Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

The One, the Only: the 2012 Winter Course Guide

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

It’s that time of year again!  Just when you thought Fall Quarter had you by the throat, the Registrar reminds you it’s time to choose classes for Winter Quarter.  Sheesh.  But don’t worry: TUSB is here with a sweet selection of Stanford classes to spice up your quarter.  From fun alternatives to the typical GER satisfiers to intensive arts experiences to thought-provoking seminars to broaden your horizons, this list has something for everyone!

Got suggestions of your own?  Post them in the comments!  You can also check out past years’ recommendations here.

Hipster microbes!

The Ultimate Silicon Valley Classes:  rad classes for the hipster techie

  • Artstudi178:  Art and Electronics:  make sweet art using analog electronics!  Attendance at first class session is required.  4 units. MW 1:15-3:05pm.
  • CS476B / Music256B:  Music, Computing, Design II: Mobil Music:  “aesthetic, design, and implementation of mobile music, centered around the modern super smartphones.”  Prerequisite: MUSIC 256A.
  • Dance 138:  Mind in Motion: Knowledge Creation Through Dance Practice and Design Thinking:  “engineering principles through a kinesthetic lens” – awesome!  1 unit. MWF 10:00-10:50am.

Stroke that Freud Beard:  answers to life’s bigger questions

  • Religst11N:  The Meaning of Life:  it isn’t just “42.”  3 units.  TTh 11:00am-12:15pm. GER:DBHum.
  • Phil385R:  Metaphysics of Reference:  don’t understand the title?  Me neither!  All the more reason to take it!
  • Arthist210:  The Renaissance Nude:  The “significance of nude… figures in Italian Renaissance art.”  Freud would be all over this one.  Figuratively!  I meant, figuratively!  5 units.  T 9:30-12:30pm.

Artspalooza:  whet your artistic appetite rides you?

Below I’ve included a few of my favorites, but you should also check out the awesome Creativity Course Guide, produced by Stanford Student Arts. (more…)

How to Succeed in Foreign Language Without Really Trying

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Of course you should try to succeed in foreign language, but if you’re really missing your teachers from high school, learning Xhosa for the first time ever, or figuring out how many verbs Spanish really does have, you may be discouraged by your classes occasionally.  But there are lots of ways to study for foreign language classes without just endlessly reviewing conjugations (although you’ll have to do that sometimes too.)


And make it something that you know very well in English.  The ideal situation is to find a book you read in English that was originally written in the language you’re trying to learn for maximum authenticity, but anything will work.  I read Harry Potter in French and that is where a good 40% of my French vocabulary comes from.  Plus, the mental exercise of reading something you know in a different language is quite cool–it’s like reading two books at once, one of which is printed in some normally inaccessible parallel dimension.  How many times has verb conjugation given you a psychedelic experience?


If you’re trying to keep up with the news and don’t feel like you have enough time to keep track of current events and your homework, mix the two together.  Try to find a free online newspaper in your language of choice (Arabic has Al-Jazeera, French has Le Monde, etc.)  Find a particular column or read the headlines about whatever you’re interested in.  It’s an excellent way to pick up more specialized but useful vocabulary, especially if you’re going abroad and want to take classes in a foreign language.  I like reading the science and environmental news for the vocabulary, and the movies reviews for their challenging style, which is less factual and straightforward and far more literary.


it’s especially useful to listen to one with subtitles in the same language so you can see which words are actually being said–avoid foreign mondegreens!  Play it all the time, get it stuck in your head, try to parse out the lyrics, sing it in the shower.  Repeat.


Family, friends, professors, campus staff, the nice waiter at your favorite restaurant, your great-aunt from Germany, international students, your teachers from high school,whoever.  Even if it’s just a short exchange.  Most people who know another language will be forgiving of mistakes and speak slower to help you understand.  It’s useful not just to practice your own speaking skills, but also to listen to a real accent and the ineffable authenticating speech patterns you can’t pick up from a textbook.

And last but not least…


Ever seen Fabrique en Chine?  Hecho en India?  Reading the product information on packaging may not be the most exciting use of your language skills, but it can be an enlightening one.  In Canada, this very activity has given rise to what a friend of mine called “cereal box French”–everyone knows how to say things like “calories,” “carbohydrates,” “organic,” and “new look, same great taste” because of bilingual packaging!

