What is Stanford University Known For?

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What is Stanford known for? Stanford has developed a reputation as one of the country’s great institutions of higher education, consistently ranking in the top 10 national universities.

 

In addition to outstanding academics, Stanford is known for its great return on investment and entrepreneurial student body. Here are some other unique aspects of this top school.

 

Overview of Stanford Admissions

 

Location: Stanford, California 

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle 50% SAT: 1420-1570

Middle 50% ACT: 31-35

 

Stanford is a cross between MIT and Harvard in that it values students with both technical aptitude and strong leadership. The school prioritizes STEM, but values students with diverse academic interests—this is reflected in the admissions process, in which Stanford places a higher weight on the several short essays found in its supplement.  

 

Unique Aspects of Stanford

 

What is Stanford University known for? First and foremost is its academics. Year after year, Stanford ranks among the most difficult colleges to get into, which has cultivated a campus populated with accomplished professors, brilliant students, and an achievement-focused attitude. 

 

Academics

 

Stanford is made of seven schools: 

 

  • School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
  • School of Engineering
  • School of Humanities & Sciences
  • Graduate School of Business
  • Graduate School of Education
  • School of Law
  • School of Medicine

 

Of those seven schools, only three schools have undergraduate programs: School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, School of Engineering, and School of Humanities & Sciences. Despite Stanford’s renown as a feeder for Silicon Valley, the school offers more than 65 majors, covering everything from Aeronautics and Astronautics to Urban Studies.

 

Stanford’s best-known undergraduate school is its School of Engineering, which ranks second on the U.S. News Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. The engineering program has nine academic departments:

 

  • Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Management Science and Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

 

Interdisciplinary study is extremely important at Stanford, and the university has created numerous ways for students in different fields to collaborate. The School of Engineering’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (also known as “the d.school”) brings students and faculty from all fields together to share different perspectives and push the design process. 

 

Similarly, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is a hub for the university’s interdisciplinary environment and sustainability research—bringing students and staff together to solve the environmental challenges of today and tomorrow. Speaking of sustainability, Stanford is planning on being powered by clean and renewable energy by 2022.   

 

Stanford’s Engineering Program doesn’t just push collaboration on campus, it prepares its students for participation in an ever-shrinking world. The university’s Global Engineering Programs (GEPs) provide students with the opportunity to learn about technology and engineering on a global scale, while gaining real-world experience and building professional networks in an international setting. 

 

No matter what discipline you study at Stanford, you’ll encounter an amazing community of scholars, including:

 

  • 19 Nobel Laureates
  • 34 Nobel Prize winners (since the university’s founding) 
  • 4 Pulitzer Prize winners
  • 12 National Medal of Science recipients
  • 31 MacArthur Fellows
  • 4 National Humanities Medal recipients
  • 2 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

 

Extracurriculars

 

Academics might steal the spotlight at Stanford, but the university’s athletics have a storied history and continue to play a significant role in campus life. Stanford has produced more Olympians (2,829) than any other U.S. college, and a Cardinal has won a medal in every Olympics in which the U.S has competed since 1912. 

 

Stanford sports have achieved glory beyond the Olympics as well—Stanford varsity teams have won 152 national championships (including 126 NCAA titles) and, for 44 consecutive years, a Stanford team has claimed a national championship, the longest streak in the nation. Famous Stanford athletes include:

 

  • Tiger Woods 
  • John Elway 
  • Richard Sherman 
  • Kerri Strug 
  • Andrew Luck 
  • Summer Sanders
  • Mike Mussina 
  • Kerri Walsh 
  • Julie Foudy 
  • John McEnroe 

 

There are numerous other opportunities for Stanford students both off the field and out of the classroom. The Ram’s Head Theatrical Society is the university’s oldest and largest theatrical society, dating back to 1911. More than 100 members strong, Ram’s Head provides participants opportunities in acting, directing, designing, and playwriting. The group’s productions are attended by more than 6,000 people annually. 

 

The Stanford Mendicants are another well-known group on campus, particularly for their trademark red blazers. The Mendicants are the university’s original a cappella group, formed in 1963. Members of the Mendicants are frequently seen serenading students everywhere from the stage to the school’s stairwells. 

