What is Stanford like?

Because Stanford is on a Quarter system, the university is extremely fast-paced, and everyone is always doing something, whether it is extracurriculars, classes, or jobs. Stanford students are notorious for having Duck Syndrome because they seem very relaxed on the surface while working extremely hard behind closed doors.

What is most misunderstood about Stanford?

Stanford is known to be a party school, but it really isn’t. The classes here are not overly difficult, but neither are they easy. The honors sequences are extremely hard, while there are definitely easy courses to take. Stanford gives its students a relatively large amount of freedom, so the Stanford experience will vary from person to person.

What kind of students do you think colleges are looking for?

Colleges are looking for students who are passionate about what they do and have the stamina to carry it through. Especially at Stanford, diversity is highly valued, so they are definitely looking for students who can bring new perspectives to campus. In general, the people in my college are smart, hardworking, interesting to talk to, and fun to be around. There are definitely a lot of amazing people who have accomplished extraordinary things before coming to campus, but most of us are just ordinary students who are motivated and have a thirst for learning. Coming from Monta Vista, the biggest difference between the attitude of students in college and high school is that people in college are not obsessed about finding a formula for success. I think everyone realizes that there is no formula, and people are willing to follow their hearts. Therefore, I think colleges are looking for students who are willing to take the risk of following their dreams.

What has been one of the greatest challenges in college, and what do you think high school students can do to best prepare themselves?

The biggest challenge is to realize that you cannot be the best at everything. There are infinite resources on campus, and no one will be able to take advantage of it all. Rather than stressing about how to get ahead, the important thing is to follow your dreams and explore your passions. Once again, there is no right answer, and students should not focus on building a resume that will get them their dream jobs. The resume is the bonus. What is important is that you learn. In terms of preparation, take as many challenging courses as possible. It will serve you well, both in terms of thinking more critically and learning to manage your time. Learning to study (and take tests) is an art in itself, and you really need to learn the art before coming to college. Also, learn to take care of yourself. In college, it is easy to not sleep, eat, or exercise. Build a routine that will keep you healthy. Above all, don’t forget to have fun!

How did you spend your time in high school?

Academic: scientific research, writing, speech and debate, biology club, math and science club.
Non-academic: piano, choir, Red Cross Club.

If you were to start high school all over again, what would you do differently?

I would be more involved in my extracurricular activities at school. I was super involved in activities outside of school, but I did not devote as much time to the activities in school. Because of that, I never really developed an attachment to my high school, and it’s something that I deeply regret. It is important to develop long-lasting relationships with peers and teachers in school because those are the people you interact with the most. I feel like I missed many opportunities to really get to know the amazing people in my high school.

What advice would you give prospective college students to help them prepare for college?

Take challenging courses, be aggressive in class, and don’t be afraid to fail. All in all, take risks! The people who succeed are the people who are not afraid to fail.

Do you recommend any websites and resources that will help students get to know Stanford?

Stanford Daily website:


High School

Monta Vista High School


Stanford University