Whenever we watch an American movie focused on teenagers, we notice that many of them want to go to the same universities, being Stanford one of the most named ones. Is this a cliché or is there really something that makes Stanford such a desirable university?
I was curious about it so I decided to dig a little to see who has attended to Stanford and how did it go, a little bit of their history, what they have to offer that other universities don’t, and more.
So if you are interested in attending Stanford, or maybe you just want to expand your knowledge with interesting facts, I invite you to keep reading, I found the fascinating information you will love.
Going Back to 1885
This is the story of a university that refused to be taken down; it was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, Leland was a US Senator and former Governor of California. He had made a fortune as railroad tycoon and together, they built Stanford to honor Leland Stanford Jr, who died of typhoid fever in 1884.
Even though the university was founded in 1885, it opened its gates in 1891. Its values have always been the same “to promote the public welfare by exercising and influence in behalf of humanity and civilization”.
The campus is in California and suffered significant damage after the earthquakes of 1906 and 1989, it was rebuilt successfully each time.
Actually, Stanford has endured many economic difficulties and social tragedies, they never stopped being the top of the academic field in the country.
Stanford is organized around 3 traditional schools with 40 academic departments, and its undergraduate program is one of the most selective in the United States.
Its motto is “The wind of freedom blows” and it goes quite handy if we consider that Stanford is focused on private research and it has always been presented as the place where you learn, discover, and innovate.
In fact, Stanford’s spirit is so close to innovation that after World War II, Frederick Terman, a well-known engineering professor supported both faculty and graduates to develop new ideas and to commercialize them; resulting in what we know today as Silicon Valley.
Why Do People Want To Go To Stanford?
Besides carrying almost 200 years of history and academic achievements, Stanford is the dreamed university by thousands of people in the world.
The reason? Well, there isn’t just one reason. Let’s start with the fact that studying in such university is quite expensive, however, Stanford in 2012 awarded $126 million in need-based financial aid to almost 3.500 students.
In 2015, they covered tuition, board, and room for most families with incomes below $65.000.
That means they understand very well how important it is financial aid for the most talented minds of the country, and they are not scared to offer them a hand.
Since they are dedicated to research, Stanford has a collection of more than 9.3 million volumes, including a bit more than 300.000 rare books and millions of other digital resources.
They count with 18 independent laboratories, institutes and research centers, including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Stanford Research Institute, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.
As you see, physics, politics, and arts are only a few of the disciplines Stanford is interested in. Another treasure Stanford has to offer is the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, still has original Luther King papers, speeches, and more.
And one of the newest investments is the BioHub, a medical science research center founded in 2016. It’s a collaborative effort between Berkeley, UC San Francisco, Stanford and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Besides all of this, people want to go to Stanford because besides having an academic life, students actually get to have fun! They enjoy being young and engage in several sportive activities that make their living in The Farm something worth to remember.
As you will see in the following paragraphs, many athletes attended Stanford because they value sports and have excellent teams whose members end up in bigger teams all over the world.
Stanford also has one of the most beautiful university campuses in the US and one of the biggest ones! 8.000 acre and a great weather.
They also count with top teachers, Nobel Prize winners, successful entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, and researchers in hundreds of fields right at your disposition. Since the campus is also very close to Silicon Valley, they invite many businessmen and new entrepreneurs.
Following this topic, Stanford is a highly competitive university that often encourages students to entrepreneurship. You don’t just sit there and read theories about business models, you make them.
They have a strong alumni network that never forgets about their alma mater, so from the most recent to the oldest graduates always come back searching for new talents and ideas.
Such a huge university with all those years of history has to carry around some traditions; if you talk to any Stanford student they can tell you hundreds of them, but some of the most known traditions are:
- The Viennese ball, a formal ball that started in 1970. Originally only the students that were returning from the Stanford campus in Vienna (now closed) could attend, but it is now open to all students.
- The Mausoleum Party: A Halloween celebration at the Stanford Mausoleum, the resting place of the Stanford family.
