Stanford University Panel￼
Want to learn more about what it takes to apply to and attend Stanford University? Join current student and recent Stanford alum Nicholas Welch and Henry Shen as they discuss their admissions and undergraduate experiences. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-08-03 – Stanford University Panel
Sure in high school, who, as it turns out was also a Stanford alum and his name was Mr. Hernandez. So I, I gave him credit for this advice, but he told me in a class, the, the way to approach your essays is you want the admissions committee members to remember their essays by lunch, because they’ll read 200 essays, uh, before lunch.
And if they remember yours out of all, the 200, you’re gonna be in great. And he gave three different tests. Uh, you can, you can do, um, the first one, uh, he affectionately called it the jackass test. Although for, uh, clarity here, I’ll say initial look over test. So just like, yeah. Are you a decent person? Are you not a jerk?
Things like that. Uh, then that goes into the, the gets it test, um, which is like, um, what’s a good way to explain that if, if you’re opening line is so. To the effective, as I watched the life of, out of my dog, Milo, I learned that patience is a virtue, something really dumb like that. Um, you probably don’t get it.
Uh, the third one is the literacy test. Can you write with good conventions? Uh, can you think creatively, can you use, uh, pros, uh, to your advantage? Can you really like open up your brain and use words to express all the neurons fire inside? Um, so I spent a lot of time to try to make sure my essays looked really good and reflected who I was.
So that’s a little bit about my college application process. Uh, Common App is great because you can, you only have to do things once and you can set it to lots of different colleges. I love that. Uh, I applied to a lot of colleges. Uh, no one can bank on Stanford, but ended up working out. Okay.
let’s. okay. What made you consider other schools? Yes, I was admitted, as I say, at Stanford, Duke and Brigham Young. I was rejected from six others. Um, so, and then I was wait listed at one. So I, I, I applied really broadly. Um, a college advisor usually advises people to apply to about 10 schools, uh, three reach schools, three target, and three safety and plus, or minus one, one of those categories.
So I did something similar like that. Brigham Young was my safety. Um, Stanford, as I mentioned before, it was a total shock to me because I was so close to campus and it, it was unimaginable to me that they would take someone who didn’t have like a back door into the university. So I think it was a total fluke, uh, executive committee.
What I mean by that? Uh, as I was considering my options, I actually found the choice really, really difficult, um, because I had some other good college options, but they were farther away from home, but then Stanford also seemed compelling for a lot of reasons. So the executive committee, um, there was a, I chose five people who I decided I would consult with my college decision and only those five people, the.
Uh, cacophony of voices who was giving me advice. I wouldn’t even listen to them. I wouldn’t register what they say. I would only consult with this small committee and they all had really, uh, diverse, interesting backgrounds and different perspectives would only consult with them and no one else. And that really helped me, uh, to come to a decision I felt good about.
And I don’t think democracy is, is wonderful, uh, in many reasons, for many ways. But, um, in this case, I really like the authoritarian. Uh, small closed door proceedings, um, and something that I’d really loved at Stanford, which I think is underrated, cuz it’s, it’s not the sexiest thing to say on your website, but Stanford’s administration works like the best oiled machine you’ve ever seen.
Uh, it’s easy to switch your major. Uh, there are very few pre-reqs for classes. Um, just, there are no administrative hurdles that get in the way of a really good experience and that’s. Uh, that really sold me on Stanford S they have the resources and the time and the money to make sure that nothing about the process of being a student gets in the way of, um, actually being a student so that those were some things about my decision making process.
And last, why did I major in East Asian studies? This I, when I entered at Stanford, I didn’t even know it was a major. Uh, I started some music major. I switched to a psychology major. Then I switched to computer science, then I switched to math. Uh, then I switched international relations. It was all over.
Um, I, it sort of chose me in the sense that, um, I was considering, uh, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. And so I was just gonna do a math degree because that would make me generally employable. Um, and I spoke to a student services advisor in the East Asian studies department. I said, uh, I, I think I’ve taken a good amount of classes.
Do you think I can get a minor. The east station studies, by the time I graduate. And she said, well, actually looking at your transcript, you already have a minor. Why don’t we just make that a double major? And then as I really invested myself in that, and then I got great opportunities to study abroad. I decided that that’s actually where my passion was for.
So I, after taking tons of math and CS, I dropped the major entirely and went all out on East Asian studies. Um, I really like the department because it’s really small. So you. Really get to know the faculty well, and the faculty are just fantastic because they come from so many different departments from international relations, from sociology, from political science, uh, from Korean studies, Japanese studies, whatever you want.
Um, it’s all there and you can just meet with them basically one on one. So I, I really enjoyed my time in east Asian. Yeah. Great. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Um, this, the poll is gonna start now as well. So where are you in the application process? Um, and while those poll results come in, would love to know where your guys’ hometowns and, you know, why’d, you decide to go to college in the west coast.
And how do you like it there? Cause I’m like from the east coast. So definitely interested in hearing about the other side.
