During Admit Weekend 2015, we asked six ProFros the question, “If you could ask a Stanford student any question, what would you ask?” Here, we’ve assembled a diverse group of Stanford students, a panel of current and experienced Trees, to answer these questions in their own words.
Meet Our Panelists
Scott Reid: Scott is from northern Virginia. He is a sophomore studying physics and thinking about a minor in creative writing. He plays the French horn in a variety of student orchestras, rock climbs recreationally and interns in an astrophysics lab.
Emily Kohn: Emily is a senior majoring in economics and minoring in English. She is a Hume Writing Center tutor. She is currently working on her honors thesis and is involved with student theater.
Kidi Basile: Kidi is a freshman from Cameroon. He is planning to major in electrical engineering with a minor in international development. He is also involved in FCLT and Stanford Quidditch. He loves dancing and music and is passionate about social development.
Ellen Tsay: Ellen is a senior and co-captain of the varsity women’s tennis team, and she is majoring in biology, coterming in biomedical informatics and planning on going to medical school. She is a volunteer scribe, tutored a summer computer science camp and helped develop an online health education curriculum. In her spare time she enjoys running, practicing yoga and reading Tolstoy.
Evan Lin: Evan is a sophomore double majoring in computer science and music (piano performance). He is involved in the music scene at Stanford as a member of two chamber music groups. In addition, he paddles on the Stanford Dragonboat team.
Real Questions and Answers
What is one item that students wouldn’t think of bringing but should definitely bring to their dorm rooms? —Fiona Maguire, Los Angeles
SR: I’m always glad that I have a few Tupperware [containers] and basic silverware. It makes it much easier to make guacamole with friends or spread cookie butter on cookies while studying for midterms.
EK: Oatmeal, tea — [there’s so many] things you make with hot water. A tea kettle is a total godsend and you’re allowed to bring them.
ET: A hand towel. By bringing your own towel to the bathroom, you not only save tons of paper but [also] avoid that icky wet-paper-towel smell when you wipe off your face.
EL: Two of the items I find myself using the most are my stapler and my whiteboard. The need for a stapler is self-explanatory. As for the whiteboard, you’ll probably find writing in dry-erase a lot easier than looking for a clean sheet of paper every time.
How easy is it to get involved in clubs on campus? —Kai Klocke, Portland, Oregon
SR: It is much too easy to become involved in clubs. Particularly during fall of freshman year, you’ll be hearing left and right about things you can become involved in. The most difficult thing is definitely parsing through all of the options to find the activities that speak to you the most.
KB: I feel like it’s not easy, because clubs are not very well advertised. You need to be proactive to be really involved. They don’t come to you.
EL: It’s really easy! Just keep an eye out for the activities fair at the beginning of the year, hit up every booth that interests you and sign up for all the mailing lists!
What do I do if I don’t know what I want to do in the future? —Dylan Treger, Paradise Valley, Arizona
KB: Maybe take one year off to work for a community group or a nonprofit, or work in a field that you love so you can find your passion. I know a couple of people who did that, and it helped them to really know what they want to do in the future.
ET: Start by eliminating what you don’t like. Then, if you still can’t decide, just pick a direction and go from there. You have to start somewhere. Also keep in mind that career decisions don’t have to be forever — you can always change your mind and switch careers later on. No experience is wasted; there is always something you can learn from an abandoned career or path and apply to a different career or path later on.
EL: It’s okay! You’ll eventually realize that no one really knows what they want to do (unless they’re premed).
What are courses that you can take that would let you explore and let you fit in your WAYS/GER requirements? —Thomas Nguyen, Houston
SR: I’ll take this moment to advertise a really amazing class that I took freshman spring called Human Behavioral Biology. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but the professor, Robert Sapolsky, is amazing, and the class has changed how I view the world on a fundamental level. A biology class where you get to learn about chaos theory, a Nazi who became the mother to many ducklings and the roots of human and animal behavior? Why not?
EK: If you’re interested in the humanities, take SLE. CS106A — that’s really cliche, but it’s a really good class, especially with Keith Schwarz. Introsems are also a good way to explore subjects.
ET: Look for courses that double-count towards two requirements. More importantly, never choose courses that look easy; always choose courses that you are genuinely interested in. Easy courses always end up being hard, because it will be more difficult for you to engage with the material.
Do you have suggestions on how to combine both a humanities perspective and a technological perspective? —Manasi Patwa, San Jose
EK: Stanford definitely wants you to do that, and I can’t speak specifically to any program, but a lot of majors let you [combine the two perspectives], such as Science, Technology and Society (STS) and Symbolic Systems.
KB: I think if someone is interested in technology, [he or she] should consider minoring or double majoring in the humanities. When you are just focused on tech things, you don’t have a broad perspective of the world. Taking humanities classes lets you learn more about how the world functions and what people are thinking.
ET: Become an expert in one of the two fields while keeping up with the other, and it will carry over in invaluable ways. For example, continue exercising your writing skills while delving into biology research or engineering projects. Later on, you’ll have amazing experiences from these activities that will give you a unique perspective to write from.
EL: It’s funny because I’m double-majoring in both fuzzy and techie fields, and I have absolutely no idea how to combine them. There are majors that combine them (CS+X and MST [Music, Science and Technology], for example), but I’d rather appreciate the two fields for how different they are.
And the final question, from Lomita: Why should I choose Stanford?
SR: In my time at Stanford, I have had many moments of complete awe and pride from the work of my peers. For example, a theater group recently put on a production of “Hairspray.” There were a few exhilarating moments when I could sense that everyone in the audience was in complete agreement about how talented the performers were and how enormous the production was. Your peers at Stanford will be thoughtful, creative, talented and human. And no matter what you want to do, Stanford will have a world-class department for it.
EK: Because you’ll get great opportunities at Stanford that you would never get anywhere else.
KB: First of all, Stanford has an amazing [program] for almost any major. Second, people are very, very open-minded, and people are always willing to help you, especially professors. The curriculum isn’t too different than most universities, but the way it’s taught here is different. That being said, I could add the prestige the Stanford education gives you, especially back in my home country, Cameroon.
ET: There are too many reasons. The first few that come to mind are: humble students who are willing to collaborate with and help each other learn, a vast amount of resources and funding to engage in research or kickstart a project into a company, and beautiful weather.
EL: Come here because it’s great! You’ll meet some of the world’s most impressive, humble and fascinating young adults here. At Stanford, you’ll make awesome friends, and they’ll be sure to give you an experience of a lifetime.
Contact Samantha Wong at slwong ‘at’ stanford.edu.