I visited Stanford for two days in April as a prospective freshman. I have concluded that if you like California, you’ll like Stanford. It’s almost that simple.

Stanford is in Palo Alto. That means you can expect varying degrees of summer weather year round: warm with very little rain.

Stanford enjoys a typically Californian atmosphere. The students are friendly, laid-back, and relaxed. They are always doing something outside; in general it seems that students spend more time under the sun than under a roof. Several freshmen claimed that the professors actually ease up on the workload when the weather nears perfect conditions. At the same time, everyone assured me that hard work was done, but with a “healthier attitude.” A familiar refrain about academics went something like this: “Things are pretty fun around here but you can be as intense as you want to be.” It helps that Stanford is one of the top schools in the nation in academics.

The campus is enormous. Stanford’s extensive athletic facilities are especially impressive. A bicycle is necessary equipment to get to classes quickly and everyone seems to have one. Sometimes the traffic of two-wheeled vehicles becomes intense.

The dorms were newer and better-looking than the ones I’d seen at Ivy League colleges. (Or do buildings just look better in constant sunlight and warmth?) Walking around the campus, I did not realize that Stanford suffered about $20 million in damage in the earthquake that hit California last October. A church and an art museum – both located on campus – have been closed due to damage.

Worried about going so far from home? Strangely, although Stanford accepts a large percentage of Californians, many of the freshmen I talked to came from out-of-state. And everyone agreed that they loved “getting away.”

Reviewed in 1990