I think I’ve answered that. My fair extent already. My hometown is Palo Alto, California, born and raised in Stanford’s backyard. And I just, yeah, it Stanford. I’m really glad it worked out such that Stanford was my best option because I really enjoyed my time at Stanford. It is something going to college.
So close to my hometown is something I wouldn’t have. Uh, thought was a good idea just on my own or given lots of other options, but I’m glad that worked out and also for, for what it’s worth. Um, I was very, uh, intent on, uh, having a genuine away from home college experience. So I, I printed out a written contract for my parents, um, and they had to sign on the dotted line and the rule was I would not visit them and they would not visit me unless we both consented beforehand.
So on the one. They were protected from Sunday night. Uh, please do my laundry visits and cook me dinner. Uh, on the other hand, uh, I was protected from my mom showing up to the dorm with, uh, dozens of cookies, like saying I miss you so much. So it was in our, most of our best interests. My parents are happy to have watched.
That is really funny. I’ve never heard of that. yeah, that’s so cute. Um, I’m completely different story. I’m from like a small town in Tennessee called Oak Ridge mm-hmm um, I kind of like knew that I wanted to go to California, uh, for college or somewhere on the west coast, just cuz I’d spent like growing up, like spent some summers there spent quite a bit of time just in California and like loved the state, loved the bay area.
Um, yeah. And I’ll talk about it more when I like talk about my admission story, but um, applied mostly to schools in California, knowing that. Yeah, sure. Super cool. Um, so now we will get back to the poll results. 22%. Haven’t started yet 38% are researching schools, 26% working on essays and 14% getting application materials together.
Um, so kind of broad range over there. Um, and moving onto your experience as Henry. Yeah, for sure. So, um, had some similarities. I also used the Common App and then cuz I applied to some UC’s, uh, there’s like a separate UC application. Uh, and then I applied to Stanford, uh, during the early round and got in was super happy, cuz it was like my it’d been my top pick since like freshman year, um, in terms of colleges.
And then if we look at kind of like the timeline, like before. Um, this Stanford, like early decisions come out. Um, I’d applied to the UC’s. Uh, so Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD. And then, um, also USC, I think in like November or something. Uh, and then after I found out about Stanford, I applied to Yale, Harvard for regular decision.
Um, but overall I was looking for schools. uh, I think like unique strength that other things couldn’t replace. Like, for example, I’m a really into like songwriting and music. So, um, with UCLA and USC, I was applying to their like music programs or like songwriting minors. Um, with that in mind, also looking for like a strong LGBTQ plus culture on campus.
Um, and then. Like maybe this like goes up being said, but definitely fun, fun things to do in the area. Um, I was a little bit like Palo. Alto’s not the most fun city. I’m not gonna lie, but the bay area has just like so many great restaurants and just like awesome sites, fun things to do. Um, and then I’d say like my friends in college, when I was in high school, I’d call them like my essay editing angels, cuz I definitely relied on them for like advice and just like, know.
Um, especially like being from Tennessee, not having a ton of resources, like knowing what, um, was kind of the vibe and what was like supposed to kind of go into college essays. Yeah. Oh yeah. And then, so talk about this super briefly, but I knew I wanted to go to college in California. I, I mean, just like the combination of everything, like I love the weather.
Food is great. People are fun. Um, it’s a great state. Uh, and then. I was admitted to USC, some of the UC’s and also Yale along with Stanford. And then I ended up picking Stanford. Um, first obviously, cuz it’s in California and then I love like the kind of free spirited vibe on campus. Like my dorm next year, Nicholas, you’ve probably heard of it, but it’s called enchanted broccoli forest.
And it’s like, it’s just that vibe. Like it’s, everything is very like free spirited. There’s a lot of just like kind of random fun things going on. that’s what I was looking for, like in addition to really good academics. Um, and I knew I really wanted, um, in terms of academics, like an interdisciplinary education, because I’d come from like really like musical and artistic, but also very much focused in like biology stem, like, um, kind of, I guess your like quantitative side of things.
Um, so I wanted somewhere where’s something where I could like combine the two. And I think Stanford has really given me that, uh, especially through my major, which is quite literally, like, I think I talk about on the next. Yeah, but it’s quite literally like a mix of just computer science and essentially like a humanities topic of your choosing.
So cuz I do music, I chose, um, computer music, which is, uh, I essentially like take the computer science core and then some like philosophy psychology classes and then, um, music. And so it’s super interdisciplinary. And the reason I really wanted to do it is cuz I get to like complete my major basically with classes that I’d want to like choose to take anyway, which has been really fun.
Great. Thank you guys so much for sharing your experiences. Um, so that’s actually the end of the presentation part of the webinar. Uh, just remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, and we’re gonna move on to the live Q&A tab now. So just make sure to submit your questions there.
Um, I know some people also submitted some questions while they were registering, so I guess I can start off with those. Um, first one is some students are wondering about the essays. So if you’re comfortable sharing, what did you write your Common App essay about? Um, and any advice on those Stanford supplemental essays?
