Stanford University is the most selective private college in the US as of the conclusion of this year’s admissions cycle. Less than five percent of the students who applied to Stanford were invited to become part of its Class of 2020. I had the privilege of visiting Stanford last year. I am reposting this piece to let incoming students feel good about their acceptance, and possibly feel good about why they turned down Harvard. I also wanted to help future applicants to compare both schools–Ed.
Stanford University was my “dream school” growing up in Central New Jersey. It had everything that I would never find at a college close to home: year-round sunshine, major college football and a gorgeous campus, not to mention fine academics.
I awaited my visit to Stanford with more eagerness than past visits to other schools, with the exception of an opportunity that I had to tour the car design studios at Art Center College of Design several years ago.
I made a Pinterest page, but I decided to take a different tack at reporting on my visit. It’s really silly to make a Report Card for Stanford. This school goes to extremes to be affordable and accommodate career and academic interests that few others can.
The academic programs, the campus, athletic successes and alumni of Stanford University have already been well documented by others. Students who are fortunate to gain admission can be confident that the school will meet their full financial need. Those who come from families that earn less than $125,000 will pay no tuition. Those who come from families that earn less than $60,000 will pay nothing for direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board).
Stanford expects all students to contribute at least $5,000 towards their education through part-time employment during the school year as well as savings from a summer job. Needless to say those students who get further in their education, especially in computer science (the most popular major) or engineering, will earn far more.
Is Stanford University the “Harvard of the West”? Perhaps.
Leland Stanford, founder of the University went to Charles Eliot, then president of Harvard, for advice on how to honor his late son, Leland Jr.,who had died of typhus at the age of 15. Eliot suggested that the railroad magnate (or “Robber Baron,” if you prefer), then a U.S Senator, establish a university. Stanford did precisely that, on more than 8,000 acres of land in Palo Alto. Two of the original conditions of the charter: the university could never leave the campus grounds, and it had to charge no tuition (which it did until 1920).
Harvard, of course, has a lot more history. It predated Stanford by 255 years. It has the larger endowment ($36 billion vs. $21 billion in FY 2014). It is also the larger undergraduate school (8,300 vs. 7,000). If you’ve taken a business course that used cases your professor was more likely to find them through Harvard.
These schools have similarities:
And there are differences that go beyond geography and the physical appearances of the campuses.
Of course the comparison means little if you get into only one of the schools, or if you miss on both of them. Those who get into only one will most likely go to that school. And if you have the chance to tour Stanford, take it. Save time to take the separate tour of the Engineering Quad, even if you have never been or never will become an engineer. The scientific heart of “Nerd Nation” will literally blow your mind!
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