Nine Lessons For Freshmen

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

This summer, I’ve been training sled dogs in Alaska—and getting paid $12 an hour! My coworkers are older than me; most of them finished college several years ago. It’s been great to spend the summer hanging out with people in their twenties, because they constantly remind me of an important fact: college will be over soon.

That having been said, you might assume that I’m a regretful senior looking back on my misspent college years. Not so; I’ll be a sophomore in September. I took a gap year before coming to Stanford, and I grew so much during that year. Still, I found freshman year challenging. I’ve reflected a lot this summer on what I learned from the first year of college. Here are my nine biggest lessons:

1. Work Stanford to extract the benefits you want.

A recent Stanford grad pointed out to me the distinction between “working” and “being worked.” When you get overwhelmed by academics, you’re no longer working; you’re being worked. On a similar note, you should view the Stanford campus, with all its resources, as the raw material which you must shape and knead to meet your specific needs. The important point is to actively design your college experience, instead of passively expecting this place to hand you happiness. That shiny Stanford brand is nothing more than a name until you “work” Stanford to extract the benefits you want.

2. Mold the Stanford campus to fit you, instead of trying to change yourself to fit Stanford.

There are many “Stanfords,” not just one. You might even say that each student attends a slightly different university. So don’t feel pressured to drastically change yourself in order to fit in. Chances are you can find at least one person like you here; there really are many different types of students on campus. Focus on fitting Stanford to you, not fitting yourself to Stanford. Go ahead and change yourself all you want, but do it for the right reasons—not because you feel like you have to.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, find another way.

My dad is a musician, so I grew up surrounded by art. But as a freshman, I didn’t get into any of the performance groups I auditioned for. I should have tried harder to find some way to participate in the arts, but those auditions discouraged me. So I spent much of the year feeling like no one at Stanford cared about what I love—that if I wasn’t an engineer or computer scientist or entrepreneur, then I was at the wrong place.

I can’t tell you how wrong that conclusion was. Remember, even if you can’t get involved directly in something you love, there’s always a need for people to work behind the scenes. The bottom line is, you need to be proactive. Don’t wait for the opportunities to find you.

4. Apply, apply, apply.

If cars run on gas, then Stanford runs on applications. There are a lot of interesting opportunities at Stanford and elsewhere, but most will require you to put together some sort of application. Get in the habit of applying to every program, position, or opportunity that intrigues you. It might seem like a lot of work, but taking this step will help you get the most out of college. Even if you don’t think you’ll get accepted, apply anyway. Never sell yourself short.

Think about this way: college is simply a dense concentration of resources. It’s a pipeline of money and opportunities, and you’re hooked up to it for the next four years. Lucky you! Just be sure to extract as much as you can.

5. Explore possible careers.

I just finished the book “What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers.” But I really should have read it sooner. It’s natural to feel some anxiety about what kind of job you’ll get  after college, but don’t let this feeling overwhelm you. If you find yourself wishing that you liked computers (so you could major in Computer Science) or business (so you could major in Economics), or convincing yourself that you need to go to law school (since you’re not interested in medicine or business), fight back. Take the time to do some thorough self-reflection, and figure out what’s really important to you. Recognize that there are always alternatives—you are never obligated to follow the well-marked path. A great resource during your search is a article about career guides.

6. You can’t overprepare for college…

…so read some advice books on college before you start. There are a lot of general guides to college life, while other books focus on the larger goal of getting an education. Also be sure to check out Cal Newport’s books and his blog, Study Hacks.

7. Don’t let setbacks blow your confidence.

The truth is that it’s very hard to be the best at Stanford. In my case, I found my confidence a little dented after a few months on campus. You’ll probably encounter some setbacks of your own, but don’t let them bring you down. Never underestimate your own intelligence or ability, and don’t overestimate the intelligence or ability of the people around you.

On the bright side, there’s not a lot of cut-throat competition at Stanford. If you do feel any competitive pressure, chances are that it’s self-imposed. I can honestly say that high school was much more competitive than college.