Yeah. Yeah. Having to talk about that. So for the personal statement I submitted to Stanford, it was about like, it was about my dad. Um, this like present he gave to me when I was really little, which was like, literally like a book about biology and that like, from that point, Like I started just reading like a ton of things.
Like, I don’t care if it was about dinosaurs or like different types of reptiles. When I was like, I think eight, I even bought like a book about medieval diseases and I would just like read constantly about just random biology things and that stayed through into high school, um, where I got a lot more involved in things like biology, Olympia and science school, um, and research.
Uh, so that kind of like guided a lot of my way. Uh, and then I also, like, this is something super important to me, but I wanted to like add a lot of my just personal. Like different dimensions of myself into the application, not just like my academics and, you know, being a student, all that. So like, for example, I wrote about, um, Like we have a question for Stanford.
That’s like, describe yourself when five words, I just went like all out whack on it. And I wrote like extra hot pumpkin spice latte or something. And I wrote, I wrote about Nicki Minaj. Like I wrote about a lot of just really random things. And I, I think to that point, like, it’s great to really show apologies or personality, cuz you’re trying to look for somewhere that fits you.
Um, you’re not trying to like fit yourself to them. I’d say the point is to like bring your authentic self. And that usually is the strongest essay. Anyway.
Super briefly on my end, I wrote my Common App essay about an experience I had, uh, in the summer of after my sophomore year of high school, I swam from Alcatraz prison into the island in San Francisco, into the. San Francisco mainland. And I just wrote about, uh, why I did that in my journey in building up enough strength and stamina to withstand cold water, to, to make it there.
So not, yeah, not like the most creative, but it is meaningful to me. So that’s good. That’s super cool. Yeah, super cool. Um, next question we have here, so I know the both of you applied early action if that’s correct. So just wondering, you know, what made you decide to apply restrictive early action? And if you could explain more about how that early action works at Stanford, that’d be great.
Yeah, well actually I applied early action to a different school. And was deferred from there. So Stanford, I applied regular decision, but Stanford early action is, uh, identical to how a lot of schools do it, which is, uh, you send your application on or around November 1st and you can only apply to one school restrictive early action.
So then, you know, even before you have to send in your regular decision applications, if you’ve been admitted, rejected, or deferred, meaning just put into the regular. Um, before you even have to send in the rest of your applications. So it can be an advantage if you feel pretty confident about, uh, where you wanna go.
And usually the Stanford admits a higher percentage of applicants who properly in regular, although on their website formally, they claim that there’s no advantage for either group, but who.
yeah, for sure. And I, I did, um, apply early action, as Nicholas said, it’s like you and for private colleges, like you can apply to one school if the early action’s called like restrictive. Um, and then you apply during the fall and find out like, I think early December, um, about like the admission result.
And the reason I really wanted to apply early action was cuz um, I guess neighbor was just like the combination of things that I like wanted in college, like the interdisciplinary, um, like majors plus like a really kind of like free spirited culture inside of, um, the bay area. Like they’re just kind of like, it was, it’s a really unique school in that sense.
Yep. Um, and just for definition sake. So I do believe that restrictive early action means that you don’t, you aren’t bound to attend the school. If you’re accepted, that’s what early decision means. But the restrictive part comes in because you’re technically not allowed to apply early to any other programs, even if they are early.
Yeah. That’s spot on. Yeah. Okay. So directive early action. You can only apply to one school and that includes even other schools, which aren’t restrictive early action. You can still only apply to that one school, but only applies to private schools. And you’re not bound to accept that. Uh, even if you do get it.
yep. That’s a distinction. Um, so we do have a student here. That’s wondering, what do you think are those key factors that helped you get into Stanford? Um, whether it was essays or extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, um, what factors of your application helped you to stand out? Yeah, I’d say like, I did actually read my admissions file so I can speak to like literally a few factors that, um, helped out.
So. That I thought was just surprising was that, um, they commented how I was like a strong applicant from outside of the three main cities in Tennessee. It’s funny, cuz I’m like from one of the main three main cities, just from like a suburb of it. Um, so I was like, okay, cool. They don’t know Tennessee geography, but I’ll take it.
Uh, and then I think the rest of it was like mostly being, um, like expressing like a lot of, kind of just authentic, personal. Feelings opinions. Like, I wasn’t really afraid to just like, write about truly what was interesting to me. Um, in combination with like, having like pretty good, like test scores and, um, like stem related achievements, which I guess like ton down, like the craziness in my essays.
And I think that’s like part of my personalized approach. It’s not gonna work for everybody. It just depends on who you are. Um, but yeah.
I unfortunately know very little about the reasons why I was admitted. Uh, by the time I had tried to read my application, they had already deleted the comments. So I feel like I should Sue them, but yeah, who knows? But, um, yeah, there is no silver bullet, I think extracurricular and your essays matter a lot for the reason that Stanford receives way more academically qualified applicants than they could ever possibly accept.
So, uh, the way I think, uh, like one approach to do is just try to monopolize your, your activities and your persona, just when you’re writing your essays, you can just think, is it possible that anyone else in the country could say what I’m saying? Because if there’s a repeat, then I think that’s, you’re kind of in dangerous territory.
