Author Archive - Leigh

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Fall-ing in Love: The 2013 Autumn Course Guide

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 9.03.03 PM

Explore Courses was down more than four hours before Axess even opened for enrollment. Most claim that it was due to overzealous frosh (hint: you can’t sign up for classes until orientation. Please stop bogging down the server), overzealous-er upperclassmen (please don’t judge us for indulging our need to obsessively research and meticulously plan the remaining time in our academic careers),  the fact that the Stanford computing just has a general tendency to suck (Exhibit A: Old Axess. Exhibit B: New Axess) or some combination thereof. But I know the real reason. The real reason you all crashed Explore Courses is because you knew. You all knew how each and every department at Stanford completely blew their course offerings out of the water this quarter.

I’ve written this course guide for over a year now (except for last Spring  – sorry for any of you who looked for it, I kind of dropped the ball. My bad.) and I have to say that each and every quarter of carefully combing through the Bulletin* leaves me freshly dumbstruck with the sheer number of delightful offerings this school continues to pump out. Seriously. Writing this thing is actually pretty excruciating. I want ten more years here. I want to major in about seventeen different things and minor in eight more. I want to take ALL THE CLASSES. But alas. I can’t. So I write this guide and hope that I can live vicariously through all you wonderful people who can collectively take them all for me. With that, I wish you a fantastic quarter full of vigorous and enlightening academic pursuits and the stress, anxiety, sleep-deprivation, loss of morale, and overall decline in physical and mental health that will inevitably accompany them. Cheers.

*The physical book that used to house the year’s course offerings back when the Marguerite was just a horse and an Apple was just a piece of fruit.

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Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Would you like $250 $140? Right now? Free and clear? How about every quarter? Yeah, so would I. However, unlike most random hypothetical questions, I can actually deliver on this one. $250 $140 of your tuition per quarter automatically goes to special fees. However, saying as you don’t ever actively consent to this distribution of funds to various student groups, the ASSU would be in something of a legal snafu if they didn’t give you the option of taking the money back at some point. So they do. For the first two weeks of every quarter, you have the option of waiving the money you paid for special fees. It’s really that simple. You can get a refund for $250 $140 worth of special fees every quarter. The solitary attached string? The leadership of groups that get special fees are allowed to request a list of students who waived their fees and may bar those students from using their services. But that’s seriously it. Now some food for thought: what could I buy with the $750 $420 a year that I currently spend on special fees? Here’s my short list:

 – A boatload of Philz coffee

Seven Four trips skydiving

– One of those giant stuffed trees from the bookstore

– A romantic weekend in Tahoe

– My weight in marshmallows

– *Part of* The mens water polo team

– Parking for my entire Stanford career ~two years

– A flight to somewhere very far away

30 17 cases of Two Buck Chuck

– Half an Ochem textbook

– An iPhone 17

3 2+ Dance Marathon pledges

– The worlds most hipster bike

Someone to slap me when I procrastinate (could definitely use one of those right about now…)

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Starbucks by the Numbers

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

“Starbucks: It’s NOT Meyer”

I have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. On the one hand, I downright refuse to use the term “Tall” to order the establishment’s smallest serving of coffee. Ditto “Grande” (meaning “large” in Italian, according to my friend Google Translate) to order a medium-ish size. Ditto “Venti” for an all-nighter-inducing sized cup. Ok, admittedly the last one does make a smidge more sense than the other two – apparently a “Venti” is, in fact, twenty ounces of fluid. But seriously, for a company that has 20,400 almost identical stores, you’d think they’d adopt a similar level of consistency (if not common sense) when it comes to their sizing practices.

