Author Archive - Maia

About Maia:

Bad pun and scotch enthusiast. Does more crossword puzzles than can be considered normal or healthy. Drives a car as old as she is and likes to listen to music at inappropriate volumes while doing so.

Approaching Stanford

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Okay, so I can’t provide any inside scoop on Stanford life. Yet. But I do still have a view of the institution as an incoming freshman. I will admit that I am not completely objective; I grew up in Palo Alto, the child of a faculty member. I’ve sat in on my father’s IntroSem, have messed around the AI Lab in Gates when he dragged me to the office with him, have attended the DARPA Urban Challenge and cheered on the Stanford team as they were unfortunately beaten for first place by Carnegie Mellon (damn technicalities)…I’ve also lived in dorms at boarding school, spent a year abroad, and thus know what it’s like to live away from home.

Suffice to say that I’m not quite doe-eyed or fresh-faced the way some of my comrades may be. But I’m still new to what we might call the Stanford experience, i.e. what it’s like to be a student there.

If anyone has time to waste or gives enough of a crap to do so, a brief once-over of the “The Official Stanford Class of 2015” Facebook group reveals a group of Energizer Bunnies, constantly posting upbeat messages and questions with repetitive punctuation used as emphasis (“!!!!!!!”). Some even post those little ice cream cone heart things (<3) everywhere. Others prefer a more whimsical approach, ending their posts exclusively with ellipses. Normally I’d be a bit annoyed by such openness on a social networking site – okay, I am a bit annoyed –  but I’m mostly struck by the intense energy that comes from being part of a select group. Everyone is so excited, it’s unnerving. Perhaps I’ve become jaded after the harrowing college process, which, contrary to all the reassurance I had, sucked even worse than anticipated. My own personal cynicism aside, it must be noted that the aforementioned phenomenon of hyped-up teenagers is not unique to our institution. It can be seen all over, as my high school friends, all of whom will be attending other colleges, have reported similar experiences on their respective Facebook groups. My question is: what exactly is it that drives everyone to wet themselves to such a degree in anticipation?

One hypothesis might have to do with the ever-shrinking acceptance rate of an already highly exclusive school. But the widespread nature of my compatriots’ reverse nostalgia contradicts that theory. Many subsequent theories (regarding the arguably superior California weather, location, school opportunities unique to Stanford, etc.) can be stifled by the same argument; lots of colleges have incredibly vast resources. So perhaps this needs to be looked at more globally, and I should instead wonder why recent high school graduates and incoming college freshmen everywhere are like hyperactive kids right before recess, fidgeting and bouncing around in their seats, itching to be unleashed unto the playground.