Many attempts have been made of late to characterize Stanford. Are we a band of fortune-seeking engineers bent on changing the world? Are we humanists with a love of knowledge and an eye to the past? Are we philanthropists? Troublemakers? Celebrity athletes?
The answer to all of these questions is a paradoxical “yes.” It is a distinct lack of an accurate stereotype that sets the “Stanford student” apart. We are too diverse to be caricature-ized, too passionate to forgo our independent pursuits for a common definition. We revel, you could say, in our randomness.
Just as there is no “typical” Stanford student, there is no conventional Stanford experience. Nor should there be one, conventional Stanford Admit Weekend experience. This post is directed at ProFros (prospective freshmen), and while I could wax lyrical about why I love my school, I shall refrain. I’d rather have you learn it yourself by experiencing it.
You should have a marvelous Admit Weekend – it’s as wonderful and helpful as you’ve been promised. But, overachiever as you likely are, go above and beyond and have a well-informed Admit Weekend experience. Here are my recommendations:
Visit a student group meeting. Sure, the Activities Fair is awesome, and I definitely encourage you to go. But I recommend connecting personally with the groups you’d be most likely to join as a Stanford student. Usually a quick Google search will direct you to a website full of meeting times and contact info. True story: the current engineering lead of Solar Car attended his first meeting during his Admit Weekend because he’d read this article about the former team lead. Find people who inspire you, and get to know them!
- Explore the underground arts. There’ll be abundant arts events publicized just for Admits, but I found it easier to meet and connect with current students at smaller events like a comedy night at Hillel. Persuade your RoHo (room host) to explore the Cantor Arts sculpture garden with you by night to get a sense of the magnitude of arts resources on campus.
- Kick it at the student hangouts. Grab some new friends (ProFros or students) and try a) a burger at the Axe & Palm (Stanford lingo: current students call it “TAP”), b) ice cream at the Alumni Cafe, c) a chocolate croissant at the CoHo (coffee house), or d) pizza at The Treehouse. Would you feel at home here? Can you see yourself p-setting or napping away on Old Union’s leather couches? (p-set, v. to work on a problem set, typically with a group of friends)
- Go incognito in real classes. Admit Weekend coordinates sweet sampler classes, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. Swing by the Visitor Center to grab a listing of all “open” classes for the quarter, or just find one to your liking at ExploreCourses. Pretend to be a real student. Ask hard questions; expect good answers. This is what learning at Stanford is all about.
- Stay up late. Don’t be surprised if engaging conversations shift your sleep schedule by a few hours (welcome to college). It’s all worth it when the boy from next door offering you lemon bars turns out to be from an Alaskan town so small he had to snowmobile to class each day. Stanford students are just like you: learn their stories.
- Be a nerd. It’s okay; we all are. Research the resources you want and need most! Do you want to pursue musical arts on campus? Trek over to Braun and check out the facilities. Interested in community service? Talk to the helpful assistants at Haas, who will literally try to get you involved in the next day’s projects. Wanna do sports? Tag along with your RoHo to the gym and check out the climbing wall, yoga room, or sand volleyball courts. Stanford is your oyster; it’s up to you to find the pearls.
We are Stanford, and stereotypes cannot contain us. Have an amazing time, and get to know the silly, serious, busy, chill, sporty, nerdy students that make Stanford my home and my community.
“Do we contradict ourselves? Very well then, we contradict ourselves. We are great, we contain multitudes.” (Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, ed.) Happy Admit Weekend!!