Families have named Stanford University their top dream college—the school they most wished their student could attend if cost and acceptance were not issues—in a Princeton Review survey for four straight years. Part of the draw: The faculty features a stunning array of innovative and important thinkers, including 20 Nobel laureates, 29 MacArthur “geniuses,” and four Pulitzer Prize winners. Stanford is the hardest school in the country to get into, accepting in only 5% of applicants. The educational demands can be intense. Students often describe themselves as “ducks,” because they try to appear serene while paddling desperately to keep going. But the results speak for themselves, especially in nearby Silicon Valley. Stanford alums founded Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and many other tech companies. Recent Stanford grads report earning average annual salaries of $68,600, about $8,000 more than the average reported by Ivy League graduates. Stanford is also generous with aid. It recently raised the size of grants for low- and moderate-income students. Families earning less than $65,000 would spend no more than $5,000; those earning $125,000 would spend less than $20,000. Stanford’s Mission-style campus is vast, and most students use bicycles to get around. An NCAA Division I school, Stanford has a longstanding football rivalry with the University of California–Berkeley. Traditions include the Halloween Mausoleum Party, held at the Stanford Mausoleum, burial site of Leland Stanford Jr. His father, a California governor and railroad baron, founded the university in his memory after the boy died at age 15.
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Beyond the prestigious name that Stanford has, the university will put you in contact with the kinds of people who are best positioned to maximize your success. The university wants famous alum after all!
The course variety is incredible, and I've had overwhelmingly positive experiences with my professors. However, I feel we would definitely benefit from emphasizing the discussion sections over the lectures, and, when possible, switching to a seminar-style format. Obviously this is difficult with large introductory classes, but research has shown that students learn subjects such as math and physics better from exploration than from lecture-style instruction.
Stanford puts effort into making every aspect of student life meaningful. The professors are experts in their fields and are most often (but of course not always) good teachers. The residence and dining staff make the living experience fun and meaningful, helping new and returning students get and stay connected with each other.