So this do something that’s really like, not only like meaningful and personal to you, but also 100% unique to you. I think that can do a lot of favors. Yeah, 100% also, I feel you because I go to Columbia and I think they’ve also wiped my record. So I can’t access to them, which is unfortunate, but, um, kind of to answer that question as well.
So I’ve, I’ve done a couple of these webinars with different admissions officers and we’ve kind of all agreed that essays are really like one of the best places that you can really personalize, um, and add that personal touch to your. Your essay so people can see, you know, just, it, it adds some life to your application.
Um, so definitely it’s good to focus on your essays. Uh, some students here are wondering about like financial aid and scholarships at Stanford. So if either of you are like aware of those and can speak to the policies that exist at Stanford yeah. Financial aid is super generous to stand. So it’s 100% for the financial aid regard.
Tuition room and board. So just like the, the cost of attending college, that’s a hundred percent need based, has nothing to do with any of your academic or extracurricular credentials. And it’s just, you submit your parents, tax returns and assets and things to that nature. And they decide based on some algorithm, how much money you got and it’s super generous.
I think the latest policy is something like. Most parents whose household is under $150,000, that’s their annual income and typical assets for that income bracket will pay absolutely nothing for tuition. It’s something pretty ridiculous like that. So great financial aid and scholarships are also great.
Uh, from my own experience, I’ve, I’ve worked three, uh, summer internships and all of which were unpaid, but in each of them, I was able to go to Stanford and say, I have this, uh, great internship opportunities. Nongovernmental organization doing work at Karama. Um, and they just basically paid me on behalf an organization basically reserved away in different entities.
So Stanford is, yeah. As far as scholarships go, I can’t imagine a place would be any better. Yeah, for sure. And I think you covered essentially all of it. I would just say like, definitely also if you’re like first gen low income, like fly a fly student. Look into the program, into a program called QuestBridge.
It can give you a free ride to Stanford or, um, a lot of other schools and it’s a separate application, but, um, I have quite a few friends that like went through that process and ended up like getting matched, um, to schools that they really are excited about. Excited about going to. So, um, that’s always a great option and Stanford’s included in that like, Cool.
Oh yeah. Great. Thank you guys. Um, I guess this question is more so geared towards Nicholas. Um, but how does being a local applicant affect your admission decision? Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, As I mentioned before, I actually made a written contract of my parents because very important to me that I have an away college experience and I have this be independent and doing important.
So I think like being a local applicant is by no means that it’s. I’m actually really happy having Stanford and what’s on me. And there are some perks just, uh it’s. Yeah. There’s, there’s no added stress of bleeding. I feel, I felt very comfortable, like moving into my norm because I just had to load up my luggage in the trunk of.
And drive it over. Uh, so it’s like, there was like an entire element of stress that was just removed. Um, and that I think allowed me to pursue other things. So it, it, I think it depends on each person. Some people will say absolutely not. Um, but I just, I had, I had very clear boundaries, uh, so I knew all of my needs would be satisfying.
And then work. Great. Great. Thank you. Um, so with these college panels, we’re always going to get questions about the numbers and the stats. Um, so some students are wondering, like, did you have a perfect GPA? What were your test scores like? And do you think that Stanford finds that to be like really important in, um, looking at applicants?
Yeah, so I. I had a good GPA and good test force, uh, 99th present in both categories. I think it’s important just because the volume of applications Stanford receives is so immense and it’s yeah. It’s, it’s important for you to have good sense just to even make it to phase two of the application. Like, obviously they’ll look at every different part, but.
Um, yeah, if your grades are really poor and then there’s like, seriously compelling regarding like your extracurriculars or otherwise, then it’s, it’s hard to make a sell. Uh, so yeah, grades are really important just because it’s really competitive. Yeah. Um, definitely would agree. Grades are super important.
Um, but just also wanna add the context, like they. I at least in my like, opinion, I feel like stats are kind of like a check that you can do the work at the school and you can, you’ll be like academically able to keep afloat. Um, but also like super, super, maybe even more important are your essays, what you do extracurricular in like who you are as a person, cuz they’re trying to build an interesting class, but um, I would say the same, like I had, um, like a high GPA and like test scores weren’t really an issue.
Yeah. Thank you guys. That definitely makes sense. Um, we have some students here wondering about careers. Do you know what you want to do? Like after college and also has Stanford set you up? Well, um, for careers.
Yeah. I, I don’t know exactly what I wanna do. I’m applying to law school at the moment. Uh, yeah. East Asian studies degree. It’s not like a hard skill, like math or CS or something. So, but yeah, my finances go to law school. I think I can combine a lot of my interests and skill sets to have meaningful work in that area.
So that’s the plan right now. Stanford’s definitely set me up for success in the sense that it’s, um, I think it. Just the way, like I mentioned before, the administration is so well funded and so well run. Like it’s nothing that gets in the way of doing what you really want to do. So it’s just allowed me to explore everything I wanted.
