Listen up, freshmen. We’re bringing back Betches Love This College, where we give you the no-BS rundown of all the schools you’re thinking of applying to. It’s all the sh*t your guidance counselor will never say.
With its slogans “Fear the tree!” (not particularly scared of topiary, thanks) and “Go card!” (still don’t get how a mascot can be a color tbh), Stanford seems quite deserving of the nickname “Nerd Nation.” Honestly, when I first arrived as a freshman, I don’t think I saw a single cute guy until maybe January. Fine, that’s an exaggeration. All the cute athletes volunteer to move in the freshmen to get early housing.
However, if you look beyond the nerdy trappings, you find a school filled with insanely talented students, inspiring professors, and yep, even a few really hot boys. (This is starting to sound like a YA novel.) And the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture (haters will say it looks like Taco Bell) and the eternal sunshine don’t hurt, either.
Stanford’s appallingly low acceptance rate makes it the most exclusive school in the country. If that doesn’t stroke the ego, tell me what will? In order to get in, you need a perfect GPA and exemplary extracurriculars. Real examples include: making the Olympics, having a million dollar company by 18, or finding the cure for Ebola. If that doesn’t apply, then hopefully your parents are capable of providing a new library.
Yes, a huge chunk of the student population does not see the light of day because they code 24/7. And yes, our administration sucks and is trying to murder fun on campus (more on this later).
But for the remaining 10% of our student body, there manages to be a wide range of entertaining activities (*partying…school…brunch…gym/sport…partying…internship…partying*). Most of the student body practically killed themselves in high school to get here. So now, some people just want to unwind once they arrive.
Does that mean occasionally wrecking university property by ripping doors off refrigerators or throwing television sets off roofs? It appears so. (Some of the student body is also quite stupid, despite their acceptance here suggesting otherwise). But it also means debating politics in our sorority’s lounge till 4am, wholesome dinners at True Foods, and yes, a year of endless drinking (aka sophomore year, when Greek life feels all-encompassing before students remember they’re at Stanford to get a degree, not just to party.) There’s a reason that Stanford is not only nicknamed “Nerd Nation,” but also “Camp Stanford” in the spring.
But first, since this is a highly academic school, let’s discuss every freshmen’s biggest and highly premature worry: WTF to major in.
Computer Science: CS majors whine endlessly about how hard 107/110 is and can be found in office hours/at the LaIR in Tressider waiting for help. Everyone (including me) will eventually take a CS class, even if it’s totally unrelated to their major. Stanford drums into our head that CS is a valuable skill for everyone. Honestly, I can’t even complain because my TA last year was one of the hottest guys I’d ever seen. I actually showed up to his section just so I could stare at him for an hour. If you don’t give up on CS because it’s “too time-consuming” (read: hard), you’ll eventually work at Google or Facebook or Microsoft. ~ Just Stanford things ~
Other engineering majors: IDK exactly what they do. Occasionally I’ll overhear these majors discuss their workload. They never leave Green (the prison-like library on campus) and are the type of people that think college is just “another challenge to get through” aka people who are doing life wrong.
Humbio (aka Human Biology): The professors cater to all these basic b*tches that take the Core by spending two weeks on why 75% of the world is lactose intolerant, affirming the importance of their almond/oat/coconut/soy/rice/hemp/pea milk preference.
Bio (aka Biology…duh): This is for hardos who want four-hour labs and impossible exams instead of inanely absurd Humbio exams that seem right out of an AP bio class.
EarthSys (aka Earth Systems): For vegans, decent people who care about the environment, and people who want to go on free vacations to the Galapagos.
If not pre-med, any of these majors will rave about how “free” they feel now that they’ve escaped (read: given up) on the organic chemistry pre-med grind (RIP Chem 35).
Pre-Meds: Usually one of the aforementioned majors that freak out about the fact that while they’re killing themselves in Chem 35, the techies have time to get sloshed every weekend and will one day make billions while they earn a pittance as a doctor.
