Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

How tough is it?

DungareedollDungareedoll Registered User Posts: 967 Member
edited April 2011 in Stanford University
Ok so my S was accepted and we are all still in a state of shock, but now as a mom I am worried about the competitive nature of the sutdent body. My S comes from a competitive high school and has done well but never enjoyed high school because there was such a lack of commaraderie. How is it at Stanford? Obviously retention rates are great but do kids really love it? Do they know how to relax and take in the beautiful sunny weather? Are there any science majors out there that can speak about their experiences? I would really like to hear what they have to say, since my S wants science.

I have read all the rankings, fiske, princeton reviews and everything points to Stanford being nearly perfect but is it really? Can it be true?

Any comments wour be appreciated.

Post edited by Dungareedoll on

Replies to: How tough is it?

  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    Dungareedoll, congratulations to your son! To answer your question: your son will be surrounded by amazingly capable peers at Stanford, but there is lots of camaraderie among students, and loads of support from faculty and other support services. Academic expectations are high, and the quarter system is fast-paced, so students need to have good time-management skills to thrive. Since most everyone here was an extremely high-achieving student in high school, it usually takes a quarter or so to adjust to the more-collaborative college mentality. As is true everywhere, pre-meds are probably the most focused on grades, since med school admissions is such a number-driven process, but most students don't obsess about them. We have an exceptionally happy student body here, judging from what my friends at other top colleges report to me, and yes, the great weather is a big plus for mood, fitness and overall experience. People do get stressed out around exams sometimes, as they do everywhere, but it seems to me almost all of that stress is self-imposed, and kind of a relic from high school when grades really were a huge deal for gaining admission to top colleges. As I mentioned, after about a quarter or so, students have largely adjusted to the different environment and expectations of college, know how to pace themselves better, and have learned how to take advantage of the incredible variety of opportunities Stanford provides. Hope this helps!
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    Zenkoan: Thank you for your reply. What are you studying and what year are you in?
  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    ^I'm a freshman, and I haven't determined my major(s) yet. I'm taking a wide variety of classes this year. Among them have been a physics class and a chem class, since you asked about sciences.
  • emgamacemgamac Registered User Posts: 309 Member
    Everything Zenkoan said has been the same experience for our sophomore D. She LOVES Stanford. She works very hard and doesn't sleep enough. She also has a great circle of friends and active life. There are some minor imperfections but no place is perfect.

    Feel free to pm me with additional questions.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,217 Senior Member
    Despite being bright and taking classes with the smartest kids in her high school, my D dislikes nerdiness and avoided academically-hyper people like the plague--you know, the kind that are always obsessing about grades, talking about tests, treating you like the competition. She is very, very happy at Stanford and loves everything about the place. She was never a malcontent or a whiner, but not a Pollyanna either, and I have not heard even one single complaint about Stanford, her classes, the people--nothing. She hasn't met more than one fellow student who doesn't like the school. Happiness pervades the place. By all means, if you think it's a fit, encourage him to attend!

    The students do indeed help each other and the upperclassmen have been a great source of advice for my D. So, yes, I'd say there's great camaraderie in her experience.
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    Thank you everyone.... Thats all very exciting news. We will be visiting for the Admit weekend and we are psyched!

    If anyone can think of anything else please post....
  • IgorSmerdyakovIgorSmerdyakov Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    Not so tough. It is much tougher at Berkeley. As has been noted by grateful parents, above, Stanford is expert at making its education a pleasant experience; one both rich in smiles and blessedly free of the presence of the driven and uncompromising and deep. This, to Stanford, is to be construed as a very good thing.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,217 Senior Member
    ^ Right, because with tens of thousands of applications and an admissions rate of 7.1 %, all of Stanford's students are highly unaccomplished, weak-willed, and superficial. And I suppose this must be true because intelligence and happiness are mutally exclusive? Or does the pleasant environment rich in smiles turn the brains of Stanford students to mush? From what my daughter hears from her friend at Berkeley (you know, that other school with the ugly campus, bad food, and miscellaneous effects of the state budget crisis), you all could use some more joy!
  • TripletimeTripletime Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    @Igor... Sounding a little bitter today. What happened? Did someone at Stanford kick sand in your face? Just wondering...
  • Senior0991Senior0991 Registered User Posts: 2,380 Senior Member
    OP it's what your son will make of it.

    If he wants to stress out and be constantly working, there are definitely people here he can associate with. As long as he avoids some of the row houses at least.