And so I think it, yeah, saved a lot of time. Didn’t have to jump through as many hoops to figure out what I like and what I’m good at. Yeah. And I think, um, I’ve considered like a ton of different careers as I’ve gone through Stanford. Um, and then I’ve come to like the least creative one. Uh, so I’ll probably be working in consulting post grad.
Um, but yeah, I think like longer term, I definitely want to, um, go into the music industry and specifically like music tech, um, working with like on Trump in your shape, but yeah. great. That’s really cool guys. Um, so some students here are wondering about the interviews. Did you guys interview, um, if so, any advice for students?
Yeah, I did the interview. Um, my. It like being in Tennessee, like, it definitely depends on your location if you get one and it’s not an indication of whether or not they’re like looking at you as an applicant, it’s just based on whether or not there’s alumni in your area. There happened to be one in mine and he was this really sweet, like elderly man.
And we just went to a coffee shop and he kind of just like talked about his experience. Um, and it really felt like. Definitely like a two way street. Like I was learning about his Stanford experience as much as he was like, learning about why I wanted to go and like what I, you know, do in my free time and all that.
Um, but yeah, really positive experience overall. I’d say like the best approach you can do is to like, have the kind of like obvious questions answered or have answers ready for that. Um, I at least an idea of what, you know, you’re gonna say, like, why do you want to go to this school? You know, What, what clubs are you involved in?
Stuff like that. Um, but just be ready to go. And also just have like a conversation with this other person who probably has a really interesting life and, um, interesting college experience, a lot of stuff to learn about, you know? Yeah, I think so. I wasn’t interviewed by Stanford. Uh, in, when I applied, they didn’t interview anyone living in California.
I dunno how they allocate their alumni resources. I will say. I’ve spoken to alumni who have done the interviews. So they’ve received whatever behind the scenes training they get and basically, uh, yeah, to be fully candid. The interview will not be a factor in admission. Uh, you cannot have your chances of admission hurt by the interview.
Like even if you bomb. Or think you bomb and the interviewer writes you a terrible memo and sends it off to the mission office like this person’s so unprepared Stanford won’t use that against you whatsoever. They’ll just think, well, cuz there are too many alumni are all different. There’s no way to objectively determine who the interview went or one.
So they just they’ll just disregard the, say something weird happened and that’s fine. So basically like obviously I think it’s valuable to go to the interview for all the reason time we was talking just really good to get to know. Uh, also just good practice interview. Uh, you literally can’t go wrong with, yeah.
Thank you guys. Um, so how would you describe student life at Stanford? Everything from dining halls to dorms to general, uh, vibes on campus. I think something, a lot of people say is that like every student at Stanford’s experiencing a different version of the school, like there’s. Different Stanford for everyone.
Um, like, and I think I occupy like kind of spaces that are very separate, like I’m in the consulting group, but I’m also, um, involved with like people that make music on campus, which for some reason just usually don’t combine. Um, but one thing that I think is really interesting is that we have. really like cool.
Just types of dorms. So there’s your like, generally, like you’ll go in and live in like a dorm with all freshmen when you’re first starting, uh, first starting out. But then as the, as you get older, you can choose to live in a lot of different types of housing. So there’s obviously like Greek housing, um, and row style housing where you’re living in like a house, a literal like house inside of the dorm.
Uh, there’s also like specialty dorms. So we have, uh, dorms that are. they advocate for like public service or, um, for like creative things. Uh, and then the type of dorm I’m living in is called a cooperative. So in this type of dorm, we literally like cook and clean and kind of run the house as a community.
Um, so if you want that more like kind of communal style living there, there’s that also, but I’d say like, there’s just an there’s options for everybody in terms of student life. Like, there really are so many different just like sex and groups on campus. Like it’s, um, there’s something for every. Yeah, I could add to that.
Um, yeah, everything about dorms are really cool. I’ve had good experiences. Um, the thing I love about student life at Stanford is it’s really unsupervised. Um, which is like, you can’t literally do anything, but in some sense you can’t and like, no one, if you wanna be a hermit and just code all day, like you can do that.
Uh, that’ll be fine, but you can, you can just join any activity, walk into any dining hall friend group. You. There are basically like no boundaries for what you can do. Stanford is so unsupervised that teachers are not allowed to Proctor exams. They leave exams in the front of the room and then students just go and pick them up and they take the tests in a room with just students.
Like it’s very unsupervised. You get a lot of independents to do what you want. And I really like that. Great. Thanks for sharing guys. Um, so we have a student here who’s wondering about diversity on campus. So would you say that the campus is pretty diverse? You know, what diversity initiatives are you aware of on campus?
Um, and is it easy to find a community? Yeah, for sure. So, um, I’m queer and I’d say there’s definitely like a super strong queer community on campus and there’s resources for. Um, kind of like underrepresented or minority group, for sure. Um, like we even have houses that are specifically dedicated, like there’s like ethnic theme houses, um, for like different minorities.
