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too far away to visit...need useful info.

vincovinco Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
edited July 2005 in Stanford University
I am a rising senior in Michigan and i am considering applying to Stanford. However, i know much less about it than i do about the others i will apply too this fall, and since it is across the country, i will not be able to visit the campus. Thus, I am looking for some opinions, details, or anything else from people fairly familiar with the school/campus describing the atmosphere, location, climate, and all those other little facts you would get from an actual tour. Thanks a lot.

Also, is the physics department comparable with Princeton/Chicago/Michigan?
Post edited by vinco on
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Replies to: too far away to visit...need useful info.

  • zephyr151zephyr151 Registered User Posts: 1,659 Senior Member
    It's better than the three you list.
  • f.scottief.scottie Registered User Posts: 1,590 Senior Member
    not necessarily. u.s. news ranks both princeton and stanford third in physics behind caltech and MIT.

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/phdsci/brief/phy_brief.php

    see also:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showpost.php?p=1080420&postcount=12
  • staticsoliloquystaticsoliloquy Registered User Posts: 1,496 Senior Member
    pton doesn't have SLAC
  • vincovinco Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
    Well aside from the physics, can i just get some details about the school in general? (things that would make it stand out from others like it...a reason for me to go all the way to calif. for college...etc.)
  • iv4meiv4me Registered User Posts: 236 Junior Member
    I live in Mountain View, which is a 5 minute drive, and let me just say that the weather could not be better. For most of the year the weather is between 65 and 85 and sunny without it being terribly humid ever. The summers get hot, but not nearly as hot as they are in the midwest or east coast.

    There are beaches which are less than an hour away, but unfortunately, the oceans are kind of cold, so you don't really get a good beach crowd, go look at UCLA and USC if you want seeing bikinis to be a big part of your life. (No condescension there, I love looking at bikinis!) There are a few rainy months out of the year, but it isn't constant.

    And the weather is not nearly as temperamental as it is on the east coast. I was at a camp in Boston and within 2 minutes it went from sunshine to lightning storms. None of that **** happens in Norcal.

    Palo Alto, Stanford's surrounding area, is whack. It's a town for rich people. Everything is crazy expensive and the shops close down early. However, San Jose (the nation's 10th largest city) and San Francisco are 15 minutes and 50 minutes away, respectively.

    In terms of the Stanford campus itself, it's gorgeous. You don't realize how amazing it is until you see the likes of Harvard, Yale, etc. It blows them out of the water. I'll speak about Harvard since I know the campus a bit better than the campuses of the other ivies. When I went to Harvard this summer, I saw some construction going down and a very old, rustic feel. Stanford is completely different. Red tile and red brick are everywhere and laid beautifully. While the buildings don't appear modern, they appear new, and everything is very well taken care of. Overall, I think Stanford's campus is much nicer than Harvard's. I also had the opportunity to stay in Stanford dorms last summer. The dorms I stayed in were OK, nothing special, but they weren't falling apart and they weren't too cramped. I stayed in Rinconada, if anyone reading this is interested.