8. Every morning, think of three things for which you’re grateful.

A friend of mine got this tip from a fitness elective called “Happiness.” Give it a try—it will definitely help you get out of bed on rough days.

9. Don’t listen to all the advice people give you.

Sometimes people give you bad advice; sometimes their advice just doesn’t apply to you. Take what fits your unique situation and discard the rest.

What have you learned about succeeding at Stanford? Leave a comment and share your wisdom with the incoming freshmen.

Keepin’ It Fresh: Advice for ’15

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

The Farm beckons.

As a tour guide, spending the summer away from campus has been an experience in many ways akin to that of Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Full of knowledge of and affection for a planet that has ceased to exist, Arthur is thrust into a cold and uncaring galaxy full of beings tragically uninterested in the extraordinary complexities of the digital watch.  Like a homeless space traveler, I, too, have ventured to unknown lands where my knowledge of Stanford fruit trees, urban legends pertaining to wood-chopping devices, and precise heights of relevant historical buildings has yet to fascinate and amuse.  What a sad state is this.

However, the impending fall quarter presents a glorious opportunity to thrust my oft esoteric knowledge upon the receptive ears of incoming frosh.  Incoming freshmen (and the dozens of anxious parents who will likely also read this), here are the two cents of someone who knows more about Stanford than should probably be legal.  Enjoy!

Recommended Classes for Freshmen:

Whether you’ve known since age six that you wanted to be a biochemist or you’re just checkin’ out some classes for kicks, I’ve got some personal faves and recommendations from friends to get you started.  For your own reference: here‘s the course guide, here‘s the AP credit chart, and here‘s the Office of Undergraduate Academic Life’s website.  From my (and my friends’) experience, I’d recommend  taking 18 or fewer units freshman fall.  You only need to average 15 units a quarter to graduate, and your first quarter is all about adjusting to the pace of college life.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Finally, besides the mandated IHUM and PWR tracks, you have complete control of your course sequence.  That said, for individual majors there tend to be a few crucial prerequisites that you’ll need further down the line, so if you know what you want to do already, check out the individual department website for guidelines.

  • Psych 1: this is a great course for any major.  The course is well-established, with a phenomenal teaching staff and very fun, highly-trained TAs.  I’ve never cracked up so much in lecture or had so much fun learning about neurons.
  • Econ 1A / 1B: think you might be headed for law school, poli sci, econ, or business?  Then this series is a great start for you.  While it is rather work-intensive, many of your peers will take it, too, so it’s very much “we’re all in this together.”
  • Physics: if you’re planning on majoring in engineering or something similar, it’s a good idea to start populating that four year plan and see which physics classes are required by your prospective major. (more…)

The Time Has Come….

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Great sports come from happy Trees. Happy Trees come from California.

the Walrus said,

“To blog of many things.

“Of classes, dorms and making friends

“Of packing many things

“Of why the 650 is hot and how to spread your wings.”


The big, crazy packing list has gone out to the incoming freshman class.  And if I know anything about the pre-college prep process, this means they’re freaking out because they don’t know how to sign up for classes, when to sign up for classes, what to pack, who their roommates will be, or how to do their laundry.

Have no fear, fif-TEEN!!  TUSB is here to answer all of your burning questions.  From now up until the first day of class, the few, the proud, and the bloggily-inclined shall step forth to save the freshies in distress and prepare them for the first of the best four years of their lives!

With topics as diverse as crazy Stanford acronyms, decorating tips, and been-there-done-that pointers from the older and wiser, we hope to sate the Stanford appetites of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  If you’re an incoming freshman, feel free to comment below with topics you’re interested in, and we’ll do our best to cater to all your questions.  In the meantime, have a fantastic summer!

the TUSB Staff

The Countdown Begins…Now!

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Do you know what this week is?

Ok, for those of you who aren’t obsessively checking their calendars like I am, this week marks the midway point of summer.  Yes people, summer does come to an end and for many of us, we are in that odd point of the summer where many of our friends are prepping to return to school while an endless august stretches out before us.

But don’t freak out, September isn’t here yet, which means there’s still plenty of time to get the most out of the summer before returning to the Stanford grind.