Math/Physics: You better be really f*cking smart.
Econ: These students are insecure about the fact that they doing a “weaker” major than CS or even the natural sciences. And they complain about the Core. Endlessly. They’re obsessed with working for Goldman or BGB or McKinsey or whatever finance people do. The literal only people you will ever see wearing a suit on campus.
PoliSci (Political Science): Will disappear for a few quarters to “study abroad” in Europe (aka get legally drunk for a quarter) or Stanford-in-Washington (a fake study abroad program in DC). Will start school wanting to help the world by going into politics. By the end, they’ll be competing with econ majors for finance jobs or applying to law school.
Psych: “I just love listening to people’s problems! Like, did you hear about how Christine got transported to the hospital again last weekend?”
Humanities: “I know it’s not the most practical major but I just want to follow my passions” … will either sell out, be poor, or marry rich.
Freshmen: Ewwww, do we even care? (Kidding…sort of…Stanford aggressively loves frosh.) The newbies are more apt to be social even if they were total f*cking weirdos in high school. They congregate at all-campuses (when the frats are required to throw parties that allow freshmen) and freshmen parties (when 50 kids squeeze into an 8×8 dorm room). They also love talking about “dorm love!!” as though they’re actually going to speak to anyone on their hall a year from now.
Upperclassmen: 90% of these students don’t even go out. The rest are nicknamed the “social 500” but to be honest, it’s probably closer to 200. Most social people are involved with Greek life, but some are on sports teams that can’t rush, or didn’t join but are still a part of the social circle. In addition, some anti-Greek but hard-partying folks do co-ops (super alternative commune style houses) instead. Which also supposedly have crazy parties.
Speaking of Greek life, it seems all-important sophomore year. Really, the only people who care about it are those affiliated. The rest of the school (and most of the professors) think it’s pretty stupid. This is probably because Greek life is perceived as an exclusive group of mostly white, wealthy, privileged students. I’m speaking as someone in a sorority who loves it, but it’s still a disquieting fact of life that ought to change. That being said…
Theta, Kappa, and Pi Phi: The top s’rat picks during Rush (often in that order), and in general, the ones with the best social calendars. Their reps on campus can be inaccurate person by person, but here ya go…
Theta: Gets the New York/boarding school crowd. A few are a little too social-climby (one girl literally once ran around a party screaming everyone has to love me because I’m a Theta!) but some of them are super chill.
Kappa: Gets a lot of the athletes and has a rep for being the rowdiest, but also a little less united because they don’t have a physical house, which kind of sucks. But you’ll find them all drawing together in Mirlo anyways.
Pi Phi: This one is a mix of internationals, some studious goody-two-shoes, and some super social girls. They’ve also been on probation for about a billion years.
Beyond those three, Tri-delt is also a popular choice during rush. It caters to a slightly more alternative community who wants to experience the close bonds of sisterhood without some of the more superficial aspects.
There are some other sororities too, but those are the most popular/competitive if you care about that stuff (and TBH if you’re reading this, you probably do).
KA: The best frat, hands down. It has all the hottest guys. Between the entire water polo and men’s volleyball teams (both of which must recruit guys based not only on skill but also attractiveness from what I’ve seen), you can’t go wrong. They’re obsessed with snappa, and can be found playing it even on a random Monday night when the rest of the campus is studying.
KSig: This is the other top frat. They come off as incredibly douchey, though they do throw some fun mixers and even the occasional decently entertaining all-campus. It’s also the frat that Evan Spiegel was in…remember that whole email scandal?
Sig Chi: This was a really fun house until their Nationals yanked away their charter because the boys “didn’t adhere to the values of Sigma Chi” (aka they didn’t agree with their Nationals’ sexist, racist, and homophobic values). Just your daily dose of some more old white dudes f*cking everyone over with their prejudices.
Snu and TDX are other popular frats. SAE grabs a bunch of football/baseball guys too. But the others are probably my favorite three.
