rest of the tables are filled with, yes, freshman (I am a junior). At lest one of the tables will be talking about the coming presidential elections. Another table will be talking about how their Intro to Humanities classes all suck (these are mandatory for all freshman and they also suck). The last table is talking about anything ranging from dorm Snow Trips to a musical or random stuff on the internet, which is usually the case.

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What do most students wear to class? Flip flops, casual summer clothes. Where are most Stanford students from? California (~40% I think). But there are many international students, and lots of opportunities to meet people from diverse backgrounds. A lot of my friends are international, which is great for broadening my world perspective (and also places to stay when I travel :) Political leanings? Left mostly. But actually, many students would qualify for center because a lot of us can be apathetic about politics (pre-Obama, that is). Do students talk about how much they'll earn one day? Definitely. This is possibly more a hallmark of Generation Millenium than Stanford students. But common themes seem to be both making a lot of money, as well as saving the world (not necessarily incompatible goals). Stanford has an especially entrepreneurial environment, given it's location in the heart of Silicon Valley. It's not uncommon here for people to start their own companies while they are still in school.

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Stanford is a very relaxed place and is ostenstatiously diverse, with lots of minority representation and a small but growing LGBQ community. However, this superficial tolerance often conceals serious tension between different religious and ethnic groups. There are plenty of rich kids and children-of-the-famous, but also lots of students from middle- and lower-class socioeconomic backgrounds. Everyone mixes pretty freely. Campus style is pretty bland, with a lot of sweats and flip-flops, though people have been getting more stylish over the last year or so. People tend to be friendly, relaxed and pretty egalitarian. People who care about art and style may initially feel out of place; they find their scene, but often more slowly. There are a fair number of attractive people, but dating is hard and people tend to be hesitant about relationships. Also, though the LGBQ scene is improving, attractive gay men and women are hard to come by and dating is near impossible.

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I have the most experience with the Black community and the international community at Stanford. Being a part of the Black community was both comforting and challenging; I'm from Ethiopia, so while I identify as Black, that identity is somewhat different from being Black and African American. Stanford students are generally liberal, but racism and other forms of discrimination do happen. I don't know if there is any one type of student who would feel comfortable/uncomfortable at Stanford, I just think it depends on the smaller community they are a part of, most importantly their dorm. Students here are very casual about the way they dress - I've worn PJs to class a few times. You get a range though, there are also students who won't be caught dead not looking their best.

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Overall, very unpretentious. BUT there's always that one person in your introductory freshman class you'll want to strangle after they raise their hand for the fifth time to highlight just how very smart they are. Overall, very busy. Typically, the academics will make up 70 to 100% of our busyness. The rest usually involves student group involvement, extracurricular hobbies, and socializing. Overall, very liberal. Those who are aren't liberal tend to keep their views to themselves - in fact, I remember one professor beseeching conservative students to speak up in a lecture class. Either none were there or the few who were felt too outnumbered to speak up. Overall, awesome. It's very easy to find people you like. Assuming you're not a hardcore conservative.

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The student body is great. The best part of the school, in my opinion. I met people from countries I never knew existed (ok, well, countries I didn’t think about on a regular basis at least), and everyone was involved in extracurriculars. The only students that might feel really out of place are very poor students. It’s the one aspect of Stanford’s diversity that I thought was lacking. Everyone seems to be from at least the middle-class, and most students come from very well-to-do families. In general, students are very liberal, which sometimes clashes with the more conservative body of professors (such as the Hoover fellows). There were more independents in my Polisci 1 class than there were Republicans.

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I traveled in many circles, but, that being said, groups are clique-ish. I can imagine minority racial groups feeling out of place, but perhaps more so in the classroom, as there are many racially-focused student groups. Different students sometimes interact. Four tables of students: athletes, sorority girls, fraternity boys, programmers. Most Stanford students are Asian and from California (I'm neither). Financial backgrounds: wealthy. Students are not generally politically aware, except with regard to narrow issues such as LGBT rights, but the majority proclaim themselves to be Liberals. Students don't often talk about money.

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Lots of diversity on campus- from theme houses to social awareness programs. All lifestyles are accepted, and whatever group you fit into there will be plenty of people like you. There are students from all over the world. I like to say that I could go anywhere in the world and be able to stay with someone I know or someone they know. Most people are liberal. Very few people brag or boast about backgrounds. One of my very good friends/drawmate is a millionaire, but I didn't know it for an entire year. Very few are stuck up. It seems that everyone did some sort of sport in high school, even if they aren't an athlete at Stanford.

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Stanford University is among the most liberal universities in the country. San Francisco lifestyle definitely had its influence on the collage life. The gay community is very active and well accepted. All religions are present and can be practiced without intimidation and racial diversity is one of the mane emphasizes of the university. Students usually wear flip flops, t shirt and shorts. The only way people could not fit in is by wearing a Rolex to class. But even then: just take it of and be part of the casual and fun Stanford community.

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