On the other hand, however, they do brew a pretty decent cup of coffee. I also like their little cheese and fruit boxes. And, most importantly, I have learned to love the establishment for their work environment. And by that I mean the environment in which I do MY work. This year’s fall course guide spent about a week and a half gestating in a Starbucks across the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and ever since I have had a certain fondness for the institution’s mass-produced ambiance. I can’t tell if its the “handcrafted” wooden tables, good lighting, endless outlets, or simply the fact that it’s not Meyer, but I’ve found that I’m surprisingly productive working in a place with heavy foot-traffic and lots of people hyped-up on mocha frappucinos. As such, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Tressider’s latest installment, enjoying both the salted carmel lattes and the sublime people watching that comes with them. So, without further ado, I present to you Starbucks by the my numbers*: (more…)

The One, the Only, the 2013 Winter Course Guide

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

Let’s just say that this is NOT what Thanksgiving looks like at my house…

No, not Thanksgiving. I mean, yes – technically it is time for family drama, dried out Turkey, sleeping in a bed that hasn’t been tainted by years of college kids getting it on, and becoming unnecessarily excited that it’s now socially acceptable to eat truly stupid amounts of pumpkin pie. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Oh no. Not that. I’m talking about something far more important: the TUSB Winter Course Guide.

Yes, I know Axess opened a month ago. I’m sorry I’ve been a little late to the game. As you all know, the quarter system is effing exhausting and often prohibits us from doing those things we really want to do. However, because it’s “Break”, and because the lovely few of my saintly friends who actually follow this blog have been bugging me to get off my keister and actually write the darn thing, and because my brain is downright refusing to let me start the 25 page paper I’m supposed to write before the end of the holiday, and because it has recently been brought to my attention that I have atrocious time management skills, I’m excited to bring you the 2013 Winter  course guide.

Given that I didn’t have a spare week to sit around Starbucks and think up super-amazing themes like “the Muppets”, this time around I’m sticking with a classic: “When I Grow Up”. As always, you can rest assured that this course guide is poorly-informed, overly generalized, and rarely if ever politically correct. As always, I will accept no responsibility for any misery inflicted by taking any of these classes. So enjoy the post, enjoy the break, and – above all – enjoy the fact that we get to do this all over again after New Years. Cheers.

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Breaking the Fall: 2012 Autumn Course Guide

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ah, summer. One minute you’re shotgunning a beer celebrating with friends after your last final, the next, you’re waking up and rolling over to find that two months of beaching, traveling, summer-schooling, tanning, grilling, working, and/or your resume-building b****work meaningful internship experience have flown by and it’s already August. Which means it’s time to maybe, possibly, conceivably consider what you’ll be studying in the fall. Even at Stanford, summer doesn’t last forever, and eventually we’ve got to come to grips with  all of our first-world problems – namely, enrolling in classes at the happiest place university on earth. But, fear not – I have spent the last fortnight scouring every course in every department this school has to offer (upon reading this line, my proofreader claims that I “need to get laid a life”), with the hope of delivering the BEST list of classes to get you STOKED to come back to campus. It combines all the things I love most in life: cool classes that don’t physically drive me to tears (yes, I’m talking to YOU, “Inventing Classics“), excessive linkage, personality stereotypes, semi-snarky commentary, giant over-generalizations and massive assumptions, and most importantly: THE MUPPETS.  In any case, I hope the article piques your interest in something you might have otherwise overlooked, missed, or been to lazy to go look up.  And if not, all I can say is that I hope it makes you laugh (if only in pity). Other than that, here’s to the remaining MONTH of summer (suck it, Cal) and the boredom and restlessness that will inevitably accompany it. Cheers.

 

Autumn 2012 classes for…

the wise-guy

Old Guys Rule.

AMSTUD 140: Stand Up Comedy and the “Great American Joke” Since 1945

I took this class last fall. Actual (read: more or less deeply paraphrased) quote from the prof: “Hey, Hennessey – I’ve got an idea for a class. It will involve abundant sexism, racism, elitism, lewd and scatalogical references, innappropriate behvaior, excessive profanity, and – above all – some of the most brilliant and observative writers, performers, and anthropologists of our time.  What’s this class called, you ask? Well, it’s Stand Up Comedy and the Great American Joke”. Take this class. It’s awesome.

MUSIC 36N: Humor in Music

My visions of this class involve Steel Panther, Weird Al, and Parry Gripp.

Thank God I’m not teaching it.

 

the romantic

Living up to his name like an absolute champ

HISTORY 33A: Blood and Roses: The Age of the Tudors
Mystery, murder, sex, and scheming? And you thought your family was dramatic.

ATHLETIC 39: Fencing: Beginning
So you can do THIS.

