Should I Go To Stanford University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Perrine is a Phoenix tutor specializing in Geometry tutoring, SAT prep tutoring, Grammar and Mechanics tutoring, and more. She is a 2005 graduate of Stanford University where she studied Political Science and International Relations. See what she had to say about her time in college:

VT:  Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike? 

Perrine: Stanford Campus, known as “The Farm,” is breathtakingly beautiful. It is set on 8,180 acres, making it the largest contiguous college campus in America. Most students bike from classes because of the vast landscape. But, that was what made every day balanced, in terms of walking and exercise and enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings. A car is great if you want to drive to San Francisco regularly. I had both a car and a bike. With regards to my personal experience, the campus is very safe. There are 24-hour security measures in place. At the time I attended, the CIA was even there providing security for Chelsea Clinton! 

The setting and proximity to San Francisco was one of the significant deciding factors when I was making my decision about where to go to school. 

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Perrine: It depends on what classes you choose to take. There is a range – seminars include usually only 8-10 students as opposed to entry level classes such as Econ 1 which can get up to 100 or so.

Most larger classes include smaller group sessions to create an opportunity for more one-on-one attention. You learn most from the students. The student body is composed of incredible individuals dedicated to learning and creating change.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students? 

Perrine: Most students live on campus and when I attended you were required to live on campus your freshman year. Stanford endeavors to create a diverse and interesting dorm life experience that brings together people from different cultures and ethnicities. My sophomore year, I lived in Toyon, where there were eating clubs, and that was great fun. There are also themed houses and alternative housing environments such as EBF, or the Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study? 

Perrine: I studied Political Science and International Relations but took amazing classes in Physics and Human Biology. You have access to the best professors in the world and Stanford’s academic reputation is among the best in the U.S. and internationally. 

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life? 

Perrine: Greek life does not play a big role in campus social life. When I attended, there were no housed sororities. Stanford encourages a different kind of social connectedness through academics and athletics. It is very easy to build great friendships in your dorms and beyond.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Perrine: The short answer is yes, to both. The Career Center is a great resource and especially at the graduate level, there are tons of companies looking to hire Stanford grads.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges?  Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious? 

Perrine: The libraries are huge and there are many specialized libraries that give students the opportunity to access field specific materials. Stanford’s resources are seemingly infinite and I never felt crowded or that there was a lack of space.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Perrine: I was very involved in community outreach programs in East Palo Alto and loved every minute of it. In terms of the community, Atherton and Palo Alto are very affluent and family oriented towns. But, San Francisco is only 20 minutes away and most students make the most of venturing into the city.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Perrine: Class sizes vary, but most large classes have small seminar groups that provide intensive academic support. The student body is not very large compared to UC schools which is why Stanford is very difficult to get accepted to.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Perrine: I loved working through StepOut, the community outreach program that I taught through. The kids we worked with had the opportunity to perform at Stanford in the spring and it was awesome. They were all “at-risk” kids and it was just great to see them so excited and say, “I want to go to Stanford.” That was part of a community outreach class I took and I taught for all four years.

Check out Perrine’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.