Posts Tagged ‘freshman’

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.


The Day Before

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

On the way to Stanford.

The rusted grass on the side of the road looked familiar, as if it had scratched the backs of my legs in a dream years ago. And the brush I must have run through, red powdery flowers staining my fingers as I scraped past—but it was too real to have been a dream. I’d traveled this road before (the car crawling up the highway) and I used to imagine my hands trailing on the road as we blew past the rolling hills of rusted grass and red-stained brush. They’d blister, like the sun on the roof of our car.

It’s hard for me to imagine just how big the great state of California is and in comparison the smallness of my town, my house, my microscopic room… and I had to leave my little niche in the world, the place I’d carved out. And yet, I realize that my parents cut out a piece of the world and set me in, let me grow bigger, helped me make that space my own as I grew into myself. I know that I’ve outgrown that cave. My head scrapes the ceiling, my legs press against the hard rock.

My pianoI ran my hands over the painted walls of the house, felt the creaking hard wood that screamed to the world I was awake at midnight on those endless Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Goodbye. I caressed the ivory keys of my piano next and mourned the end of my physical ownership of it—it will always be my parent’s piano now, the piano of my childhood, the piano I play when I go home… but never mine. The piano of Liszt and Beethoven and Turina and Debussy and even Bill Boyd (my favorite composer during those early years) is no longer mine, for I’m off to caress other keys, make other connections. But memories are just as solid as real things, if not more so; their heartbeats can be stronger than our own. Wait: I stand corrected. Emotional memories. The way it felt. The way it will always feel. (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

Putting the Man in Freshman

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

A mighty visionary once said:

“Last night,
I couldn’t even get an answer.
Tried to call,
But my pride wouldn’t let me dial.
And I’m sitting here,
With this blank expression.
And the way I feel,
I wanna curl up like a child.”

Now, not that I believe you ever need to justify reminiscing over P. Diddy’s artistic genius, but I bring up this musical excerpt for a reason.  The great Puff Daddy may have been referencing a man’s relationship with his sexual mate, but his words are just as applicable to our relationship with ourselves (God, I’m so deep).

Allow me to elaborate.  Here we are, college students on the verge of entering the “real world” sometime between 1 and 6 years in the future.  The threat of real responsibility, of adulthood, looms before us.  And we might wonder, are we really ready?  Are we mature enough to take that step into adulthood?  P. Diddy speaks the truth of our situation.  For me at least, my pride (tinged with massive amounts of fear) often prevents me from really addressing those tough questions.  And when I do get up the courage to consider the unknown future, I too just want to “curl up like a child” (especially if curl up like a child implies intense nausea).

But my questionable extended metaphors aside, this brings me to my real quandary: when are we really adults?  What is qualifier that changes us from child to grown-up?

I began pondering this question last Friday night.  On my way to visit some friends, I came upon a mass exodus of freshman from Wilbur, slowly making their way to the Row.  Eager to bypass the frat-bound herd, I weaved my way in and out of the crowd until I came to a barricade of six freshman males walking abreast, completely obstructing my path.

“Excuse me, boys.” I said, squeezing my way between them.

“Hey!” The voice resonated with indignation behind me.  I turned to confront the speaker.

The evident leader of this little band puffed up his chest.  “We are not boys,” he said proudly. “We are MEN.  We are in college now.”

While my immediate response was to choke on my own laughter while the mental image of real men (think Hugh Jackman) passed through my brain, his words got me thinking.  Does college make us men and women instead of boys and girls?  Is it the quintessential rite of passage?

One tasty dish

We learn that historically things like puberty often marked the crossover from childhood to adulthood.  Menstruation was celebrated as the entry into womanhood (and with it your entry onto the wife market).  In some ancient cultures, a boy wasn’t considered a man until he led his first hunt or survived a night camping in the wilderness alone.

Yet times have changed.  Not every boy has access to a spear and a wild boar to prove his manliness, and that first awkward trip to CVS to buy tampons made me feel anything but womanly (mortified and, again, nauseous, would be more accurate).  So what IS the gold standard of adulthood in our modern American culture?  Was the young freshman right?  Does college make us into men and women (although my maturity levels argues to the contrary)?  Maybe the distinction is something different.  Financial independence? Holding a full-time job?  Turning 21?  25?  30?  Getting married?  Having a child?  What is the qualifier?

Or are we wrong to look for some sort of obvious milestone to turn us into adults?  Maybe it is not a biological development or the ability to rent a car that makes us into grown-ups.  Maybe being men and women is only determined by something as intangible as a state of mind.

Or better yet (wait for it…) perhaps adulthood is nothing more than a construct designed by societies to force us into responsible behavior.  I ask myself, other than physicality, what distinguishes woman Andrea from child Andrea?  Responsibility?  Stress?   The feeling that I should be ashamed if (read: when) I eat ketchup by itself or cry in public?  Certainly I am more educated and more experienced than my child-self, but are we to agree with our cynical compatriots that those qualities must inevitably beget the negative components of adulthood?  Maybe we do not become adults because of a change in who we are, but the belief that we are adults compels us to modify our behavior.

I’m not arguing that adulthood – whether real or fabricated – is unnecessary; more than that, I’m wondering if, and how, it’s achievable.  Coming to Stanford certainly hasn’t made me convinced of my womanhood.  The jury is still out on whether or not graduation will (although living in a box under a bridge due to post-graduate unemployment seems like a strong contender for that distinction).  But regardless, I sincerely doubt there is some switch, some momentous event, that makes us pass instantly from child to adult*.  I’m kinda hoping that one day it’ll just sneak up on me.

So, I give a shout out to you, dear freshman boy/man/man-boy, wherever you are.  I congratulate you on your certainty of your own adulthood (I give you props if it sticks).   You have achieved something I cannot claim.  You have found your answer to my big question.  But as for me, I’ll have to continue to ponder when and what will turn me into an adult, for, to quote another musical genius of our generation, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.”

*An intense regime of Boyz II Men has proved an unsuccessful catalyst in this process