So we at TUSB are bringing you Back-to-School Boot Camp (and for people who aren’t fans of the military, please don’t get up in arms about the name, it just sounds good), just our small way of helping you—our valued readers come to school being the best you can be (ok, no more military puns, they’re just too easy).

First up, how to get the best out of the rest of your summer

This is something I’m struggling with personally, especially since my summer is ending much sooner than I’m prepared for.  But to calm my anxieties, I came up with a personal To-Do list containing everything I want/need to do before the summer ends.

I considered posting my personal version, but at 33 “to-dos”, I thought for everyone else’s sanity it would be best if I didn’t. Instead, I’m doing a much better condensed version with 10 Most Important Things needed to have an amazingly awesome jealousy-inducing summer 2011.

Things TO DO Before School Starts:

10) Sleep!

9) Get a tan – Now I’m not advocating baking in the sun or lying under ultraviolet lights for extended periods of time. However, I am encouraging everyone to go outside. This is summer, so there’s no excuse for having the sickly pale skin indicative of staying indoors all summer staring at a computer. Save that for the school year when you have to spend 23 out of 24 hours at Meyer just to get through midterms.

8 ) See Harry Potter – I personally have yet too because I’m too much of baby to watch my childhood end with the final film credits, but everything must come to an end

7) Go on a Road Trip – Think of all those classic movies that extol the virtues of hitting the road and living life spontaneously. Follow in the footsteps of the greats, and create your own summer adventures that will create memories that will last forever. Even if you don’t have access to a car, be brave and see how far you get with public transportation (trust me, you will have stories)

6) Get your Notebook on (i.e. Find yourself a summer boo-thing) – Okay, so you maybe you’re not spending the summer by the beach where Ryan Gosling or Rachel McAdams are just hanging out, but you know you’ve had your eye on that cute co-worker for a minute.  But unless you’re 1000% positive you’ve met you’re true soul mate, just make sure you prepared to leave he/she behind before school starts

5) Go to a concert – This is the height of concert season, so take advantage of it.  See your favorite artist or band live, it’ll definitely be worth it.

4) Family Bonding – You’re not going to see them for a while, so do something with them, at least for a day.  They’ll appreciate that time you took to spend with them, and this can also double as a great opportunity to learn how to do your own laundry.

3) Function with friends!

2) Get opinionated – Summer is the perfect time to get up-to-date on everything that’s happening in the world.  Stanford is the ultimate bubble, which means we often are the last to know about major events, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less interested or invested in current events than folks in the real world.  So take this time to read (for fun!) and discover what’s going on all around you.

1) Get you summer story together – When you get to school, the single-most asked question will be “How was your summer?’ Of course, you can answer with the standard “It was _______ (fill-in whatever adjective that works best)” but what people really want to hear is a great story. So before you step foot on Stanford’s campus, get together a 2-3 pithy anecdotes about you did so you can impress everyone you see.

Stanford Startup Accelerator Program and Demo Day

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Image Credit: My Apple iPhone 4 (apologies for the image quality)

On Wednesday, StartX, formerly known as Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) Labs, a non-profit startup accelerator designed to accelerate the development of Stanford’s top entrepreneurs, held their Demo Day event where startups who participated in the StartX program got to pitch their startups to investors and the general public. StartX began as an incubator-like program out of Stanford and was cofounded by Dan Ha and Cameron Teitelman. Since then, the program has branched out to operate out of AOL’s headquarter in Palo Alto, CA.

The program provides a vast number of mentors and help as well as office space via AOL’s office spaces for startups to work out of. Unlike other incubator programs such as Y-Combinator, TechStars, and others, StartX does not take equity in the companies that are approved for the program. The only requirement is that at least one team member applying must be a Stanford student or alum. I was thoroughly impressed by the set up they had and all of the participants greatly attribute any success they had in participation of the program.


Carpe-ing the Diem

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Mark Twain knows what's up.

“Never let schooling get in the way of your education.”  – Mark Twain

You came to Stanford because you realize that there is significantly more to an education than merely the classes you take, the books you read, and the problem sets you solve.  There’s no doubt that Stanford has top notch academics.  But we have so much more.