And then, um, like, this is just speaking, frankly, but like the cooperative community. So like the type of the, kind of like communal living, cooking, clean for the house, very queer. So, um, that was also a reason that I wanted to join that and go to Stanford. Um, but yeah, lots of diversity initiatives on campus.
I’d say it’s not a perfect school. Know where it is. Um, but there, like, I think in general, students are like trying to, to make it good for everybody. I think, I just add to that. Um, having been an editor for the Stanford daily for most of my time at Stanford, um, the, the administration is really receptive to ideas from the community.
And if you, yeah, like, like I was saying, Noah’s perfect, but if you have an idea, uh, you definitely have a platform to make your.
Great. Thank you guys. Um, I see that it’s almost 8:40 now, so that brings us to the halfway point of the Q&A. Um, so over here we actually have a little bit of a plug for CollegeAdvisor. So for those of you in the room who aren’t already working with us, Uh, we do know how overwhelming the admissions process can be.
Uh, so here at CollegeAdvisor, we have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts who are ready to help you all navigate it through one on one sessions. Um, so you can actually sign up. For a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team here.
Um, just using the QR code. Uh, so during that meeting, we can help give you one on one guidance, whether it’s reviewing your current extracurricular list or discussing an application strategy, um, and shifting back over to the Q&A tab. Cool. Um, could you guys talk about what the popular majors are on campus, um, and how easy it was to change your major?
I know you guys both talked about that a bit earlier, but just to see what different options, um, perspective students might have.
So the, the most popular major by far is computer science. I think, uh, most recently around 20% of the graduating class. So. 400 students out of 2000 were computer science majors. So that’s very popular. Uh, I think management, science and engineering is basically like Stanford’s business major. Uh, it combines a lot of different disciplines into that.
That’s also very popular. Psychology is very popular. Um, but, uh, like all the departments are good. That’s a really nice thing about it. When I wanted to move to a really small. There, there was no question like, oh, this is sort of the underfunded forgotten corner of the campus. So it wasn’t like that at all.
East Asian studies has like its own library and its its own building with faculty offices, just every, every department is really well taken care of and you can’t go wrong. . Yeah, I completely agree on that. Um, and even though we have this like big, you know, tech and computer science focus, it’s like Nicholas said, it really is like every department is good.
Like me, I’m taking both computer science and music classes. There’s no difference in like quality, even though Stanford, like music is not is definitely not even like probably a top five thing. We’d think of when, you know, hearing the, the name Stanford. Um, but it’s like every single. Department has amazing professors.
I’d say some of the like nontechnical departments actually have better professors than, um, like the, some of the like math, uh, math classes, or like some of the more tech. Tech departments, but yeah, there’s definitely like a big, big emphasis on both like tech and we call like, like fuzzy or like non, non like, uh, technical majors.
Great. Thank you. Um, so we have some students here who are wondering, is there anything that surprised you, um, about Stanford when you got there?
Yeah, let’s see. I think, yeah, something that surprised me in a really good way is just, uh, how open minded the students are. I, I really expected everyone just to be sort of like a monolithic high school student who just like me studied the rains out and is. . Yeah, I, I, I don’t know why I thought that, but everyone at Stanford is so cool, but it also, so open mind, it’s really easy just to sit down and talk with anyone about anything and you can learn a lot.
And I think I, I, I thought that was sort of a fantasy. Um, but it turns out that’s, uh, quite actually how it works there. Yeah, for sure. Um, I’ll follow up with a negative just cuz it’s the first thing that came to mind, but it is surprisingly cold at night at Stanford. just being from not the, not the like bay area.
I was not expecting that. I was like picturing like beautiful California weather all the time, but it gets hot. It gets cold. Like you’re, you are gonna experience that at different points throughout the year. So something to keep in mind, it’s not like it’s not perfect, but it is awesome.
That’s crazy. I didn’t realize that. Um, and kind of on the inverse side of that, what would you say are your favorite things about Stanford specifically?
I think, yeah, I think my favorite things, some of my favorite things, I mentioned some of them before already, but just, um, how having a lot of money in your endowment just is a really good thing because it. Every part of the way the university works works really well. I just, I have lots of friends who go to lots of different colleges and I just, I hear so many horror stories of how an otherwise wonderful experience at a beautiful campus just became.
So like disappointing when they couldn’t switch their major, they’re like walked into apartment or it like just. Little problems that come up in metastasize income, big problems that just that so rarely happens at Stanford. Definitely hasn’t happened in my experience. And I, I just think there’s such a huge advantage of going to a place that has the resources and the desire to just take care of you.
Um, I would know about Stanford. Yeah, completely agree. I was gonna say something similar. Like the thing I really love about Stanford is that your Stanford experience can be basically whatever you want it to be like. I have a completely different experience and like a lot of other, even symbolic systems majors, um, like you can, there’s something, like I said, for everybody, like what, whatever you want to do, whatever activity or like style of living or like, um, like social community, you wanna be a part of it’s there, um, in some capacities.
So for sure, that’s one thing I love is that your experience is so flexible and it’s really, you can tailor it to.