ENGLISH 154: Mapping the Romantic Imagination
The map of MY romantic imagination involves horseback trips through the Florin countryside with Wesley, a sunset on the bow of the (intact) Titanic with Jack, the California coastline in Benjamin Bradford’s convertible, getting stuck on an island in the Caribbean with Cap’n Jack Sparrow, Patrick Verona’s paintball park, and wherever Ryan Gosling is currently located (though, preferably here). To my great disappointment, however, I believe this class refers a bit more to the English romantic poets and novelists and the sublime countrysides they envisioned. Then again, is anything quite as lovely and romanticized as curling up with a little Keats and Byron?

 

the hipster

This muppet is actually called Harry the Hipster. You've probably never heard of him.

ENGLISH 121A: Tattoos, Scars, Marks and American Cultures of Inscription

I feel bad for the poor sucker of a TA who has to read 60+ papers on “Why the dolphin/butterfly/Chinese symbol for “peace”/shooting star/infinity sign/angel wings/song lyrics/Bible verse on my ankle/lower back/shoulder blade/neck/wrist/sideboob/part of my hip that totally gets gets covered by a bikini is a unique artistic expression of my inner self”.

ARTSTUDI 131: Sound Art I 
Because taking just “music” was too mainstream.

FILMSTUD 301: Fundamentals of Cinematic Analysis 
Take this class so that the next time you’re giving your pretentious opinion about the latest film showing at INSERT NAME OF UNKNOWN THEATER HERE, you’ll be able to reference a little-known technique/genre/style/paradigm/buzzword that your professor mentioned once in class.

COMM 182: Virtual Communities and Social Media
This should prepare you well for your vague “job” in the vague cross section between “media” and “social networking” at that start-up no one has ever heard of.

 

the history buff

I want that blazer.

HISTORY 95C: Modern Japanese History: From Samurai to Pokemon
Samurai…. Pokemon. SAMURAI… POKEMON. I’m not quite  sure what’s between these two poles (the history of sushi?!?!) but it’s guaranteed to be awesome.

COMM 125: Perspectives on American Journalism
I don’t know enough about journalism or, frankly, television to confidently explain why “The Newsroom” sucks and “The Wire” is the bestest thing ever since Ike’s Menais a Trois. Admittedly, I should probably take this class and many others on this list. In any case, if you believe the slow death of the newspaper is a genuine travesty or that Cronkite and Murrow could give Colbert and Stewart a run for their money, then this might be the class for you.

HISTORY 103F: Introduction to Military History
It’s like the Military Channel… sans couch.

HISTORY 243G: Tobacco and Health in World History
Not to get all Nick Naylor on you guys, but I’m genuinely curious how one-sided this class is.

HISTORY 59S: The Digital Historian’s Toolkit: Studying the West in an Age of Big Data
From my quick read of the course-description,  it seems like this class involves old documents, scanners, and many a rubber glove. That said, if you like seeing history immortalized and like to wonder “what did they think back then?” and “how did that really happen?” then this is the class for you.

EDUC 116N: Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History’ and the Quest for Historical Truth
If you’re reading this section, theres a decent chance that you identify yourself as a history buff. Howard Zinn was the guru/godfather/mack-daddy of all American history buffs. Student, meet the ultimate teacher.

HISTORY 308D: Pre-Modern Warfare
I’m not exactly sure at what point/what contraptions fall under the heading of “Modern Warfare”, but if you’re telling me that I get to take a class on how to use the history of ninja stars, crossbows, catapults, and broadswords, then SIGN. ME. UP.

CLASSGEN 103: The Greek Invention of Mathematics
My sole incentive for taking this class would be figuring out exactly which Greek mathematician to fantasize about brutally torturing  whilst in the middle of my Math 52 midterm.

 

the patriot

Coming Soon: Muppets take 'Merica.

CSRE 51K: Election 2012

I should really, REALLY take this class. Seriously, because – besides Obama – I’m not really sure who’s actually still in the race.

COMM 162: Campaigns, Voting, Media, and Elections 
See above comment.

COMM 164: The Psychology of Communication About Politics in America 
I’d like to think that, to the individuals who plan to lead my country and allegedly have my best interest at heart, I am more than just a number and that my opinions and behaviors are more than just statistics.

ECON 18: The Washington Debate About American Competitiveness
If I take this class, will I get a job?

PUBLPOL 170: Political Corruption
It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.