Freshmen live in either ancient dorms (@Wilbur/Stern) or anti-social nicer dorms (@West Campus). So either they’re living in a crumbling dorm with 50 years of old vodka and vomit stains the carpet, or they have no social life. It’s all up to the mercurial whim of Stanford housing.
Sophomores live in random places or their Greek houses, which are also usually low-key dumps. The fact that KSig hasn’t been condemned for stuffing eight guys in one room and, like, literally keeping a pet pig in the house is beyond me. The s’rat houses are slightly nicer but are tucked in a lonely corner of East Campus because Stanford likes to pretend Greek life doesn’t exist.
Juniors live abroad/random places. Seniors tend to live in beautiful houses on the row that are unaffiliated with Greek life. They have a similar structure with a private chef and way better community than traditional dorms.
Things To Do During The Day
Everyone (besides a few actual geniuses that somehow manage to excel at school whilst being blacked 24/7) studies a ton. I recommend working outside at Coupa or Tressider with your friends while people-watching for that hot athlete you hooked up with. Green Library is a windowless hellhole and a great place to go if you need to make yourself feel depressed in order to concentrate.
There’s really nothing to do in Palo Alto besides eat out (see the food section below). If you’re feeling ambitious you could drive into San Francisco for the day, but SF is really just a dirtier and less exciting version of New York so…no?
Besides studying and eating, people really spend their free time partying (it’s all about that healthy work/life balance). During the fall, it’s tailgate SZN (#hard4card) which means wearing red, drinking lukewarm Natty, and pretending to care about football. In the spring, there are a plethora of darties (Dunch, Linner, and Endless KA are the most popular), which means foam, waterslides, and blackouts for all.
Things To Do At Night
Palo Alto, though beautiful and surely a great place to grow up if you’re 10 and your parents work for Google, is a fairly boring and exorbitantly expensive college town. Plus, all Palo Alto bars are extreme hardos about carding.
So, the nightlife centers around frat parties. Stanford has become lame in the past few years by endlessly putting frats and s’rats on probation. But covert mixers will inevitably occur and there is usually at least one frat capable of throwing some fun parties.
Mixers with frats are the most fun since they’ll usually have themes. For example, “heaven and hell” or “mock marriage”. They involve activities at different stations. Like at a Vegas Wedding themed event, one of my friends got ordained on the internet and married me off to some senior. So I might have accidentally gotten married last year… IDK, though. DM me if you’re aware of how binding internet ministers are.
All-campuses, parties where freshmen are invited, are usually pretty boring. The room gets packed with a bunch of lame-o frosh. It’s occasionally fun if the themes are good. Eurotrash, the first big party of the year, is always entertaining. Especially laughing at all the mustaches the boys grow for the theme.
Self-ops (ie: houses on the rows that have private chefs but are not affiliated with Greek life) will also serve themed dinners that are hugely competitive to get into. French house does crepe night (crepes + wine), Casa Italiana does pizzeria (pizza + wine), and now Narnia does Bagelmania (bagels… and probably wine). There’s a super competitive lottery that lasts for five minutes to get a table, and everyone freaks out about it.
Tequila Lounge used to the one off-campus place to go, but that closed last year (RIP) though supposedly it’s re-opening. I want more 12 dollar tequila shots PLZ God!
If none of the above is happening, girls are forced to lie around their s’rats and complain that “Stanford is becoming sooooo lameeeeee!!” I don’t know what everyone was expecting when they applied to a school literally called “Nerd Nation.”
Dining halls are pretty mediocre, though Wilbur brunch is fine (they have an omelet and smoothie station, so it could be worse).
Housed sororities (Pi Phi, Tridelt, and Theta) all have pretty good food since they have private chefs, as do a lot of self-ops on the row like French House or Casa Italiana.
Palo Alto also has some great restaurants (got to feed all the tech billionaires), from Nobu to Sweetgreen.
Weird Stanford Traditions
In case you haven’t caught on yet, Stanford is filled with some strange people. So obviously the school has some strange traditions.