Great. Thank you guys. Um, let’s see. Uh, so we have some students here wondering about if you’ve ever dealt with imposter syndrome, just going to such a competitive school. Um, and how, how did you overcome that? If so, uh,
Oh, I guess. Okay. Sorry. I thought you were going. Uh, okay. I think let’s see. I would say, uh, I’d push back on the premise of the question in the sense that Stanford is not a competitive school. Uh, I had never had anyone in my whole time at Stanford, asked me what my grades were or compare grades. Um, I. Like, there’s no temptation to like cheat on homework or get ahead of the curve or anything like that.
It’s just, Stanford is so collaborative and it has all the benefits of like really like elite, I don’t know, Ivy league resources and high quality faculty, and then none of the disadvantages of our competitive cut for environment. So I think it’s the best of both worlds. So, um, yeah, if you have imposter syndrome, I think a lot of it is self-induced and.
you can make friends and they’ll tell you honestly how they’re feeling and then, and then it’s gone. Yeah. I like, I also don’t think I’ve experienced much imposter syndrome since going to campus. Um, I’d say probably the closest thing I felt is like, um, like switching from a really kind of like stem and music oriented background to doing business and consulting.
Um, and, um, yeah, I’d say like overall. Uh, the there’s definitely like imposter syndrome is a thing on campus. Like people experience it and it’s, it’s valid, but it’s like, um, like Nicholas said, I think a lot of it is just finding it within yourself to like speak openly with people about how you’re feeling.
And you’ll find that like everybody at Stanford will support you, um, will just take away those, whatever, like it is that, you know, might be giving you that imposter. great. Definitely makes sense guys. Um, so some students are wondering what your classes are like. Um, how was the transition when you first started taking class at Stanford?
Was it really difficult compared to high school? Um, then how are your classes now? Yeah. Um, I’d say. they are my classes take a lot more time than my classes did in high school. But I wouldn’t say that they’re harder. Um, per se, like I think the expectation is that you’re like more engaged, especially in like, um, like group style discussion classes or smaller ones, like, but part of the experience is that those classes are really fun and they they’re, they themselves are engaging.
It’s not like something that you’re having to force yourself to do. Um, And I’d say for like stem classes, if you’re gonna compare to like a high school, depending on where, where you are and like what type of high school you’re going to, it’s the answer’s gonna be different. Like, I think a lot of people that especially like grew up in the bay area, like say that the Stanford classes are like a lot easier than what they did in high school.
But like, for me, comparing to my high school classes in like a Tennessee school, the Stanford classes, especially on the stem side are like a lot more like technically challenging. Yeah. For. Great. I think, uh, like Stanford classes, they’re not easy. Of course that would be really disappointing if they were, um, they would sort of, yeah.
Defeat the purpose of the university. Um, but I think there are number of structural advantages, which can make it. More manageable for students. One is a quarter system. Stanford’s not on semesters, it’s on quarters. So it means even if you’re in a class that you find difficult or it doesn’t align your interest immediately, you discover three or four weeks in that you don’t really like this material.
That’s okay. You haven’t like wasted one eight of your whole college education. Like you only have six more weeks to go and then you can move on to something else. I think that’s really great. Uh, there are also no general ed requirements at Stanford in the sense that there’s no like one class, every Stanford student has to take, they have like breadth requirements.
So they have like eight different buckets or categories of classes. And you need to take certain classes in each bucket, but like two Stanford students could never take your class in common and still graduate with a Stanford degree. So it’s really customizable based on what your interests are, what your strengths are.
So you can just make it. Yeah. Also wanna follow up on like the quarter system, like great point. And like, we have a shopping period too, that lasts for three weeks. So if you find that a class is too challenging or you don’t like it, you can, I mean, you can be 30% of the way through the class, like three outta the 10 weeks, um, and quit right at the end there, and you’ll be fine and it doesn’t show up on your transcript or anything.
So there’s a lot of flexibility in that sense, too. Great. And kind of piggybacking off of that. Um, so what would you say is your favorite class that you took at Stanford?
Yeah, I think my answer would have to be this, um, like really small discussion based class that I took freshman year. Um, and it was with a psychologist named Carol Dweck who like coined the term, like growth mindset. If you ever heard about like, uh, it’s essentially like the belief that your intelligence and your ability, you can change it through like hard work.
And it’s not something that’s like fixed and like inherent to your like genetics or whatever. So taking that class, especially with a psychologist who. found that concept out was really, really interesting to me. Um, and we, like, I think I’d say it it’s also like one of the most impactful classes that I’ve taken on my like life in general.
Like, because of that class, I picked up ping pong, went back into figure skating after like quitting in high school. Um, it really, like, I think brought me to like, realize that I can grow and I can like change my ability and stuff. So yeah. There’s like a ton of really, really impactful classes like that.
For sure. Yeah, I think my faith I’ll I’ll choose two I’ll cheat a little bit, but they were taught by the same professor. They were both about Taiwan. One was about Taiwan’s security and one was about how it transitioned from an authoritarian regime to a democracy in the nineties. And those were so interesting.