PUBLPOL 154: Politics and Policy in California
Let’s hope that by the time this class is over, Michael Tubbs will have a place in its curriculum.

ECON 25N: Public Policy and Personal Finance
Something about tax-brackets… maybe. I expect to see a lot of pitchforks and raised fists.

HUMBIO 120: Health Care in America: An Introduction to U.S. Health Policy
Obamacare. And other stuff. Probably.

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Spring into Spring with the 2012 Course Guide

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Think you know all the ins and outs of spring’s awesome courses?

Story. Of. My. Life.

Ha. Think again. Here, for your pleasure, I have painstakingly compiled a list of the hands-down most awesome, useful, compelling, frightening, GER-fulfilling, enjoyable classes you could ever imagine. Remember  before Chem 31, Math 51, and IHUM… back when you applied to Stanford? Remember how you raved about how excited you were for the “engaging classes”? After reading this article, you’re going to realize you weren’t just saying that. Stanford is killing it next quarter in terms of super-interesting classes, and you have the opportunity to get in on the action. I know Camp Stanford is tempting, but after reading this article, you might actually want to bulk up your course load with some of these. And, speaking of Camp Stanford, the categories are…

Camp Stanford: Whether you’re trying to recover from the carnage of your winter course load or just getting a jump-start on summer laziness/craziness, here are the best classes to keep the thoughts of warm breezes and fun-in-the-sun swirling in your head until June…

  • EARTHSYS 180B: Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture: A course that lets “The Farm” live up to its name. Get outside and onto Stanford’s community farm and others in the area. Enjoy the sun on your neck and a little dirt on your nose. (3-4 units, multiple times)
  • ATHLETIC 80: Lifeguard Training: Didn’t snag the Google internship you wanted? No sweat. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that lifeguarding is a solid career choice for those  looking to dip their toes in the real world. Make decent cash, get the tan of your life (and hopefully not melanoma… sunblock, guys!) and know that you can save a life if need be.  (2 units, T/Th 12-2, fee)

    Once upon a time...

  • ATHLETIC 51: Beginning Golf: If you were able to make it into this class, I commend you with my highest honors. (1 unit, multiple times, fee)
  • ATHLETIC 320: Backpacking: You might have given up Stanford Sierra Camp to work for a start-up, but maybe this class can scratch your outdoorsy itch before you sell your soul for equity. (1 unit, M 7-9:30) (more…)

Stereo Love: V-Day Playlists for the Lovers and the Loveless

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into what persona I’ll be adopting for Valentine’s Day/Single’s Awareness Day (SAD) this year. I’ve done the couple thing. I’ve done the hating-on-anything-to-do-with-love-while-secretly-sending-myself-chocolate thing. At this point, I’m leaning towards ambivalence. As such, when I got inspired to do a playlist post by Kristi’s awesome article about failtastic lovesongs, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go the “mushy” route or the “sardonically commenting on the absurdity of the holiday” route. So I went with both. One will make your significant other look deep into your eyes with misty longing or laugh whilst tenderly spooning. The other will make you want to a) key your ex’s car b) sit in bed with the  company of several pounds’ worth of Ghirardelli wrappers c) think to yourself “Heck YES I’m single and ready to mingle” or d) laugh uproariously at the concept of romantic love. Whatever you choose to jam out to this Tuesday, just remember that no one will love you until you learn to love yourself, you get 12 free condoms a quarter from Vaden, and that chocolate can stimulate all the serotonin you will ever need. Keep it classy, Stanford. (more…)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Meanwhile, at Stanford...

Anyone know the scoop on Mr. Fire and Brimstone here? Freedom of speech debate aside, you have to give him credit for the sign…

The Original Tebow Returns to Stanford

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

We really should call it "Rodin-ing"

How do you transport a pricelesss piece of art weighing more than a ton? Very carefully.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the crown jewel of Stanford’s Rodin collection has returned to its rightful home after a 2 year loan to the North Carolina Museum of Art. One of twenty-two original casts, our version of Rodin’s “The Thinker” was presented as a gift to the Cantor Arts Foundation in 1988. Since then, it has spent time in front of Meyer Library and in the Cantor Arts Center’s Diekman Gallery. (more…)

Watch Out for the Fuzz… Why Stanford’s Arts and Humanities Aren’t as Forgotten as You Think

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Odds are, you probably came to Stanford because you’d rather slip on a hoodie than sidle into a sportcoat, prefer sunshine and band-run to wintry-mix and finals clubs, and would rather cheer for Andrew Luck than say, the Winklevii. And, odds are, if you’re even remotely techie, you chose Stanford for its knockout science and engineering curriculum… and rankings. It’s no secret that the Farm is both a Mecca and breeding ground for calculation gurus, technical whizzes, biological demigods, and everyone else who is still slightly pissed that they couldn’t take C++ to fulfill their foreign language requirement.