    I hope this helps, and PM me if you have any more questions.
  • f.scottief.scottie Registered User Posts: 1,590 Senior Member
    sford doesn't have PPPL
  • oib1oib1 Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    My daughter is doing the Stanford Summer Session this summer. My wife and I just visited her for a few days. My first visit to Stanford. General Impression: nice campus but a little sterile in appearance, it's like being in a housing development with five house styles rather than a mature community with different styles of architecture that developed over time. The weather is beautiful but it reminded me of a scence in "Defending Your Life" - where Albert Brooks, in Judgment City, turned on the tv and got the weather - "76 degrees and perfect all the time". I happen to like a change of seasons and the memories associated with leaves changing, the scent of spring arriving, a blanket of snow, etc. It is very dry at Stanford - remember this would virtually all be desert if there wasn't irrigation. Lots of dust and brown foliage. Tuition is incredibly expensive - for the Summer Session and for the regular school year. And remember, the focus at Stanford is on graduate students and programs, not undergraduates.
    We took my daughter to look at Berkeley - in some ways much more beautiful campus, in my humble opinion, than Stanford. More natural, larger trees, better weather (more changeable). And, to my surprise, seemed to be better tended to than Stanford's campus.
    Palo Alto and the surrounding towns are a wasteland. Very expensive stores and restaurants. We were bored there after two days. My daughter also referred to the "Stanford Bubble" - that students don't really leave campus much. I think Stanford is the Norcal equivalent of USC. (not good).
    I'm sure that some Stanford alums will squawk at my comments. I would defend it too if I had spent over $200,000 to go to school there with all of its shortcomings.
  • ForeverZeroForeverZero Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    Well, I prefer Spanish-styled buildings over Gothic ones. Campuses such as Princeton and Georgetown seemed kind of intimidating, more of a place to worship than to study. Stanford's campus is pretty uniform, but absolutely gorgeous nonetheless. In terms of weather, I also like seeing the different seasons, but after years of struggling through floods, blizzards, heat waves, and an occassional hurricane, I'm all for nice sunny weather year-round.
    As for undergraduate life, of course Stanford's prestige stems more from its graduate programs and graduate research, but its undergrad life is exceptional. I highly doubt that Berkeley's more undergrad focused. Besides, any undergraduate can apply for a co-term, which enables students to get a Masters degree in one year.
    As for tuition, it's kind of ironic how nowadays many elite private schools can actually be cheaper than publics. Harvard and Yale just eliminated tuition for students from low-income families. The top schools, even though many don't offer merit scholarships, give generous financial aid offers. I personally got $37k in aid from Stanford, which was the most generous offer I got.
  • zephyr151zephyr151 Registered User Posts: 1,659 Senior Member
    I'm a current student and I'm "squawking." You're damn right we're going to defend it,

    "And remember, the focus at Stanford is on graduate students and programs, not undergraduates. "
    That simply incorrect. You rely on impressions and perceptions, and unfortunately, they are wrong. There wouldn't be a separate, large, fundraising effort for undergraduates (the Campaign for Undergraduate Education) if the administration didn't care. Moreover, the undergrad/grad ratio is better than most big-time schools, especially Harvard. There wouldn't be the extremely well-funded Undergraduate Research Program if undergrads were nobodies, and it offers research opportunities that can't be found at any other large-scale research university.

    What's funny is that this is a Stanford/Princeton thread, and is Stanford compared to Princeton "expensive?" I think not. It's about the same.

    USC and Stanford aren't in the same league. Stanford students don't leave campus because there's so much to do on campus, unlike UCB, and Palo Alto certainly beats the City of Berkeley and the excessive, massive drug usage, draconian police, unkmept atmosphere, high crime rate, etc. That's not where I wanted to spend the next four years, and I'm glad I didn't.

    In terms of campus appearances, your "humble" opinion is mistaken. I saw the UCB campus and didn't like it at all. Moreover, it's also packed with maybe 35,000 students compared to Stanford's much more comfortable 14,000.

    EDIT: and in comparing Berkeley and Stanford, the focus is much more on graduate students at Berkeley. We get the classes we want. Berkeley undergrads don't, and they're taught by grad students anyway.
  • oib1oib1 Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    To be honest - I wouldn't choose Stanford or UCB. I went to Dartmouth College (note college, not university). Beautiful place with heavy, almost exclusive undergraduate focus and a national student body (50 percent of Stanford is from CA). And, to go back to the original question, if I were from Michigan, I'd take a serious look at the University of Michigan (one of the top three public universities) or Wisconsin. Both have honors programs that are comparable to a Stanford education.
  • bullwinklebullwinkle Registered User Posts: 702 Member
    If you will be unable to visit, I'll throw in my 2cents of my impressions of the school from the more mundane types of facts. Stanford obviously has the academic rep and all that that is up there with the best of 'em so I won't bother with that.