FMOTQ (aka Full Moon on the Quad, aka Full Mono on the Quad): a night where everyone assembles on the quad on a full moon and tries to kiss as many people as possible. Conspiracy theory is that Stanford wants to ensure everyone graduates from college with a first kiss under their belt. A hell of a lot of the students arrive straight from their mother’s wombs.
Guys walk around with bingo charts (hook up with a 2400 SAT score, hook up with an Olympian, etc.) because men are stupid. It’s sort of like a real-life kissing booth minus the paying part so it doesn’t feel like school-sanctioned prostitution. Stanford (in their everlasting goal to make things less fun) tries to discourage people from coming if they have mono. They also hand out Listerine to try to prevent the spread of germs. Since one girl gave 50 guys mono freshman year, guess you can’t really blame them.
Naked parties at Synergy: Synergy is a co-op and one of the most alternative ones. It’s literally nudist (IDK how they get away with this) and they apparently host naked parties. K.
Fountain Hopping: Jumping in the chlorinated (because ew, mildew!!) fountains that are sprinkled across campus is a freshman tradition. I love wearing a bikini in the middle of February when it’s snowing back home. It reminds me why I love California.
Bay to Breakers: Everyone at Stanford wakes up at 4am, takes shots, dresses in rally, and runs a 15k race in San Francisco. And by run, I mean walk a mile before bailing for brunch because the combination of zero hours of sleep (there’s always a concert the night before) and drinking at an inhumane hour means you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck repeatedly.
Stanford Marriage Pact: This was an Econ project that went viral by claiming they used a Noble Prize-winning algorithm to match you to your future partner should you both still be single by 30 (given the lifestyles of many kids at this school, v likely). Probably the most Stanford thing I’ve ever heard of. Resulted in a lot of interesting DMing, and sadly did NOT include a look or height preference section. So à la Sierra Burgess is a Loser, some very strange matches were made.
Before You Graduate, You Should…
When my aforementioned very hot CS TA asked us this in section on the first day of classes, he received a very blank look in return. Before you graduate? Shouldn’t you just, like, be studying and preparing to transition from Palo Alto to Mountain View to work at Facebook/Google?
However, this is my best shot:
- Find these mysterious steam tunnels everyone talks about and explore them (can’t give you more info than that because, ya know, they’re mysterious)
- Climb the roof of MemChu without dying (JK, maybe don’t do that)
- Enroll in (CS) 106A (sorry, I’ve been indoctrinated)
On a serious note, Stanford has been aggressively revamping their alcohol policy in the past few years. Since this was seemingly catalyzed by the Brock Turner incident, which was obviously a tragedy, I genuinely respect their concern. But in my opinion, the new, stricter policy has encouraged more covert drinking. And instead of worrying about the safety of their members, s’rats and frats now worry about losing their charters. So, they are less apt to get people help should it be deemed medically necessary. On the one hand, almost every frat or sorority has been on probation in the past few years. On the other hand, they’re often put on probation for what I think are unfair reasons. For example, one sorority was just placed on probation after five of its members were drugged last winter because it needs to take “collective responsibility” for underage drinking. Sounds a lot like victim-blaming, but ok.
Basically, parties are huge downers now. Frats are terrified to throw anything large because Stanford will take the tiniest mistake and run with it to hell.
*steps off soapbox*
On a slightly less serious note, another drawback is people’s obsession with talking about how “hard but rewarding it is to no longer know that they are always the smartest person in the room.” Everyone, PLEASE get over yourselves. We know everyone here is f*cking smart.
Why Stanford Is The Best School In The World
Besides the insane acceptance rate and despite all the complaining in this article, Stanford is genuinely my favorite place on earth. It’s filled with people who are going to change the world one day. The professors are awe-inspiring and often Noble or Pulitzer Prize winners (keeping it casual). The weather is beautiful basically 24/7. Sorry for getting a little saccharine there, but I really do f*cking love this place.
Images: Duncan Schaffer / Unsplash; Giphy (8)