Hello, freshmen! It is very possible that this modern campus frightens and confuses you, and for the most part, you’re going to have to figure those issues out on your own. Sorry, but I’ve got my own problems.
But there is one question I can answer for you: how did that guy get admitted?
In some cases it is obvious: basketball recruits, straight-up geniuses and so on. But in some cases you may encounter a fellow student who seems as if he couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag and can’t dunk. How did these kids get here? In fact, how did you get here? Are you even supposed to be reading this?
Let’s see. Anyone whose admission is a mystery will generally fall into one of these eight categories.
This guy may try to under-emphasize his ties to the University, but considering his grandfather was the bastard child of Herbert Hoover and Jane Stanford, he was going to get in.
The Richie Richington
If someone in your dorm has the same last name as that dorm, it is rarely a coincidence. So if you meet a Carey Arrillaga, Mabel Maples or Donald Theclaw, that campus landmark is probably named after him or her.
The Athlete In an Obscure Sport
Though many sports do not offer scholarships, it’s not uncommon for some kid to have spent their childhood honing their talents in fencing so that they could someday win the privilege of eating at Wilbur—or, colloquially, Wilbo. (This will catch on.) While it may be tempting to ask the Obscure Athlete about his sport, just remember that you have made it this far through life without ever deciding to learn about synchronized swimming, and there is probably a good reason for that.
The Kid Who Crushed the SAT
Stereotypically, this kid is supposed to be a moody, withdrawn genius with poor social skills, but she is just as likely to be a bubbly blonde girl. It’s very confusing for those of us who would rather our stereotypes remain unchallenged.
The Person From a Weird Place
Wondering who that yokel is dancing to “Cotton Eyed Joe” while wearing suspenders and chewing a piece of hay? That’s the Class of 2014’s West Virginia delegation—to be fair, I just told you I love stereotypes. Stanford admission officers live for the fact they can say students came from all 50 states. Literally nothing—nothing—means more to them. If that leads to ill-advisedly admitting a few Bristol Palins and Hannahs from Montana, so be it.
The Person Who Already Accomplished Something
These come in two types, usually. First, the internationals. Perhaps she was a star in Canadian soap operas, or a professional Turkish cricket player. Now, having exhausted the possibilities in their native land, it’s time to prove that the skills that led to winning “Ukraine’s Got Talent” or whatever can transfer to success in America.
Second, the olds. They have done something so worthwhile with their lives that you will never, ever be interesting to them. They tend to say stuff like, “So there I was, a single mother, and all of a sudden I had the number one song in the country” and “I’ll never forget the time I accidentally wandered into the DMZ. Who would have thought I’d be making love on a jet home with Bill Clinton two weeks later?” They will one-up you no matter what. Don’t even try to compete.
The Progeny of a Famous Person
Generally, this is the type of famous person who you are more impressed with than legitimately interested in. If meeting the daughter of the secretary of agriculture or son of the president of Latvia sounds appealing, then you’re in luck. If you want to meet one of Madonna or Angelina Jolie’s Malawian adoptees, try elsewhere.
The Kid with Pointless Musical Talent
For reasons that remain unclear, an alarming number of students here have a musical talent. Rumor has it that when previous Director of Admission Shawn Abbott left, all the musically inclined but otherwise unexceptional students gathered in Maples and surprised him by playing his symphony as he wept upon realizing he had an impact on their lives after all. Or maybe that was the end of “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” It’s hard to say.
Though these few explanations may not cover every admission mystery (but it should—double check the first two if you still are confused), you will meet every single one of these people during your time at Stanford. And if you want to find the money and knowledge to produce a musical that revolves around polo players in Idaho, everything you need is right here.
Want to tell Jordan how you got admitted? E-mail him at email@example.com.