And yet, during the supposed “sophomore slump” of my Stanford career, I’ve sadly seen too many of my peers take way too many core classes and, to a certain extent, forget the initial Stanford magic that brought us here.

This is my two cents on rekindling that passion and “doing it right.”  I’ll readily admit that at the ripe old age of 20, I don’t claim to have it all figured out.  (I also don’t claim to speak Latin, as you can probably tell.)  But when the things that made you happy become the things that drive you crazy, it’s time for a quick reset.

It’s not about the schooling; it’s about the education.

Making the Grade

In Soviet Russia, sleep gets you!

Too often, I see students so focused on the end result, getting that right answer or passing that midterm, that they ignore the lesson.  Write numbers without comprehension.  Miss the learning process.  I’ve sat in too many lectures with students frantically scribbling last minute answers.  “Wait, why is that right?”  “Heck if I know.  The TA said so.”  Didn’t we all have to write an essay about intellectual vitality to get in here?  What’s going on?

If you’re writing down answers you don’t understand, you’re doing it wrong.  If you’re busting your butt on hour 22 of that problem set for the incremental difference between an A and an A+, you’re doing it wrong.


And a Happy Dead “Week” to You, Too

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Searching like Dr. Livingstone for some time to get my work done.

Spring quarter seems to elicit a stifling set of canned interactions near its finish. We talk about our summer plans, remark on how shockingly fast the quarter has gone, ask seniors how it feels to be leaving, do our best to have a fling or two, and then, inevitably, lament the period that threatens to darken every drop of sunlight we enjoy: Dead Week.

Stanford students reserve a special place in their groaning repertoires for Dead Week, and this spring’s version promises not to disappoint. Those hoping for a respite from the typical stress mentioned above can take comfort in the fact that this “week” makes even less sense than usual: one holiday, two packed days of class, one study day, and then exams starting on Friday. We might as well be members of the Amondawa, an Amazonian tribe that according to American and Brazilian researchers possesses no abstract concept of time.

One would think that, under the circumstances, we might get a break for those two little class days so that we could concentrate on our finals. However, Dead Week is so prevalent in our study culture that the Registrar has developed specific policies to standardize its mayhem. Although such standard operating procedures might help during most quarters, they have now crafted an environment of insanity. According to the Registrar Office’s End-Quarter Policy Statement, which addresses the last week before finals, “Major papers or projects about which the student has had reasonable notice may be called due in the End-Quarter Period.” This means that, as is my case, one can have a major paper due on Tuesday and then a final term paper due on Friday in the midst of preparing for exams on the following Tuesday and Wednesday.

The end of the academic rainbow is within our reach. If only it could be this pretty.

No matter how “reasonable” the notice I receive happens to be, this situation is a classic example of an organizational process model revealing its human flaws. Other students may face much more daunting tasks than I, and there is little they can do about it other than complain to the Registrar’s Office, which is famous for dragging its feet in any official academic complaint. One could argue that a sensible student would have planned ahead for the crunch time. I would respond that I planned to the extent that I could, as I would in any other quarter. Unfortunately, this quarter gave me less time to do the same amount of classwork, along with an uptick in non-academic work as I sought, among other things, to secure a job for the summer. The most I could do was plan to be stressed.

So, instead of Dead Week, we now have a Dead Week time-lapse, complete with a new energy drink called “eVolv.” At least the primal scream will sound the same. Although I normally opt for the stoic approach, I may even participate this year, especially if some partially deaf aficionado of electronic music sits across from me in the library with erratic beats emanating from his or her earbuds. If we are loud enough, perhaps someone at the Registrar’s Office will notice.

Don’t want to wait in line for Ike’s? Then go to class!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

No, I'm not kidding. You can cut the line at Ike's.