- The Stanford Hymn is sung in many types of ceremonies, from sports to graduations and more. It is called “Hail, Stanford, Hail” and it was written in 1892, but it wasn’t adopted officially until 1902.
- The Uncommon Man or Woman degree consists of a degree given to extraordinary or rare people that attended Stanford. It is awarded by the Stanford Associates and it’s not something given annually, only when the group considers it necessary. One of the recipients of this award was Bill Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett Packard Company (HP)and Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States.
- The Fountain Hopping, the night where students take a dip in the campus fountains, it’s quite a fun tradition because they all run together and jump to the water during Summer.
- Primal Scream happens during the dead week of each quarter, at midnight. The students simply scream their lungs out to release some stress over finals, they do it on the hallways and from their dorms.
Stanford Notable Alumni
Such a majestic academy can’t avoid having excellent students that happened to be amazing people.
Besides everything I have already told you about Stanford, I would love to mention some of their notable ex-students, that way you may understand how big Stanford is for the country, and even the world.
- Tiger Woods, the professional golf player had won a scholarship in 1994 for a major in economics but never finished the career because he focused on golf.
- Elon Musk, the famous entrepreneur that brought us PayPal, Tesla Neuralink, and SpaceX made it into Stanford to get a Ph.D. in energy physics, but this happened in 1992 when the internet was becoming a big thing for civilians, so he dropped out the university to pursue his company Zip2.
- Reese Witherspoon, we all remember her from Legally Blonde, the stunning actress also made it to Stanford to get an English literature major, but, as the other people we have mentioned, she had to drop her studies to pursue an acting career.
- John F. Kennedy, yes, the 35th President of the United States also attended to Stanford. He had previously got a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard and in Stanford graduated from their Business School.
- Sally Ride, the first American woman in space! She got a degree in English and physics. Then earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics in 1978 while she was researching Astrophysics.
- Doug Baldwin, member of the Seattle Seahawks football team played for Stanford as a wide receiver and kick returner from 2007 to 2010.
- Paul Winfield, an American actor who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in the miniseries King.
- John McEnroe¸ a retired American tennis player considered among the best in the sport. John played for the university team and won many titles, leading him to the ATP tour a few years after.
- Sam Harris, a philosopher, and neuroscientist described as one of the four horsemen of atheism (along with Richard Dawkins). Studied philosophy in the year 2000 and began to write his book The End of Faith right after the 9/11 attacks.
- Ted Danson, another American actor. We remember him from CSI, The Good Place, Fargo, and Bored to Death.
- Marsha Berger, a computer scientist who had a key role in the research of the numerical analysis in computational fluid dynamics. She got her B.S in math in New York and her Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford.
- Howard Baker, American poet and dramatist, he graduated from English from Stanford and then taught English at Harvard, after publishing novels like Ode to the Sea and letter from the Country.
- Reed Hastings, the one responsible for your Sunday afternoons with Netflix. He got a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google co-founders. Larry got a Master of Science in computer science while Sergey got a Ph.D. in computer science.
- Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts attended Stanford for a year in 1960 but quit to it to do some missionary work.
- Ted Koppel and English-American broadcast journalist earned an M.A degree with studies in mass communication research and political science.
- Sigourney Weaver, the American actress we all loved in The Great Gatsby graduated with a degree in English too.
I don’t know about you, but just the thought of going to the university where Google first saw the light feels beyond amazing.
Besides an extraordinary academic experience, according to Payscale, the average Stanford graduate will make $102k, and their top employers are, of course, Google Inc., Apple Computer, Intel and Stanford itself.
My personal recommendation is: if you are interested in entrepreneurship, technology, engineering, and science, then you have to choose Stanford.
There is a strong culture of entrepreneurship among students and graduates, there are always big ideas walking around the hallways, waiting just for the right moment to burst.
There is a strong connection with Silicon Valley and they are more than willing to help students build their own companies from scratch.
And it will definitely be cheaper than other universities, depending of course of your income level and your academic background.