But not everyone destined for Stanford emerged from the womb taking integrals.For those of you who didn’t know that we have an entire quad for engineering, who mourn the death of IHum, who  spend more time in Roble Gym than in the ACSR, who actually stop at Braun on Saturday nights rather than going straight to the Row, and who otherwise prefer the scent of leather-bound books and rich mahogany to motherboards and formaldehyde – your moment has arrived.

We know who you are – even if you are in an oft forgotten niche here at Stanford. The concert halls, high-ceilinged archive and manuscript libraries, and sun-drenched studios of ivies and liberal arts colleges pulled at your heartstrings when you were in the heat of college applications. You fantasized about wearing tweed (with elbow-patches) and swirling cognac whilst ruminating over the flaws in deontological theory and debating Descartes, salon-style. You are a connoisseur of human culture, and you came here, to Stanford, hoping that just maybe you could find that same level of pained fascination with the human condition and method of expression under a red-tile roof as you might have under the buttresses of collegiate-gothic cathedral.

Oh, you knew the sacrifices you’d make. You worried that your love of Chopin, appreciation of Klimt, and obsession with Marquez would all be misunderstood, met with raised eyebrows and blank stares peering over sheaves of graph paper and physics tomes. You would be ever the outsider during O-Chem rants and the communal groans over CME. Your choice to major in English, Religious Studies, or Studio Art would be met with polite smiles and the silent judgment that you weren’t intense enough to study something technical and have no solid, foreseeable career path. Your daring choice to pursue a creative, innovative, reflective, and interpretive field is constantly challenged by those who insist your interests provide no real-world application or insurance. Others will ask you why you chose to pursue a path in arts or humanities at Stanford which, while having what are generally assumed to be “good” programs in these departments, seems to place a much greater emphasis on technologically-driven fields. With our home and history in Silicon Valley, seemingly endless scientific resources, and army of high-profile techie alums, people will probably ask you why you didn’t go to say, Harvard, to study all that “fuzzy” stuff.

To those people, you can now proudly reply that Stanford upholds the honor of having the top arts and humanities program in the world. And that we actually knocked Harvard off of its crimson pedestal to snag it. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Stanford upstaged Harvard, UChicago, The Australian National University, and Princeton for the coveted top spot among university arts and humanities programs. The leap in the rankings has been largely credited to the outstanding number of MacArthur fellows and Pulitzer winners zipping across the quad and pioneering our liberal-arts research and curriculum, in addition to our broad range of arts/humanities offerings and extensive resources.

By comparison, (according to the U.S. News and World Report) Stanford Engineering clocked in at only #2, taking a backseat to M.I.T.. Admittedly, M.I.T. isn’t exactly a mortifying rival, and obviously second place is nothing to be ashamed of,  but the fact that one of the disciplines we pay the greatest lip-service to here on the Farm isn’t comparatively the best on campus does resonate a bit ironically.

That said, I could go on at length about the fallacy of rankings and the inconsistency of the methods, variables, and formulae (as well as frequent subjectivity and manipulation) that produce them. Rankings are not all-determining and should not be the primary mechanism through which we garner our self-esteem or evaluate ourselves as a school. But they do stand as a considerable litmus test that can testify to the strength of a program and should be reflective of the attention and respect that those departments should receive from students, faculty, administration, and, of course, the general public.

