Stanford University Reviews
While I was at Stanford University, I struggled and I thrived. It is odd to see both of those adjectives together, but here is the reason why I believe I experienced both of those realities. As a high school student, school was easy for me. I excelled in my classes, so when I was academically challenged, I did not know how to cope. I failed to request for help, and I was actually put on academic probation my second year of college. That is when I realized I needed to take ownership of my education. I sought mentors and individuals who understood my backgrounds and experiences. They set me on a path towards success. That is when I began to thrive. I took classes that captured my intellectual curiosity. I was able to switch majors my junior year without neglecting all the hard work from my first two years. I found people who shared similar identities as I, and collectively we had a voice on campus. While there are ways that I feel Stanford as an institution does not cater towards people of color/minority groups, there are people on campus with whom I was able to unite. I do not regret my decision to attend this university.
Stanford University has a excellent and renowned faculty members and instruction. Although some professors are not the most skilled at teaching, there are ample free tutoring services on campus. My favorite aspect of the university was the emphasis on personal growth and the ample opportunities for research and community service.
Stanford is a great school, but you must take advantage of all the wonderful resources and networks the school has to offer or you will be losing out. The international relations major is not that helpful in preparing you for a career in human rights, but there are many classes you can take to educate you if that is the field you are interested in. I would recommend customizing your major if what is already planned out for you is not what you are interested in.
Because I wrote an honors thesis, my concentration in History was particularly intensive. As a result, I feel well-positioned to review the department. Firstly, anyone in a history class should notice that Stanford has a particularly prolific faculty. Professors often teach their own books along with those of other leading scholars in class: my African American history course, for example, included the Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by the professor himself. This level of access is a privilege, and it allows students to understand the material in the same terms as their professors. The research opportunities available to history majors expanded considerably during my time as an undergraduate at Stanford. With my first research assistant position, I was paired with a Pulitzer-nominated professor creating innovative data visualizations and publishing online. Thanks largely to the efforts of my colleagues at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), my original research group expanded from a loose collective to an institution of several dozen students, faculty, and support staff from across the burgeoning space known as the digital humanities. Utilizing state-of-the-art mapmaking software and publishing in experimental genres such as historical geography, researchers at CESTA merge powerful technological tools with classical humanistic thinking. These methods inspired my own research into the history of billboard advertising in the United States, which concerns the intersections of race, rights, and resistance where billboards stand. Without the support of a research university like Stanford, my project could never have come to fruition. While attending undergraduate courses in the "bubble" that is the Stanford campus, it's easy to lose sight of the importance of career growth. The presence of successful academics inspires many students to follow a strictly academic path, and for a long time, I was one of them. I still entertain ideas of moving further in education (I'm set to take the LSAT exam before the due date of the GraduatePrograms.com scholarship), but now I also recognize the need to earn an income and to plan my own future. When it comes to career planning, then, I would not necessarily recommend the Department of History on its own. Thankfully, Stanford provides robust career counseling and alumni services, and the biannual career fairs draw top companies who don't necessarily require technical degrees for the positions they seek to fill. I did not personally join any companies I encountered at a job fair, but I will continue my job search through my connections at the university. As a coterminal Master's student, I am returning to Stanford as a graduate student in History this fall. I will gain even greater insight into the workings of the department as a graduate student, and I'm now financially independent as well, so I hope to work with GraduatePrograms.com sometime in the future. Thank you for your consideration--if I were to win the scholarship contest, the money would support my own research. My eventual goal is to write a book and hire my own research assistants, so I can pass on the gift that my professors gave to me as an undergraduate.
Stanford was an amazing place to explore and learn more about my likes and desires. The weather is really unbeatable - it's not uncommon to have some class sessions outside. I made amazing friends through student groups and events which was awesome. I really liked my major because it allowed me to take a variety of courses. Although I'm working in a different field, I am greatly for the experiences I had here.
Stanford is an excellent place to get exposed to cultures from around the world and to interact with people with varying viewpoints and high intelligence.
