Stanford University

Sloan Frierson

English IV

Stanford University, located in Stanford, California, home to the Cardinals (Wikipedia, 2010), is a member of the West Coast Ivy League, and has become one of our nation’s top universities. Stanford is a premier research institution with a rich history that offers a well-rounded education where students can obtain their undergraduate degrees..

Leland and Jane Stanford founded Stanford in 1891 in memory of their only son, who died of typhoid in 1884. They hired Frederick Law Olmstead, New York City’s famous Central Park architect, to design the campus. The first year it was open, Stanford amassed a class of 555 students (History of Stanford, 2010). When Leland Stanford passed away in 1893 (Stanford University and the 1906 Earthquake, 2010), the university’s financial stability died with him. Able to access only a portion of her husband’s estate, Jane managed Stanford as best she could for a period of almost six years (History of Stanford, 2010).

Shortly after Jane’s death in 1905, disaster struck the campus. The earthquake of 1906 wrecked multiple buildings and resulted in the first two deaths seen on campus (Timeline, 2010). Although the president of the university closed Stanford in April of 1906, the day after the earthquake, (Timeline, 2010), some students remained in the area and helped rebuild campus buildings and homes of locals (History of Stanford, 2010). The school reopened in August and the “Calamity Class,” who persisted through the earthquake and its aftermath, finally graduated in September (Timeline, 2010).

Stanford students are typically progressive-minded and not afraid to stand up for their beliefs. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on campus in 1964 (Timeline, 2010) and Stanford became the home of the esteemed Civil Rights Movement leader‘s papers in 1985 (History of Stanford, 2010). The year 1965 saw the formation of the first student organization for the rights of gays and lesbians. Stanford changed their mascot from the “Indians” to the “Cardinals” and worked to make the number of Native American applicants to Stanford higher. Faculty and students participated in the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam protests throughout the sixties and seventies (History of Stanford, 2010). Stanford lifted all gender requirements for enrollment in 1973 (Timeline, 2010).

Today, Stanford has become one of the country’s most elite coed universities. Their private status enables them to have a selective 8% admission rate. However, they have an exceptionally high returning rate for sophomores: 98%. They offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. The variety of campus facilities includes 17 libraries, a nature preserve, a Rodin sculpture garden, and a medical center (College Board, 2010).

Tuition at Stanford costs $38,700 a year for out-of-state students living on campus. The financial aid program offers needs-based aid for students. The average financial aid package awarded is $40,204 (College Board, 2010). The majority of their undergraduate awards are scholarships or grants (91%) and the final 9% consist of loans or work/study jobs (College Board, 2010). The breakdown of freshmen who apply for need-based financial aid and those who got it in 2010 goes like this: 1,051 applied for need-based financial aid but only 859 received aid offers. Of those 859, however, 829 had all their needs met (College Board, 2010).

Stanford guarantees housing to all undergraduates. All freshmen must live on-campus, but a surprising 91% of all undergraduates live on-campus. Undergrads have many options when choosing college housing, such as coed or women’s dorms, apartments for single or married students, fraternity or sorority houses, co-op housing, or special needs dorms (College Board, 2010). The incoming freshmen typically have no idea who their roommates will be until they arrive on move-in day. Stanford assigns roommates this way to preserve the fun and exciting feeling, similar to meeting bunkmates at summer camp. Freshmen are placed in buildings electronically. Roommates are then paired up by the housing coordinators based on cleaning and sleeping habits, a few similarities, and a few differences to keep them learning about one another. The housing coordinators also take personality into account when assigning rooms to newly paired roommates, taking advantage of socialites by putting them in places where they have to walk longer to get to the bathroom or laundry room (Julian, 2010).

Campus life at Stanford is rife with school traditions. The week of the "Big Game" versus Berkeley is full of festivities and spirit events. The faculty serve the students a Midnight Breakfast in the winter semester. The annual Mausoleum Party around Halloween is held in the Stanford Mausoleum, where Leland Stanford's body lies. Other notable traditions include the Stanford Charity Fashion Show, Senior Pub Night (in which charter buses take seniors to various pubs around town and return them to campus in one piece), Uncommon Man or Woman Degrees, and performances by various campus a capella groups (Wikipedia,2010).