So the next time you find yourself smugly worrying about the future of your friend who’s an Art History major, try to catch yourself. The arts and humanities have not been extinguished in the wake of technology and scientific advancement. Their champions claim just as meaningful a place in our culture and society as do the engineers, programmers, researchers, and inventors.  And the work produced by the left-brained talent of the world might not thrive to the extent that it does without the help of the designers, writers, artists, performers, historians, anthologists, etc. who use the context of the human condition and sensibility to establish a place for those technologies in our lives.  I applaud Stanford for acknowledging the importance of bolstering such broad fields of study, and for taking such impressive strides to strengthen its departments and cultivate extensive opportunities for intellectual exploration and discovery. Thank you, Stanford, for yet again proving that your students really can have the best of all worlds.

Top 13 Things to Make You Feel Productive When You Are Actually Procrastinating

Monday, December 5th, 2011

#1. Do your laundry. You can only turn your socks inside out for so long.

#2. Vacuum your room. Thoroughly enjoy the sound of all the little grainy particles getting sucked up through the tube.

#3. Download all of the updates your computer keeps reminding you about. Resist the reflex to hit “Remind Me Later”.

#4. Make/Confirm/Reconfirm your travel arrangements for Winter break. And Spring Break. And Summer break…

#5. Refill any prescriptions you might have.

#6. Create the perfect holiday playlist. Nothing rings in the holiday season like hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” or “The Night Santa Went Crazy“.

#7. Find the perfect gift for that person who is impossible to buy gifts for.

#8. Figure out an exit strategy for when you run into that awkward ex over break.

No, you don't need a third glass of eggnog...

#9. Go to the gym/go for a run/do an ab workout. Armies of  gingerbread people are marching out of ovens as I write this. Here is my motivation.

#10. Buy/make stationary and/or thank-you notes. You’ll be needing them shortly.

#11. Call your parents/grandparents/other extended family. They love hearing from you and it has been a while…

#12. Download apps like Concentrate and/or SelfControl. Use them.

#13. Make a list of everything you have to do during dead week/finals and create a schedule for when you’ll get it all done. Starting… eventually.

Bonus! #14. Write a post for The Unofficial Stanford Blog. It works. Trust me.

Out of My Element: Thoughts on the Chemistry 31 Series

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The closest I'll come to Chemistry this year: stumbling for chemcat memes...

Oh, Stanford. I could write odes about the many, many, MANY things about you that I adore: the fact that it is December and a clear, breezy, perfect 74 degrees outside, the smell of eucalyptus wafting through campus, free laundry machines, the Nutella waffles at Coupa, the Bender room, the visual orgasm that is the quad and the oval, oh… and the beyond enviable world-class education that I am receiving and the oodles upon oodles of mind-blowing opportunities that gush out of the pipeline of resources that this university affords us. Don’t get me wrong. I am high on Stanford. I still wake up every morning feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I still bike through campus and marvel about how I stumbled into this incomparable place. I still wonder how on earth I could have survived without Ike’s. And I’m not usually one to complain. But I do have one teensy, eentsy question that baffles and frustrates me about the Farm: why is the Chem 31 series only offered in the Fall quarter?!

Admitedly, it’s probably my fault. I’m sure that the “Approaching Stanford” materials mentioned how, if you’re interested in bio/premed you should consider signing up for the series. But for those of us (I’m sure I’m not alone) who weren’t 100% sure the minute we set foot on campus that the bio/premed route was our intended path and consequentially didn’t submit ourselves to Chem 31A/B/X right out of the gun… well, it seems we are a little bit screwed.

Maybe I am a little neurotic, or confused, or needlessly freaking out. Perhaps there is an obvious solution that flew over my head before or after I realized my dilemma. But it just seems pretty absurd to me that if you don’t take chem in autumn quarter of your freshman year, there is very little you can do to catch up with everyone else. Yes, you can take it in the summer. I get that. But for people who don’t want to or can’t pay for summer classes… they’re in a bit of a pickle. I guess it simply amazes me that the primary prerequisite for the core of one of Stanford’s most popular majors is only offered the first quarter of the main academic year. I’m sorry, but this seems like no-brainer. I’m fairly confident that there would be a large group of students interested in taking either the 31 A/B or 31X track starting in the winter, thus still allowing them to enroll in the bio core, or higher level chemistry classes for a premed track in the beginning of their sophomore year.

