Stanford University: A Student Interview

Isabelle is a current senior at Stanford University. She is majoring in psychology and specializes in Spanish tutoring, elementary math tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, she shares her experience at Stanford University:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Isabelle: The campus feels very safe. It’s a nice balance between a self-contained campus and accessibility to the surrounding town. We often refer to it as the “Stanford Bubble,” meaning that we hardly ever leave campus. On the bright side, there’s a lot of transportation available if you do decide to venture off campus. For example, there’s a train station within walking distance, which makes it really easy to get to San Francisco. I wouldn’t say that anyone needs a bike on campus, but it certainly helps. With my bike I could get anywhere I needed to be within 10 or 15 minutes. Most of the students ride bikes, but some also get creative with scooters and skateboards.

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

Isabelle: Everyone I’ve needed to talk to so far has been very easy to get in touch with. Even as a freshman, most of my classes were small or had sections with TAs. Professors are always willing to talk after class about anything you didn’t understand or just something interesting. I also worked with several different advising offices on campus and had very positive experiences. I was usually able to get appointments the same day if I needed to, and if that one person couldn’t help me, they always routed me to someone who could.

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

Isabelle: Stanford does a great job with dorm life, especially for freshmen. The dorms each have themes and dorm-wide activities, like a scavenger hunt in San Francisco and a ski trip in the winter. Each dorm has their own dining, but students can use any dining hall around campus. Additionally, there are a few places on campus that stay open late if you get hungry.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? 

Isabelle: The most popular majors are probably computer science, human biology, and engineering. I myself am studying psychology. I chose to major in psychology because I’ve always been interested in the mind and how we learn and think. I find that all departments have supportive faculty and abundant resources.

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?

Isabelle: I found it surprisingly easy to make friends. As an introvert, I thought that I would struggle to meet people, but I honestly had no trouble making some really good friends. By the end of my first quarter, school felt more like home than anywhere else.

As for Greek life, I wouldn’t say it plays a significant role in campus life. It’s there if you want to be a part of it, but it doesn’t dominate the social scene the way it does at other schools. If it’s not for you, there’s no pressure to join in order to be included in social life.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Isabelle: Stanford has so many study spaces available. I tend to work outdoors; the weather is gorgeous! The libraries are also great and some have conference rooms with white boards available to students for studying. The only time I’ve found them to be crowded is during finals. There is also a 24-hour study room, though it can be crowded late.

Describe the surrounding town.

Isabelle: The immediate surroundings are nice, but not the most exciting; it’s mostly little shops and places to eat. That being said, it’s super easy to get into the city. There’s a train station a few minutes off campus. It takes about an hour to get to San Francisco, but it’s a nice trip. Most people tend to stay on campus.

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

Isabelle: Stanford has a medium-sized undergraduate student body of about 7,000 students. I was very impressed with my class sizes. Even as a first quarter freshman, I had small classes. I had one large lecture, but we also had weekly sections that were 15 students each. Most lectures do break into sections, so you still get one-on-one attention.

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

Isabelle: One of the most memorable experiences was in my introduction to psychology course. We had been studying the structure of the brain, as well as functions of different areas. A couple of weeks into the course, we had a section where we were able to see real human brains. There were different slices, as well as half and whole brains. The half and whole brains we were able to pick up and look at. That was definitely my favorite day in section.


Check out Isabelle’s  tutoring profile.

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