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Traditions

 

Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) is one of Stanford’s longest-running traditions—it began in the early 1900s when freshmen women would meet during the first full moon of the year and receive their first kiss ever from a male senior. Over the years, the tradition has evolved from sharing a kiss to exchanging white roses to hugs to meeting new people. This experience continues to grow to reflect cultural changes and shifting attitudes. 

 

Stanford’s mascot is also the subject of a unique tradition—the Cardinals, the name of the school’s sports teams, refers to the color, not the bird, and the school has never settled on an official mascot. With no official mascot, the band decided on a tree. Every year, the band’s tree costume is redesigned by the student who wears it. 

 

What is Stanford known for? It’s hard not to mention “the Big Game” when someone asks the question—you can tell an event is important when it takes possession of such a ubiquitous name. The Big Game dates back to 1892 when Stanford first squared off against its rival, UC Berkeley (Cal), in football. The game is held at Stanford on odd-numbered years and at Cal on even-numbered years. The rivalry is intence and seeps into every aspect of campus life between the two schools. 

 

Campus 

 

Stanford has one of the largest campuses in the country—it’s a staggering 8,180 acres and is home to more than 43,000 trees, 800 species of plants, and 25 fountains. A testament to the fantastic weather and the college’s commitment to sustainability, students will find 19,000 bicycle parking spots on Stanford’s campus. Walk through the gates to Stanford’s main campus and take in the view of the university’s 19,000 red-clay-tile roofed buildings and the iconic Memorial Church. 

 

Financial Aid

 

Stanford practices need-blind admissions, which means admissions decisions are made without considering an applicant’s ability to pay. Stanford is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of its students, and nearly half of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid.

 

Students from families earning less than $150,000 (with assets typical of that income level) pay no tuition, while students from families earning less than $65,000 (with assets typical of that income level) pay no tuition, room, or board. Stanford provides financial aid in the form of scholarships, which do not require repayment. 

 

Resources

 

Stanford is one of the top-spending colleges in the country when it comes to research. In 2019-2020, the school sponsored 6,800 external projects with a total budgeted expenditure of $1.63 billion. Two national research centers are also located on Stanford’s campus:

 

  • Departments of Plant Biology and Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution for Science
  • National Bureau of Economic Research

 

In addition, Stanford is home to a handful of specialized research centers, such as: 

 

  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory operated by Stanford that addresses questions in chemistry, materials and energy sciences, bioscience, fusion energy science, high-energy physics, cosmology, advanced accelerator development, and other fields. 
  • Hoover Institution: the world’s preeminent archive and policy research center dedicated to freedom; private enterprise; and effective, limited government.
  • Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve: a 1,193-acre preserve that provides a natural laboratory for ecosystem research and teaching.
  • Hopkins Marine Station: the first marine research facility on the Pacific Coast and the second in the United States. 

 

Location

 

Stanford’s proximity to Silicon Valley (just 40ish miles away on the other side of the bay), home to some of the world’s most renowned tech companies, makes the school a popular destination for students pursuing careers in tech. Numerous Stanford alumni have made names for themselves and amassed impressive futures across the bay, including:

 

  • Co-founders of Google Sergey Brin and Larry Page
  • Co-founders of Yahoo Jerry Yang and David Filo 
  • Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom 
  • Hewlett Packard co-founders William Hewlett and David Packard

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Stanford?

 

In 2020, Stanford received more than 45,000 applications. Highly selective schools like Stanford use a tool called the Academic Index—a distillation of a student’s entire academic profile into a single numerical representation—to cull the applicant pool and weed out candidates who don’t meet the university’s high academic standards. If your academics fail to meet Stanford’s standards, it’s likely an admissions officer will not give your application a serious look. 

 

One way to understand your odds at Stanford (and at hundreds of other colleges across the U.S.) is with CollegeVine’s free chancing engine. Our chancing engine uses quantitative metrics such as GPA and test scores, along with more qualitative aspects like extracurricular activities, to predict your odds of admission. In addition, our chancing calculator provides valuable insight into your college profile and offers tips on how to improve it.

 

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Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.

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