Like Yale, a number of the parties at Harvard also happen in suites, esp. the party suits such as the 10 man or the bell tower in the houses. Some of the organizations with their own buildings (besides the final clubs) such as The Crimson or The Advocate or Lampoon will also host parties, though the 'feel' will be very different.
Nope not remotely. You can have a lovely four years here, whatever your gender, without stepping foot in one. There are a lot of House suite parties (i.e. upperclass dorms)--usually 1-5 per House (of which there are 12) per House per weekend. There are also organization parties/athletics/private parties of which I don't have such a good idea of numbers. Depends very much on social scene. Mock Trial gets all incestuous over one another all the time, e.g., while other clubs don't form such an exclusive social outlet for their members. Finals clubs, too, (and a couple frats) but not "most" by any means.
Stanford party scene freshman year, for the most part, is pre-gaming in dorms and then going to frats or houses that have all-campus parties. In later years, partying revolves more around the residences (progressives, special dinners), organizations (club parties), smaller house parties, and Greek mixers (which are exclusive to Greek community). Party nights are Wednesday through Saturday, with Wednesday and Thursday generally being more chill stuff with mostly upperclassmen (wine and cheese, beer and pretzels, and so forth...).
Generally, if you want to avoid drinking, loud music, and parties, you can choose to live in 4-class dorms your freshman year, which are generally more subdued. After that, you can live anywhere from frat houses to quiet apartment-style housing.
At Stanford, most parties are at the fraternities and non-Greek houses, but the dorms hold some as well, and there are some special-event parties/traditions (e.g. Mausoleum Party, Full Moon on the Quad). Stanford has a rating scale for parties - level-1 is an in-room party, 2 is invite-only, 3 is all-campus, forget what 4 is, and 5 is open to off-campus people (each level except for 1 requires registration, has different requirements for security, etc.). Each weekend, usually starting on Thursday, there are 1s galore, tons of 2s as Senior0991 describes, and several level-3s as well. On rare weekends there aren't any level-3s, e.g. sometimes during midterms.
I'm not sure whether the social space problem at Harvard includes party spaces, but you can search its newspaper for articles on it, e.g. this one has a survey of freshman.
I'm primarily interested in humanities and social sciences-- maybe International Studies, Linguistics, Anthropology, or Comparative Literature. I also want to study languages like Spanish, Hindi, and Turkish.
Definitely Harvard or Yale given your interests. Harvard and Yale are very intellectual places as well, though I'm biased and would give the nod to Harvard.
Stanford is very different in that students are genuinely not intellectual. I know intellectualism takes on different forms but I did not see any of these forms in Stanford students when I visited. When the students I met there tried to strike up intellectual discussions, their analysis seemed shallow, dogmatic and quite frankly, forced. Intellectualism is just not their style, and that's okay.
Intelligence and Intellectualism are not the same thing; they overlap at some points for sure, but are not analogous. Intellectualism can be a pretense (both good and bad)--it's often a very conscious act, and why not? To parse things deeply requires conscious, and often intense engagement.
Can you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by 'dogmatic and forced'? Maybe some examples if you can come up with some? I'd be really interested.
I've lived most of my life on the right coast, so know more college grads from the New England/mid-Atlantic schools. I wonder how much of this perceived lack of 'intellectualism' has to do with the differences in coastal cultures? For even in Stanford's atmosphere---i.e. if the same students switched places (Harvard's moved to Stanford and vice versa), this perceived difference will still be in place?
In a way, Stanford is an upstart, has a more pragmatic and utilitarian culture and outlook (by way of Silicon Valley and the Stanford's tech legacy), and is less concerned with upholding or maintaining tradition. Harvard and Yale (and east coast schools with longer histories)--for all their involvement in inventiveness and innovation, are also backwards looking in many ways. Witness the importance of institutions at the schools.
This will seem stereotypical, but someone once said that the ibanking job (institutional) will get you props at Harvard while at Stanford, to get the same nod, you need to found the next Google. One maintains, while the other breaks and disrupts. [Ironically, Goldman Sachs cannot survive without new, paradigm shifting companies, while new companies are always very reliant on the services provided by established firms like GS and law firms and accounting firms and so on...]
Last edited by WindCloudUltra; 04-26-2012 at 03:53 PM.
For the disciplines the OP listed:
Linguistics: Stanford > Harvard > Yale
International studies: Stanford = Harvard > Yale
Anthropology: Stanford = Harvard > Yale
Comp lit: Stanford = Yale > Harvard
In general, Stanford and Harvard dominate in humanities and social sciences, with an edge to Stanford (as shown by various rankings - NRC, USNWR, ARWU, THE, QS, etc.).
Re: intellectualism, here's what someone and I recently posted about this:
Originally Posted by zenkoan
I can attest that there is at least as high a level of intellectual engagement among students here. ... The great thing about S is that you'll find a lot less pseudo-intellectual posturing, and attempts at one-upmanship, among students than at some peer schools--students at Stanford tend to be more secure than that, which is another way to look at the cultural differences on the campuses, particularly as experienced by many freshmen as they start out. The SLE program is a great choice for students who want to jump right in to an intensive humanities experience upon arrival--loads of opportunities for those all-night philosophical discussion marathons.
Originally Posted by phantasmagoric
One thing that turned me off to similar universities (Yale, Princeton, UChicago) was that much of, not all, the supposed 'intellectualism' there just seemed forced to me - posturing. You don't need to discuss Kant or postmodern art to be 'intellectual.' For me, what real intellectualism really boils down to is what students are excited about, which is hugely varied at Stanford. Whether it's the Solar Car team or alternative energy initiatives or issues with K-12 education, once students find what they love, their engagement in it is what makes the atmosphere vibrant and intellectual. Of course, everyone has a different take on what intellectualism means to them.
As hackneyed as it sounds, the "passion" that Stanford probes for in its application (e.g. in the intellectual vitality essay) really comes through on campus. Students are truly engaged in things they love, and they'll work themselves to the bone for these things. They'll talk about their passions at length with anyone who will listen. The culture is vibrant/intellectual as a result, but it also puts pressure on you - if you aren't getting out there and doing something you love, you will feel left out and even inferior to your peers. But it does inspire you to find something you're passionate about and follow through with it. Nearly all students do, and that's what makes Stanford's culture great. No posturing, no BS, no pretending to like something you don't - just pure energy on something that engages you.