The obviously aligned with my interest for obvious reasons. And, um, but the teacher was so good, like so well prepared. It was a, it was like Henry’s class, like a small discuss. Kind of class. So like you have a lot of readings to do, but then you can come together and, and talk about contemporary issues, uh, that are really important to Taiwan and the PRC in the United States.
And like, it’s like, Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Like I’ve been glued to Twitter over the past few days, just because like, I can really understand in a deep way, uh, what’s going on and all the legal intricacies. Yeah. So that’s, that’s been, so it was so fun and so informative. Great. Thank you guys. Um, so some students are wondering here, like, would you consider yourself a well-rounded student back in high school or did you do a special passion project to gate admission to Stanford?
I think, uh, well rounded. I feel like you kind of have to do both. Um, you can’t do either. Or, uh, if you’re well rounded, you’ll just look like the exact same as 30,000 other people. And if you only do a passion project, then you’ll be missing out on valuable experiences that will reflect poorly. I think, I think Stanford just the nature.
the admissions process and how competitive it is. I think you have to do both. You have to know a good amount in a lot of areas, and then you have to have something unique or special about you, which catches it admissions and allows them to remember you by lunch and invite you in. So they both, yeah, I was gonna say similar, like you.
You don’t have to be like, uh, a perfect applicant or whatever that means or anything. But, um, it definitely helps to at least have like all areas be strong and like, not a question, um, and not like a place to question of whether or not you’d be able to like, survive at the school. So having like decent or like good grades and like pretty good test scores, like that’s gonna be super helpful.
And then for me also, like I had a spike of doing, um, biology, Olympiad and having like a national level. Um, like designation from that. So I think my video’s cutting out, but, um, yeah, I think in that sense, like, I mean, people’s stories are all different. Like the class is built up of the class is like specifically built to be super diverse and have a lot of different types of people with different backgrounds.
But I’d say in general, like you should have pretty good, um, things going on in all your areas. And then something that’s like unique or a few things that are unique. And that doesn’t have to be like an academic achievement. It can be a personal story, a way you grew up. Like it can be anything. Got it.
Thank you guys for sharing. Um, so I see that it’s like 8:53 now. So I did just wanna ask, you know, what’s the last piece of advice that you want to leave your audience with tonight? I’m also reflecting back on your college applications. Is there anything that you regret or that you wish you had differently?
Yeah, let’s see. I think my piece of advice, uh, and I’ll acknowledge up front. It’s really easy for me to say this because I got into Stanford, but just, um, just really don’t take personally, um, is so competitive and is like, I, I got to Stanford for two reasons. I worked really hard. On the lottery and I’m sure all of you will work really hard and you’ll be qualified.
Like if you gotta Stanford, you do well. It’s just, if you don’t the lottery that doesn’tinternalize
should really, it was actually kinda embarrassing because I, I couldn’t celebrate my Stanford exemptions as much as I would’ve liked. Cause I was so distraught. Hindsight that is so unbelievably, like prideful. It’s kind of embarrassing. That happens. So it’s like, obviously easy, easy for me. Just if you don’t want water, all it means you’ll do great things.
Yeah. Um, I’d say for me, like for the kind of viewing college applications and like framing, how you’re thinking about it. Um, one piece of advice I’d have is to. like be authentic when you’re applying. Um, you remember that you’re looking for a school that fits you and the school’s looking for people that fit the school.
And the more you can write to stories that are really personal, the more, the stronger your essays will be. Um, and if there’s one thing that I like regretted or wish I could have changed about my experience, um, I think something I wish I’d kept in mind. That’s like important. Is that just remember that like getting into a college is not the end all be all.
That’s not, it’s part of setting yourself up to like go into the adult world and have an education, have things that you can offer. But like, remember that, I think like a lot of people, especially when applying to college, like focus on it as if like going to Stanford or going to some other school will like get you everything you want.
But no, it’s like, it’s part of the process. Towards your later life. So, um, just keep that in mind. And, um, with that like, think about, I don’t wanna say, think about like your career when you’re in high school, but just like have some kind of like idea of things that are interesting to you in fields and industries that are interesting to you and, um, look at schools and look into schools that would actually like help you reach those goals.
Not just like schools that are, I don’t know, like prestigious or something. Yeah. 100%. Thank you guys so much for sharing. Um, and thank you, Nicholas and Henry are presenters for tonight and thank you everyone for coming out tonight. Uh, really appreciate it. And you know, here is our August series that we have up.
So tomorrow we have a Cornell Panel. We have Building Your Application Timeline on the eighth. Um, How Do Admissions Officers Review Applications? We have a UPenn Panel, Q&A With Former Admissions Officers, uh, UC School’s Application Overview, AO Advice: Making Your Essay Shine, um, CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Brainstorming Your Common App Personal Statement Topic, um, NYU Panel, and to round out the month we have an Engineering Majors Panel.
Um, so thank you so much, everyone, and hope to see you guys at some of these webinars. Thanks everyone have a good one.