Let’s face it, most of us have skipped class at one point or another during our Stanford careers. Whether you missed class because you think that you can cover the material on your own or because you were tired because you were up all night trying to cover material that you missed in class or just because you didn’t feel like it, the thing is, sometimes we’re missing out on the incredible academic opportunities that we ostensibly came to this university for. Plus I’m pretty sure professors do notice when three times the regular attendance shows up to the midterms. And I’m sure it hurts. If only we had something more than world-class professors who care about us to convince students that showing up to class was actually a good idea…

Lucky for us, now there’s an app for that. Stanford grads Andrew Bellay and Weston McBride have released CreditU, an app (currently for iOS only but Android and other versions are in the works) that rewards students for getting to class on time. As they put it, “half of the battle is just showing up – literally.” How do they plan on getting students to go to class? Through CreditU, they’re offering rewards like “free coffee and burritos, signed footballs, and the ability to cut to the front of the line at Ike’s.” Wait, the chance to bypass the hours-long line at Ike’s? I’m sold.


If It Ain’t Broke…. Why I Don’t Support the Stanford NYC Campus Proposal

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

A study in contrasts.

West Coast, best coast.

As a SoCal native and lifelong Californian, to me this phrase sums up not only the Californian lifestyle and culture but also the tremendous advantages of going to school in the beautiful, entrepreneurial West.  Right next to San Francisco and San Jose, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley (and 45 minutes from the beach!), we have all the resources a pioneering academic institution needs for inspiration, exchange, and advancement.

Why mess with that?  Interestingly, in the past few months, some Stanford administrators have proposed the creation of an additional Stanford campus in New York City.

Granted, there are some valid motivations.  Because “New York dominates the fields of finance, media and fashion, but has underachieved in science and engineering,” Mayor Bloomberg and others have requested that universities submit proposals for new technical graduate programs to be launched in the city (Wall Street Journal).  President Hennessy and others have argued that a Stanford satellite campus could transform New York into a second Silicon Valley.  Per Hennessy, a NYC campus would make Stanford a “world-class model for the multi-campus university” and “increase the university’s visibility on the East Coast and perhaps connect with new sources of philanthropic support.”

Were money, time, and resources no object, this might represent an interesting academic experiment.  However, in my opinion this is an unnecessary venture that is at best an altruistic publicity stunt and at worst an expensive and distracting dilution of the international prestige of our wonderful University.

Stanford letter jackets: so hip during the Renaissance

Call me Machiavelli…

…but what do we stand to gain from a New York campus?  We already have our Silicon Valley, with all of the wonderfully symbiotic relationships with industry that it entails.  Helping New York found its own tech region would be a retrogressive move, retracing steps we’ve already taken and perfected out west.  Indeed, even if our primary motivator were altruism, wouldn’t it be more useful to build on that which is already excellent than to reinvent the wheel as a mere side project?  While I definitely agree with President Hennessy that “we are a university that serves the nation,” I think we’d do both ourselves and the nation the biggest service by continuing and expanding operations from our California campus instead of distracting ourselves from our central aims by starting from scratch in New York.


Why Stanford: Admit Weekend 2011

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The best place to spend the next four years of your life. (Photo cred: Molly MacKenzie)

The sun is shining brightly.  The track and fielders are thwarting gravity right outside my window, and Stanford’s very own Wind of Freedom is lilting happily through the trees.

As I write this post, gazing happily from the relative calm of the Visitor Information Center, it is easy to forget that we are about to be invaded.  Swarmed.  Rendered under siege.  But actually.  Starting this Thursday, good luck biking anywhere, ’cause we’ll all be wading waist deep through ProFros and their parents.  Oh, baby, it’s Admit Weekend season.

Welcome, ProFros, to the TUSB “Why Stanford” list.  The all-inclusive, ever-so-persuasive, quantitative canon of why you really should just click “yes” already and spend Admit Weekend living it up with your future classmates.  Using the latest and greatest metrics Stanford has to offer, I am about to blow your inquisitive minds as only a tour guide can.  Drumroll please….

5.  We Got Game:  #1 Division I Athletics Program

Come watch our BCS Bowl football team, #1 men's swimming team, women's basketball Final Four team, etc., etc.