The Master's program in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford was a good preparation for a job in the aerospace field. The academic programs provided a broad overview of many aerospace disciplines, including dynamics and controls, lightweight structures and materials, and rocket propulsion fundamentals. I thought it prepared me well for an entry level job as an engineer. However, I do think that most of the learning that is most important to my job now I got from hands-on work on extracurricular engineering projects, which taught me how to approach real-world design problems, how to quickly iterate through the test/fail/fix cycle, and how to deal with complex systems with a large group of people. I didn't take advantage of any of the many opportunities for in-depth research in any one specialty, which is certainly a primary draw of the program for many people, especially those looking to continue on to a PhD program or pursue a career in research or academia. However, I feel that if you are planning to start a career in industry as an entry level aerospace engineer, I think that this program was certainly adequate preparation, but probably not any better than many other aerospace programs at other institutions around the country.
One of the most valuable tools I gained from my studies at Stanford was a better understanding of the relationship between media and technology, as well as a better grasp of the technology tools that are most useful to members of the media. Courses in digital journalism and entrepreneurship, as well as workshops and tutorials on podcasting, basic HTML, and video editing have continued to be useful in my career as a content developer in educational technology. While I didn't end up in a career as a journalist (though I had previously worked as a journalist prior to getting my degree), I continue to produce freelance articles and consider myself part of the community, even if only as a hobby these days. However, my degree from a prestigious university directly resulted in being hired at my current position, and has lead to interviews with other high-level companies as I currently look for a new job. What I wish I had done differently: make better use of the connections I made while at school and pitch many of the in-depth articles I produced for publication outside of the university. I think I could have made better in-roads to an ultimately more satisfying job if I had taken advantage of the work I did at school in order to freelance and accept a job more closely related to my field, instead of jumping at the first full-time job offer (for fear of defaulting on student loans).
I really enjoyed the college experience. Stanford is a great school with a good mix of interesting, intelligent people from different backgrounds and with different interests. While I think my degree prepared me in some ways for my career, I ultimately think that academic study in general can't prepare you for a career in engineering, and experience working on complex problems in a professional setting is the best way to become a good engineer. Additionally, while the quality of instruction at Stanford was certainly very good, I think you can learn the same engineering fundamentals from many other quality schools that are much cheaper and/or less competitive. Ultimately, you can become just as good at your job with a degree from a "lesser" school if you still get quality work experience in your early career. To phrase it another way, if you have a choice between practicing in an internship or entry level engineering position vs. going back to school or staying in school for longer or transferring to a more prestigious school, I would suggest choosing work over school. That said, I will acknowledge that having a degree from a well-respected university can help a lot in the process of finding a job or moving to a new job. While I don't think that any particular thing I learned from Stanford has had a significant impact on my career, I do believe that having a framed piece of paper with Leland Stanford Junior's name on it certainly helped me get the job I had after graduating.
I was in the M.A. journalism program in 2008-2009. While there was a (depressing) focus on the deteriorating state of the traditional journalism industry and the rise of digital communication, there was not nearly enough practical training. While I knew that digital skills were important, there was not a single class in the program that taught HTML, CSS or any even basic coding skills. Nor were there any classes on Adobe products like InDesign (for layouts) or Fireworks/Illustrator for graphics. Our digital skills class did teach us photo slideshows and video editing, which were good skills; however, that was the breadth of the digital skills and those skills are a lot less applicable to available jobs than the skills I listed that I wish I had learned from the program.
I was probably not a great fit for the program to begin with. However, I do judge a journalism program in 2009 for not preparing me well as it could have for digital communication. I will say that you can gain a lot of those skills from electives--which I did out of my own interest in computer science--but they are not required or even particularly encouraged.
My undergraduate degree in Communications and my graduate degree electives were what provided me with actual skills that would help my career (mostly Computer Science and design skills). However, I cannot discount the value of just having an M.A. from Stanford as far as job prospects go. So while it probably did technically help my career, I would not recommend getting this degree.