Again, I realize the importance of being organized, of putting considerate thought into your academic plan before arriving at Stanford. But people are human. People change their minds. People are unsure. For those of us who have epiphanies later in the game and don’t realize that that they want to do the bio thing until say, week four of their freshman year – should we be penalized for our realizations or changes in heart? Doesn’t Stanford encourage exploration in different areas of study during the freshman year? Isn’t that one of the main reasons we have GER’s? Isn’t that one of the reasons we don’t declare until the end of sophomore year? I simply think that this is one issue that Stanford didn’t exactly think through. And if Stanford doesn’t want to add additional quarters where this class could be offered, the university could make it loudly, explicitly, and repeatedly clear that if freshman have even the SLIGHTEST interest in maybe, possibly, conceivably studying bio or going premed that they should SERIOUSLY and ABSOLUTELY consider signing up for Chem 31 or, if nothing else, take a placement test. And – AGAIN – perhaps the university does, and it’s 100% possible that I missed it. But for those of us who need a little extra use of bold, underlined, and indented fonts and reiterated messages to hear a message, it would be abundantly helpful.

I’m hopeful that there is considerate reasoning for the rather inconvenient organization of this series. But at this moment in time, I don’t get it. It frustrates me, and it is going to be one of my more demanding scheduling issues in the future. For the sake of future frosh, I simply hope this can be resolved in a better way.

 

In Defense of USC

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

I grew up in a house divided. My mom and I went/go to Stanford, my father and older brother to USC. That family dynamic, along with my upbringing in Newport Beach, California (where at least a third of the baby-boom generation of USC alums decided to settle down and raise families) left me a rare outsider on the inside of the infamous, very tight-knit Trojan family. And, up until very recently, that family drove me crazy.

The Fight Song on repeat. The peace-sign/victory wave. The ocean of red and yellow (ahem… “Cardinal and Gold” as my father would chastise me through childhood). The football obsession. The Tommy Trojan references. The endless parade of license plates, stickers, and flags adorning the cars in my hometown. The ridiculously perky “Fight On” attitude. For the longest time, I found the culture so nauseating that the only way I could take refuge from their inexhaustible pride was to adopt the outsider attitude and disregard all of it. I would make jabs about whether being platinum blonde was still a requirement for admission. I would assume that all USC students were vapid, superificial, and unfocused on anything but getting wasted. I made the U$C jokes and took pleasure in the puns: “You can’t spell ‘suck’ without USC”, and the classic “University of Spoiled Children”. With a school like Stanford in my sights, I wanted to make it clear how much above their shallow antics I was. I wanted my attitude to demonstrate how much better Stanford was than USC: how much smarter, less conservative, more diverse, and more successful we are.

"Because Stanford doesn't like me"

But one weekend changed my perspective. With little to do and an itching for a bit of fun, I swallowed my pride, dropped my preconceived notions, and asked my brother if I could tag along for a couple days and get an insider peek at his life as a Trojan. The experience that followed was anything other than what I might have expected. The classes were incredibly engaging and dynamic; the campus was extremely welcoming and filled to the brim with excited students advertising their interests in every culture and activity, and a night on the infamous 28th street left me wanting more.

Admittedly – any college brochure will give you that. But what really caught me off my guard was how authentically friendly and kind everyone was. When I told people that I go to Stanford, every single person I spoke with was genuinely excited to hear about it, showered me with compliments about the Farm, offered references to friends of theirs’ who go here and rave about it, and were noticeably reverent of our fair university – usually tossing in some form of, “I applied there but didn’t get in. But I would have loved to go there”. Not one person had anything rude or snarky to say about Stanford, nor did anyone seem to be withholding any such comments.

Even this past weekend, when the university played host to what one USC student called “one of the most epic games and biggest letdowns I’ve seen in my college career” – Trojans were still surprisingly respectful of the Cardinal win. Especially under circumstances that most Trojan fans identified as “the closest thing to a bowl game we’ll come to this year” – my in-person interactions with students were generally tame. Understandably, most students were disappointed, felt they got gypped, and said they won in spirit, but I didn’t run into anyone who was out to seriously bash Stanford. The harshest comment I heard came in the form of Facebook status: “Whatever Stanford, your helmets are still ugly”.

Which begs the question – why do so many Stanford students seem to harbor such resentment – whether legitimate or in jest – toward our private Pac-12 peer? Why do we feel the need to put down USC at every possible opportunity? (more…)