    The weather there is great, typically on the warm side for northern california as the foothills around it cut off the ocean air. I would not connect Stanford with the ocean and those stereotypical California images. It's inland and more sort of rolling hills.

    The surrounding area is nice enough, but not like a college town atmosphere IMO. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty upscale residential neighborhood. San Francisco bay area and San Jose are close by, about half hour+ drive.

    The campus is very large, but the actually usable/used space (buildings etc.) is not all that large. The dorms are alright, there's a greek system, but I don't get the impression its all that big of a deal. There's some "theme" housing.

    It's architecture is sorta spanish, early California, western feel, red tile etc. but alot of the newer building is very much of a hodge podge IMO. the more original buildings were designed by the same architect who designed Pomona and Occidental Colleges so if you have any familiarity with them, there is sort of a common feel among them to some extent. Might take the tour on the websites of all 3.

    Not sure what else to add, but I think every campus has a "vibe" and your take will be unique to you. Not to be negative, I just did not like the feel of Stanford. Tough to articulate, except I guess I was completely put off by the admissions tour, the admissions administrator we happened to have and our tour guide. They were so impressed with themselves it was unreal. Got the same vibe from the Dean of Admissions, but I understand there is a new Dean now. But, all that is just me and my impressions and "gut" feel. The point I guess is that if at all possible, at least if you get admitted, definitely visit before you commit to going. Just wasn't my cup of tea as they say.
  • ForeverZeroForeverZero Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    I easily turned down Michigan for Stanford. It's freezing cold for half the year, way too big, not as prestigious, completely grad focused, and for me was actually more expensive. The problem with going to a small school like Dartmouth is that for people who are genuinely interested in such things as scientific research, small colleges won't have the facilities and the resources to accomodate them as much as large research-orinented universities. If you're looking for a close-knit college that offers a general well-rounded liberal-arts education, then go to Dartmouth or an LAC. For those students who enjoy research opportunities, Stanford is virtually unmatched.
  • SusantmSusantm Registered User Posts: 2,188 Senior Member
    I graduated from Stanford way back when, and my son graduated this year. We both had a wonderful experience there. The weather is good usually, but be prepared for a couple months of rain or more. (lots more this year, as it was unusually wet)

    I like the atmosphere at Stanford. It is relaxed. You can dress however you like; it is very informal. There is little of the cut-throat competitive feel. Students tend to work together, rather than compete against each other.

    It also has a wonderful overseas study program. My son spent an academic year in Kyoto, Japan, and absolutely loved it. (And his financial aid was increased to compensate for the extra cost.)

    As others have said, for those without a lot of money, need-based financial aid is great. Of all the schools to which my son applied, Stanford was the most expensive on paper, but the least expensive after financial aid offers were compared. Other schools offered large loans, but Stanford gave much more in grants, and my son was able to graduate with only $7,250 in loans. (He had a couple outside scholarships that also helped reduce loans, but they were quite small. Stanford basically paid his tuition for him.)

    They have some great theme houses, too. My son stayed in the Asian Studies theme house his freshman year, as he was interested in studying Japanese. I lived in a nonviolence theme house, which is still there after all these years. Many others, too. And on-campus groups for every interest.

    Hope this helps a bit...
  • idleridler Registered User Posts: 519 Member
    If you think it might be the place for you, but you can't visit, why not just apply. Then, if you're accepted, you can visit and see for yourself. This is what my Eastern son did, and he chose it in a heartbeat. All of the opinions expressed on this thread are very legitimate ones, but you really have to see for yourself, so wait and see if you're accepted, then visit. The most important factor might just be how you feel about the students you meet on your visit anyway.
  • entropicgirlentropicgirl Registered User Posts: 450 Member
    I second that -- I applied to a couple of longshot east-coast colleges knowing that if I got in, I'd go visit (because there was a real chance that I wouldn't get in, my family decided not to waste money and effort on visiting beforehand). That worked out great for me... so I'd second idler's suggestion that you do that for Stanford.
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