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Frosh support systems

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“Transitioning to Stanford is a 3-unit class” screams the Approaching Stanford website, the academic advising page and every adult I ask about starting college. The fall quarter of frosh year is almost halfway over, and the transition has been a rocky one — but Stanford goes out of its way to make sure it’s as smooth as possible. If anything, the sheer number of resources we have to reach out to is almost overwhelming.

I remember showing up to my Stanford Newcomer Guide (SNG) meeting with around six other students and thinking about how incredible it was that in a school with over 7,000 undergraduates, we were able to receive so much personalized attention. The transition to college  was supposed to be tumultuous, stressful and challenging to process, but the administration doesn’t want it to be. When something comes up, it’s almost difficult to know who to go to because there are so many options. Choice paralysis ensues — should I make an appointment with my Academic Advising Director (AAD)? My SNG? Stop by my dorm and talk to my RA? My big sib? My roommates, my friends, the stuffed animal in our lounge? 

Even when it comes to academic help, with writing or completing an assignment, the resources are almost endless. In the Structured Liberal Education (SLE) program, we can talk to a SLE Residential Tutor, a SLE Tutor, a section leader, upperclassmen in the dorms who volunteer their time or a specialist at the Hume Center. In other classes, section leaders, office hours and tutoring services are all available.

Yet when I’m going through a rough time, I always find myself calling home or talking to friends who live thousands of miles away. Why is that? There are people here who I care about and trust deeply who do all they can to make sure we don’t feel this way. They know and can speak to what we’re dealing with because they’ve done the same thing. 

But they’re unfamiliar. It takes more than a few weeks to really get used to something so new. We didn’t know where we’d live until July. We didn’t talk to our AADs until August, and we didn’t know who our SNG’s were until even later. Most of the people we know now are people we didn’t meet until move-in day.

In order to ease the transition into college, Stanford piles on resource after resource — but they’re all given to us after we get onto campus, at a time when everything else is also overwhelming. Instead, introduce us to everyone earlier. Let us schedule multiple conversations with our advisors, pair us up with upperclassmen, and give us time to bond with our roommates before the year begins (like every other school in the world). Let the three-unit transition to Stanford be a group effort, not a solo endeavor.  

Contact Miranda Liu at mirliu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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