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I love Stanford! More to come in a video (soon)
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The best part about Stanford is the people. Everyone is so interesting. If you ever want to do anything--from starting a band to starting a company--you will always find amazing people who will help you make it happen. People are pretty fun-loving, and there's always something going on. Over the course of this year alone I've been to Tahoe on ski trip, gone to play laser-tag with my dorm, gone on a dorm trip to Tijuana, played guitar hero, played capture the flag in the quad, been into San Fran 10 times, gone into Palo Alto zillions of times, been to Santa Cruz, road-tripped down to LA, played mini-golf, been on a boat cruise, gone wine tasting in Napa, been to Six Flags, among many other things. The second-best thing is the campus/weather. It never gets old walking through the quad at night, or riding my bike around campus during the day. I love going swimming and lying out in the sun after, and I love taking runs to the dish in the afternoon. Palo Alto is great, although there's not much night life. Its got tons of great restaurants, cafes, breakfast places, bakeries, and trendy frozen yogurt shops like Red Mango and Fraiche. There are a few bars, but night life is very much centered around campus so not too many people go. If I had to change anything, I would probably change the weather in the winter (it can get kind of rainy and dreary, but its usually only half the time). I'd also change the housing situation. Since everyone mostly lives on campus all four years, it's difficult to get nice housing. The draw is a total toss-up. There aren't many places with singles or 2-room doubles, so most people end up jammed into a room with another roommate or two. That works out great freshman year, but after a few years you really want you're own space. And more of it. Overall, Stanford has been great. I can't believe I only have one year left--I wish I could start all over again.
What I loved the most about Stanford was the atmosphere of such academic excellence that it was hard for me not to be motivated to do more, to learn new things, etc. Since I was an international students, I was stunned by the variety of books on my country, book that I am sure, some of the colleges at home do not possess. I appreciated the diversity of the student body and the tolerance with which we all treated each other. The entire school really prides itself for what it is - even we, the grad students, that were at Stanford for a, relatively, short period of time, enjoyed cheering our Stanford sport teams and wearing clothes with the famous 'S' ( I still love to do it!). I had only great experience with the administration and still do. Namely, when I returned home and was about to start working, I had to submit the transcripts to my employer, and I was pleased with the promptness and readiness to help by the Stanford administration. When I was not studying in the library, I enjoyed visiting the Dish or hanging around the Hoover Tower. It was such a blessing to be able to live on such a beautiful campus.
The best thing about Stanford is that there is always potential for interesting and intelligent conversations whether the people are drunk, high, or just having a regular weeknight dinner. One thing I'd change is the proportion of international students--at least 25%. I'd also like the school to be located in a big city. The school is just right in terms of size. I spend most of my time at my dorm. I really like dorm life. Stanford is very much into campus life. The college "town" is not really existent. Palo Alto shuts down every day around 8:00pm. Stanford's administration makes a point of appearing very enthusiastic and involved in student life, but when there are complaints or problems, they don't really react efficiently or appropriately. The selection process of the new Tree mascot was the biggest recent controversy on campus. Is there a lot of school pride--yes and no. It's very polarized.
Stanford's campus is just too big. As far as population goes, its middle of the road at about 15,000 people, but it feels like so many more because the campus is so huge. The college town is pretty lousy. Palo Alto used to cool until the dot com boom and then a bunch of yuppies moved in making it preposterously pompous and expensive. Going to Stanford is a pretty big boon to people's self-esteem. The brand is a pretty big deal, especially on the West Coast. The administration at Stanford has good intentions, but they have a bad habit of condoning less-than-stellar ethics when it comes to admissions and hiring. There is almost too much school pride. It's pretty fun to get wasted and go to the football games, but it gets old pretty fast.
The best thing is the busy-ness. There's always something going on, and it's a very vibrant place to be. Other pros: good student body size (not too big or small); the university has lots of money so it's easy to get funding for projects as an undergrad; the housing is pretty good in general. Cons: Palo Alto is BORING (but San Francisco is not that far away.); the bureaucracy is horrible to deal with; there's not a whole lot of racial or economic diversity.
The BEST thing about Stanford is the people you are surrounded by, and the residential education program which makes meeting and getting to know your peers easy. There is programming right in the dorms all the time, and since such a high percentage of students live on campus, there is a real culture of dorm programming being fun, exciting, and completely worth while.
Stanford is the kind of place where opportunities abound. The faculty truly value close interaction with undergrads. If you're driven, ask a ton of questions, and meet the right people, then the sky is the limit. You can do literally anything.