Review of Stanford University

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar_gray By: Mariel P., Student Posted: April 26, 2011

My review

The Good:

You can do anything. Really. I came here to be a biology major and decided that I was more interested in the making of health policy-- instead of floundering, I was able to quickly pick up a new major (medical anthropology) with which I was infinitely happier. Better yet, I had incredible support from faculty and my peers not only throughout that transition but before and after; everyone wants everyone to do well, and both students and professors do so much to push you into success without shoving you past it. Stanford will give you a platform to discuss your interests and an audience to hear them. The level of commitment to students is honestly astounding: you can get a job here, you can get an internship here, a research grant, etc. Neither of my parents went to university and none of us knew what to expect; three years later, I'm an honors student on full, need-based scholarship working on a thesis. Things didn't turn out well for me simply because I was motivated, but because there were a lot of people and opportunities in place to help me find the support (financial, emotional, and academic) I needed to really grow as a person. I honestly think that trumps the oft-cited quality of academics, incredible financial aid and school spirit, if only because I really do believe college is what you make of it, and you can make anything you want of it here. It's a sandbox for students.

The Bad:

Despite its plentiful opportunities, for some reason this school does a bad job of letting students know they're available. You're expected to know how to find opportunities and then pursue them without being told where they are or how to get them. I imagine this is easier for students who have connections to the school before coming (like legacy students), but for first gen university kids, this can be an incredible hindrance to your education. There seems to be a bizarre assumption that every student is familiar with navigating University bureaucracy and some kind of penetrative, x-ray vision for finding financial aid opportunities outside of tuition. For some reason a lot of events on campus can be cost-prohibitive and kind of classist (like dorm ski trips to Lake Tahoe, dances on a yacht, etc), but students don't seem to understand that financial assistance exists for that, too. This isn't the fault of the students. The University just seems to struggle in letting people know that the assistance exists. A lot of times, that experience can be very isolating, and that isolation can be pretty personally damaging at times. Stanford students have the tendency to do as much as they can, and the pressure is definitely on. At the same time, there's a pretty lax attitude that really betrays the level of stress many students actually experience. We call it the "Stanford duck": looking calm on the surface but frantically paddling to stay afloat. This can be extremely discouraging and isolating as well, and oftentimes it can be difficult to snap out of that in a place where everyone is working just as hard-- if not harder-- than you are.

Would I do it again?

Yes, I went to a crummy public high school and had to really feed off the positive attention of a few teachers who believed in me. Many of us have the story of the teacher who really turned it around for us in high school-- at Stanford, basically every professor is THAT teacher. While there are a couple who are more interested in their own research, the professors are extremely invested in the goals of their students and go to great lengths to see them succeed in their studies and in their lives. I am deeply grateful for the time and energy that many of my professors have spent making sure I was able to pursue my interests in the ways I wanted. I have learned so much here, it would be tragic if I really exited college with the admittedly narrow world-view I had upon entering.

About this school

Biggest influence when choosing this school Financial aid

The financial aid process went smoothly and I received the financial aid I needed.

Professors are generally Inspiring

The night life is Epic

Every student at this school needs An open mind. You'll really grow if you let yourself.

Most students spend their Saturday nights Depends on the students. Attending special speaking events, studying, partying on the row-- you name it, you can do it.

About the reviewer

Went to Bellevue, WA

Currently a Junior

Favorite class is Conservation Medicine in Practice (taught by Daniel Salkeld).

Favorite professor is Cathy Haas (sign language) or Miyako Inoue (linguistics, Japanese, anthropology).

Favorite activity is Going frog hunting at the lake!

Another awesome thing is The campus is beautiful and offers a bunch of really interesting things-- we have a lake, a museum, a cactus garden, an observatory... the list goes on!

Study Hard? Pray? Donate Money? Do your best. Stanford really isn't about finding the people with the best grades. They want to see people who did the best they could, especially to positively impact their community and themselves. Get out there and dedicate yourself to what you care about! Even if you don't get in, you'll be all the better for it.

I wish I knew Some people here are from extremely privileged backgrounds and are very ignorant to and needlessly critical of the lives of others. I figure this is an issue everywhere, but it can be very disappointing for low income students ending up in a university like this.

  • Helpful 7
  • Not My Experience 0

The Breakdown:



Campus Facilities




Student Life


Surrounding Area


Worth the Money

More About the College