    On the contrary, if he wants to be totally chillax, study once in a while for the midterms and finals, and get Cs and graduate he can do that too. There are definitely people here he could associate with, although maybe he shouldn't stick to dorms all four years.

    If he wants to be somewhere in the middle, stressing once in a while but having at least a bit of fun almost every day, taking enough classes for his major in addition to ones that interest him, he can definitely do that too. There are a LOT of people he could associate with.

    On the whole though I think Stanford students like to create stress unnecessarily. A lot have trouble breaking from their high school habits. That said rarely, if ever, does this stress lead to competition among students. Even in biocore, the ultimate premed class, there is a very tangible atmosphere of collaboration.

    Regarding your perfect comment, no place is perfect. No place can be perfect. I would prefer if Stanford students cared more about sports. Yet if Stanford was a sports-fans paradise, I guarantee some other student would be unhappy. There was a google doc sent around where students anonymously listed things they wish were different at Stanford. Many students conflicted in their desires. Although one consistent desire was that, if a student were to become unhappy, they would ideally not feel as alone, or weird for not not enjoying their experience "enough."
  • Kisho3Kisho3 Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    Wow thank you all for all the positive images and insights about Stanford! Your words have truly helped me =] Thank you all very much, I truly appreciate the build-up of positive images you are building for Stanford in my head.
  • ajimmykidajimmykid Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    I've been at Stanford for five years (from undergrad to now masters) and I can't say enough good things about the place. I think it was the perfect school for me, and I think it is the best place in the world to be right now (no exaggeration).

    With that said, the range of people you meet at Stanford is as diverse as it is anywhere else. Sure the distribution is skewed towards happy, skinny, liberal, fun-loving students but there's always going to be students as well that obsess over grades, binge drink, do hard drugs, brag about their accomplishments. Anything that you think Stanford is not – there probably is someone who does that here. And that's going to be true of every school. Wherever your son ends up, he'll find the people he wants to be with. So what I'm saying is this question is moot because we can generalize all day, but every person is an individual here at Stanford. And because of the vast diversity people have no problem finding their niches and cliques.
  • IgorSmerdyakovIgorSmerdyakov Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    "@Igor... Sounding a little bitter today. What happened? Did someone at Stanford kick sand in your face? Just wondering... "

    Wonder, and too few do wonder, deserves my deep respect. So I answer: No, not at all bitter. Stanford pleasantly accepted me, and when I visited its pleasant campus all was indeed most pleasant-from the admissions officer to the zoology professor. It was also uninspiring, filled with folk as disinterested in driving to the nature of things as they were socially agreeable and amiably correct in all things a modern young 'un is cultured to be correct in. Those met there will no doubt develop into fine professionals, sharp lawyers, skilled doctors, competent bureaucrats, able engineers, successful businessmen. That is all admirable. But no genius. Nor even understanding of the distinction between genius and good studentry, between Perlman and the guy who scribbled "Art of Problem Solving", between the great scientists and the gentlemen who create hockey stick charts out of statistical whole cloth. And so, to parents hoping their children have a pleasant stroll through a training in the professional arts--free of other, troublesome, souls who cause one to.......well, to wonder -- then Stanford is near perfect in this regard.

    As for myself, that visit was most illuminating. There was, I saw, as CC enjoys phrasing it, a "lack of fit".
  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    ^LOL, Igor. No one as pretentious and deluded as you sound could possibly exist, but I certainly enjoyed your caricature. Every year around decision time there appears this kind of obnoxious screed in this forum (and in the forums of Stanford's peer colleges), and it's entertaining every time. I trust you are practicing your "good studentry" (including your penchant for neologisms) in an institution worthy of your demonstrable genius!
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    Okay so heres another question. I just found out that Stanford in the largest campus in the US and the second largest in the world. So my question is as follows: Does stanford still have a "bubble" feeling? Or do you feel like you live in a large city of college students and getting from one place to the next is a bus ride? (ie. we visited Penn State. Its a great school, students were geniunely happy, but it was so spread out, that you felt like you needed to 'yoodle' to speak to a neighbor. We thouht the same of Cornell. Unlike a school like Tulane where theres 7000 kids in a very definite area and everything is a 1-15 minute walk in any direction. Whats it like for Stanford?

    (BTW we liked all the schools I mentioned. They just had different feelings due to their vastness or like there of.)
This discussion has been closed.