Stanford students are also getting a global education. Stanford offers its own overseas programs in Australia, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Florence, Istanbul, Kyoto, Madrid, Oxford, Paris and Santiago. And even though the school is surrounded by Silicon Valley, that doesn’t alter the stellar arts and humanities programs. One senior boasted, “At Stanford, anything is possible; I’ve lived on a schooner with faculty studying sharks, snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, hiked in the Australian rainforest, studied Antarctic phytoplankton with world-class scientists, and spent countless nights discussing philosophy, politics, film, and art until sunrise.” Some Integrated Learning Environments combine learning and living in the residences. Through programs like ITALIC (Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture), students have more opportunities to spend time experiencing other cultures. The strong commitment to the arts is “a means of developing, honing and applying creativity.”
Stanford’s huge research program ensures someone on campus is always making something new. With a sponsored research budget of over $1.33 billion, Stanford knows that great research comes from great resources. DoResearch is Stanford’s online platform that helps students get organized and get started on whatever projects they can dream up. UAR (Undergraduate Advising and Research) connects students with faculty members studying or undertaking similar research or creative projects and provides $5.6 million to fund 986 student projects. With Stanford’s faculty, students work to solve the world’s toughest social problems.
Since Stanford pushes students to think for themselves from the first moment they step on campus, and provides them with opportunities to develop their own ideas and research, it’s no surprise that students continue on this path after graduating. An administrator told us that the goal of a Stanford education is “to study a subject [the students] love, not one they think will assure them of a job right out of college, and we help them develop the critical thinking skills they will need over their lifetimes.” Once a student gets started at Stanford, the university takes care of them. The “goal of a Stanford liberal education is the honing of a set of core abilities, including analysis of information and argumentation, the synthesis of information from multiple sources, and precise, persuasive communication, both oral and written.”
Many students realize that a college education is more than sprucing up a dorm room and going to class. Alumnus Christian Angulo said his “real education came from the daily interactions, conversations, and diverse experiences that gave me the foundation necessary to go out into the real world.” Angulo now works for the university in undergraduate admission, helping to determine the quality of future Stanford classes. He originally picked Stanford because of what most students love about the university—he could choose any major and could live and study in beautiful California, halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. Plus Stanford’s campus and amenities offer tremendous chances for collaboration. To describe his Stanford peers, he said that what drives them and defines them the most is entrepreneurship. Stanford students are “go-getters,” he said, “known for putting their all into what they do and creating their own opportunities to achieve their goals.” Students develop this sense of entrepreneurship and business-savvy from groups like Stanford Student Enterprises. SSE boasts businesses “for students and run by students.” SSE’s four enterprises now include over 100 employees. Small student businesses? Maybe. But their total assets now exceed $15 million. Budding entrepreneurs “take advantage of programs, lectures, courses and mentorships,” an administrator told us. The Stanford School of Engineering hosts the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and students also work with an education nonprofit, StartX. Work like this “accelerates the development of Stanford’s top entrepreneurs through experiential education.”
Students don’t nurture this sense of ambition and drive on their own. Stanford’s professors and scholars are talented in their own right. Stanford has found over 2,118 full-time and part-time faculty, engaged and dedicated to developing their students into future leaders. Most professors hold a terminal degree in their specialty. The highly regarded university also boasts a growing cross-section of minority and female professors, further expanding the outlook of research and academia. The enviable 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio means that nearly 70 percent of classes have fewer than twenty students. Every student has a voice.
In 2012, Stanford conducted a study with faculty and student recommendations on how to make updates to the curriculum. The faculty “extensively reexamined the university’s approach through The Study of Undergraduate Education.” At the end, faculty contributed fifty-five recommendations on how to update their required courses to “help students gain knowledge, but also develop the capacities for continued intellectual growth.” Professors know that simply adding more courses doesn’t necessarily increase the standard of a students’ education. Who better to know about the commitment of these professors than their students? As a human biology major told us, “The professors are some of the most engaging I have ever seen . . . [they are] all superstars.” A product design engineer said, “The professors at Stanford draw you into the material because they are so excited to share their passion for the subject with you, and because they’re so eager to inspire us.”
Stanford alums are making a splash in virtually every field you can think of from art to athletics. Graduates can count among their ranks such prominent alumni as the first American woman in space, the late Sally Ride; Mozilla Firefox developer Blake Ross; and novelists John Steinbeck and Michael Cunningham. Stanford has graduated one U.S. President, four Supreme Court Justices, four current U.S. Senators, a National Security Advisor, two U.S. Secretaries, and the current U.S. ambassadors to China and South Korea. They’ve been instrumental parts of businesses like Hewlett-Packard, StubHub, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and PayPal and are the inventors of the microprocessor, the laser, and GPS.
Thankfully, networking with this prestigious group of 217,000-plus grads starts early. Along with standard services like job fairs and recruiting events, résumé critiques, and one-on-one counseling, Stanford’s Career Development Center hosts CareerConnect, a job board that lists hundreds of alumni-posted jobs and internships. The Center also offers “career communities” in specific fields, including a special community devoted solely to the needs of underclassmen still a few years away from their post-grad job hunt. Most current students agree that Stanford “provides a great opportunity to pursue greater careers with a wide array of resources and support.” A 2015 grad in bioengineering sums it up: “Stanford’s given me the opportunity to go abroad three times as an engineer, to minor in modern languages, to explore classics and religious studies, while simultaneously excelling at the cutting edge of the world’s finest bioengineering technology. . . with a relaxed and supportive social atmosphere. That’s something that makes me feel incredibly lucky on a daily basis.”