  • Every year, the Director’s Cup is given to the #1 Div. I athletics program in the nation.  We’ve won it for the last 16 years.
  • If Stanford had been its own nation in the 20048 Beijing Olympics, we would have placed 19th in the world.
  • We have 35 Varsity sports.
  • We have extensive club and intramural sports programs, including sports as diverse as Ultimate Frisbee, inner-tube water polo, sand volleyball, and basketball.
  • All Stanford sports games (besides playoffs) are FREE to all Stanford students.
  • 83% of Stanford students participate in some sort of athletic activity.  This is because we have amazing activity and athletic course offerings.  After Stanford’s classes in sailing, fencing, and archery, you, too, can kick it like Captain Jack Sparrow.  Word.

Stanford alumna Sigourney Weaver rocks the Cardinal

4.  So Hot Right Now:  the Value of the Stanford Brand

In case you missed my earlier article on How Stanford is Redefining Cool, let me break it down for you.  Stanford has been the #1 dream school according to Princeton Review surveys for the past three years.  We have over a dozen career fairs on campus every year, because international employers respect the value of a Stanford education and swarm our campus on a regular basis to recruit our talent.  Not convinced?  How about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck giving up a probable #1 NFL draft pick and multimillion dollar starting salary to finish out his senior year?

If you’re reading this as a ProFro, major props – you conquered a 7% admissions rate to be where you are today.  Consider, for a moment, the flip side of the coin.  32,022 students applied this year.  That’s approximately the population of Monaco.  You’re in a tremendously desirable position.  You were one of the chosen few, and you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the best four years of your life here at Stanford.


Why College?

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Have you thought carefully about why you’re in college? Can you articulate what you want to get out of these four years? Now is an especially good time to ask these questions, because William Deresiewicz, author of a popular article on The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, will be speaking at Stanford this Tuesday, April 12th. While his thought-provoking article has a fuzzie slant, most students will see some truth in Deresiewicz’s critique of universities like Stanford.

In the meantime, if you feel like you sometimes struggle to reach your potential as a student, take a look at Cal Newport’s blog Study Hacks. Newport advocates the radical notion of a college experience centered around simplicity, and is also the author of two student advice books. In stark contrast to the mindset that academic success = more units + less sleep, he suggests taking fewer classes, performing outstandingly in them, taking on original projects that set you apart, and many other ideas. Some of the blog’s suggestions are probably best ignored, but overall it offers a ton of helpful and unique advice about college. (more…)

Finding Romance, Bing-Style

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Peter Bing, '55: Stanford donor, dating expert.

During the last two weeks of each quarter, students flock to Green Library, presumably to study. However, according to Peter Bing, ’55, they ought to gain more from the mass migration than scholarly solidarity.

At the Bing Wing’s rededication in 1999, Bing said, “I hope this wing will always be a place where students will feel secure and where they feel they belong. And I wish that they will always come here, seeking knowledge and hoping to find a date.”

Bing was not shooting from the hip, either. Earlier in his remarks, he noted the pivotal role the library played in his personal life: “The old main library, and especially the reading room with its heavy oak tables and chairs, and its high, vaulting windows, was central to my undergraduate life. It was where we came after dinner, to do our homework, to meet with friends, and to discretely observe someone we’d like to meet, ‘quite by chance,’ when it was closing time and we all left together. For me, shy, and only able to live on campus my freshman year, the reading room…was a secure place where I could feel I belonged.”

Times have changed, however, which means that waiting until closing time is not always enough to break the ice. Thus, in the spirit of Peter Bing, here’s a Top 5 list of ways to meet your match–“quite by chance”–while hitting the books.

5. Bond over YouTube. If you need inspiration, this and this should get you started (h/t James Balassone).

4. Figure out your inner animal. Apparently, I’m a proboscis monkey.

3. Ask the other person what he/she is studying. This sounds rather lame, but you’d be surprised how willing people are to share whatever knowledge they are cramming.

2. Complain together about the loud announcements the librarians make every evening, normally at 8:00pm, 8:55pm, 12;40am, and 12:55am, as if we have never heard them before. If you run out of material, you could always segue to commenting on the absurd or obnoxious behavior of one of your neighbors. Lane Reading Room, with its squeaky chairs and “high, vaulting windows,” offers ample room for opportunity.

1. The old classic: ask whoever is sitting across from you if he/she wants to get Coupa, or offer to buy the person something if he/she is too busy!

TUSGraph: magic!

Monday, February 28th, 2011