When former California Governor Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of Rancho San Francisquito real estate, hardly anyone would have guessed that land would eventually grow to 8,000 acres in size and house one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. Since its foundation in Palo Alto, California (1891), Leland Stanford Junior University, or as it is more commonly known Stanford University, has established itself among the giants of higher education, and is arguably the best college on the west coast.
Such prestige is usually accompanied with an equally prestigious atmosphere. Stanford is no exception to this as its campus was designed by famed architect Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of New York’s Central Park), who made Stanford one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. As mentioned above, since its founding Stanford’s campus has grown exponentially in size, but they have done so while adhering to Olmsted’s original architecture. A prime example of this would be the ten undergraduate resident halls (dormitories) on campus: Banner, Crothers, Florence Moore, Governor’s Corner, Lagunita Court, Manzanita Park, Roble, Stern, Toyon, and Wilbur. Stanford also offers the option of apartment residency if students wish to deviate from the dorm lifestyle, and has over 31 Greek letter organizations on campus.
The campus life at Stanford can only be described as unique, with several activities and events that make Stanford a very desirable place for prospective students. If students decide to live in the dorms, they partake in what is known as “Screw Your Roommate,” an event where students set their roommates up on a blind date with a random person. Now, although this may sound pretty scary, students usually try their best NOT to make the person they live with go through a terrible experience, so they usually pick some pretty cool people. Then there’s “Full Moon on the Quad,” which originally consisted of the seniors at Stanford finding a freshman to give a Rose and a kiss on the cheek to at midnight on a given night. Nowadays, it’s a full-out party, with live music, fun people, and lots of Listerine. Not enough for you? No problem! Have you ever heard of “Fountain Hopping”? If you haven’t, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Students gallivant around campus to dip and dive (maybe not dive; the water’s quite shallow) into their favorite fountains during post finals week. But maybe you want to do something a little more relaxed or intellectual. Look no further than the “Faculty Dinner,” an event where your dorm or dining hall sponsors one esteemed faculty member to eat and converse with you and your peers. Then there are the football games, where Stanford’s esteemed marching band, or as they refer to themselves “The World’s Largest Rock & Roll Band,” takes the field at half time, and quite often risks being banned from the schools they visit (learn more about their shenanigans here). But that’s not to say these kids don’t study, and the “Primal Scream” is proof of that. Every midnight during Dead Week, Stanford students open their windows, and fill the night air with the vocal frustration that only accompanies the aspiring undergraduate.
Stanford’s academic structure is based off of three separate schools: The School of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), The School of Engineering (9 departments), and The School of Earth Sciences (4 departments). Among top disciplines, Stanford’s Political Science program includes such noteworthy faculty as Condolezza Rice (Former U.S. Secretary of State) and Michael McFaul (Former U.S. Russian Ambassador), resulting in a #2 ranking among undergraduate political science majors. Their Mathematics program is currently ranked 6th in the world, and their undergraduate psychology program was recently ranked #1 by socialpyschology.org. Stanford’s Engineering School consistently ranks in the top five, and currently sits in the #2 spot of undergraduate engineering programs behind MIT.
Out of the students admitted into Stanford, the average SAT score ranged from 2010 to 2300. This means that, in order to be accepted, a student would most likely need to land a 660-760 on Critical Reading, 680-780 on Math, and 670-760 on Writing. In addition, 87% of Stanford’s incoming freshman class grade point averages anywhere from a 3.75 to 4.00 GPA (on the 4.0 scale) in high school. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that Stanford listed a 6.6% acceptance rate in 2012.
Furthermore, with such prestige comes a high price as well. In 2013, Stanford was listed as one of the most expensive schools in the country, with a tuition bill of $43,245 per student (and that doesn’t even include the $13,166 room and board bill!). But, with an endowment of over $18 billion, 51.1% of full-time students receiving some kind of financial aid, and 49.7% receiving Scholarship or Grant aid, it goes without saying that paying for a Stanford education is quite feasible.
Stanford Fun Fact:
The school logo, which contains a tree with the cardinal “S,” is a tribute to the Redwood-rich land surrounding the small California town of Palo Alto. In fact, the name Palo Alto actually translates into, “Tall Tree,” taken after a giant California Redwood on the bank of San Francisquito Creek.