Students have started many of their own fun traditions as well. Steam-tunneling and fountain-hopping involve exploring the steam tunnels beneath the campus and playing in the various fountains on campus. The "Primal Scream" is emitted from anxious students on the midnights prior to finals. Every full moon senior boys meet freshman girls on the quad for a romantic kiss at midnight. Whenever a student has their birthday, their friends give them a "Birthday Shower" at midnight whether they are asleep or awake. In the midst of winter students receive their Secret Snowflakes, three dares given to them by random kids from their dorms that must be performed in front of the whole dorm over the course of three nights. In the spring house leaders organize the Game, a huge scavenger hunt for all students living on campus. The Valentine's Day Serenade involves each boy in the dorm giving one girl a rose on Valentine's Day and then singing as a group for all the girls in their dorm. The campus-wide game of Assassin, in which students must secretly "kill" one another with water guns until only one Assassin is left, can go on for weeks (Wikipedia, 2010).

Stanford also has a prestigious drama department that manages six theatre spaces. The largest is Memorial Auditorium, which features a proscenium stage, seats 1705 people, and is home to the drama department offices, the scene shop, the light lab, and the costume shop. They also manage two fully equipped blackbox theaters that can seat 60-90 people, a smaller proscenium theatre that seats 194, an adjustable proscenium stage with a turntable that seats 135, and a building of dance and acting studios and rehearsal spaces (Stanford Drama, 2010).

The drama department works with many student theatre groups on-campus. Asian-American and African American students both have organizations promoting the showcasing of their talents and plays about their experiences. The Stanford Shakespeare Society gives free performances of the Bard’s works to Stanford and the surrounding area twice a year. Similarly, the Stanford Savoyards perform musicals by Gilbert and Sullivan and the like two times a year. The Stanford Improvisors, known as the Simps, are the only improv group on campus. They host improv nights and teach improv classes. The Ram’s Head Theatrical Society is the biggest student theatre group and has been around for seventy-five years. They give three different performances each year, all produced and run entirely by students (Stanford Drama, 2010)

The mainstage productions over the past couple of years include Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain, Tesseract, Hurry Up, it’s Time!, Rent, and Wasted. Their lineup for this school year is as follows: No Child…, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Moment I Saw You I Knew I Could Love You, The Diaspora Project, and Major Barbara (Stanford Drama, 2010).

To apply to the Department of Drama a prospective student must first gain acceptance into Stanford University itself. Applicants must send in their SAT/ACT scores, high school transcripts, the Common Application’s First-Year application with the Stanford Supplement, the required teacher evaluation forms, and the $90 application fee by January 1, 2010 (Undergraduate, 2010).

The applicant can then submit a resume of their past theatrical experiences and a headshot to the Department of Drama. In addition to a resume and headshot, they must perform a live audition by November 20, or mail in an audition tape. For the audition the student must choose two monologues that are age-appropriate and highlight their skills as an actor/actress. It is recommended that one monologue be classical, such as Shakespeare or Aeschylus, and one monologue be modern. It is also helpful for the monologues to contrast one another, for example, a piece from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and another from A Streetcar Named Desire, to show a range in the auditioner’s abilities. They will find out whether they have been accepted or not by April 1, 2010, and have until May 1, 2010 to notify Stanford of their decision (Undergraduate, 2010). Once accepted into the program, they can choose to receive their Minor, Bachelor’s Degree, or Ph. D. in Drama. Theatre teaching degrees are also available to undergraduate students (Stanford Drama, 2010).

Stanford University’s colorful history has brought the students together in such a way that so few schools can (History of Stanford, 2010). The campus, in suburban Stanford, California, is laid out and landscaped thoughtfully (College Board, 2010). The university provides numerous counseling, health, and educational services to all students (College Board, 2010). The needs-based financial aid program is generous and fair in its awards (College Board, 2010). The Drama Department is well-developed, puts out strong actors and actresses, and is fully equipped with all the technical conventions stage crew expect a theater to have (Stanford Drama, 2010). Stanford would a be a great place for any high school senior to pursue their post-secondary education.


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Stanford University Undergraduate Admission. Freshman Requirements and Process. (2010). Retrieved December 9, 2010 from

Julian, Sam. Stanford University News. Stanford’s freshman roommate matching secrets revealed. (2010). Retrieved December 2, 2010, from

Stanford University and the 1906 Earthquake. (2010). Timeline of Events. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from

Wikipedia. Stanford University. (2010). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from