Considering Stanford

Students weigh in on location and appeal

Now that college applications have been completed and sent off to their respective universities, seniors can take a deep breath and wait for the responses to start rolling in. While waiting is agonizing on its own, choosing which colleges to apply to is a hardship in and of itself.

Being right across the street from Stanford University, Palo Alto High School has a special recognition of living so close to a prestigious institution. The town itself has a great relationship with the university and many residents are proud to call Stanford their home.

But when application time comes will a student apply to his or her hometown school or decide to dive into new scenery and weather with the plethora of schools on the East Coast? For some students, Stanford seems like a logical step in a stacked college application.

Ria Bhatnagar, a graduate of the Gunn High School Class of 2012 and currently a junior at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, reiterates that some seniors are attracted to Stanford because of their aspirations for top-10 or even top-5 universities in the country yet alone the world.

“The people who applied were the ones who were also applying to Harvard,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, Princeton, all of those and were pretty sure of getting in,” Bhatnagar said.

For every student, factors like cost and suitability — aside from interests and needs — are the main thoughts when applying to a premier university or college. But for prospective college bound students in Palo Alto, location is another big aspect to consider. For those who want to get away, Stanford is a no-go.

“Some people say that Stanford is too close to home, but Stanford really is its own city. It’s true what they say: Stanford is its own bubble. Campus life occurs on campus,” said Nick Quach, a graduate of the Paly class of 2014 and a current freshman at Stanford University. Quach has many reasons as to why he chose Stanford for his undergraduate education.

“There’s such [a] diversity of people [at Stanford]. What ever you think of or like, you will find someone who agrees with you, and also someone who disagrees with you. But everyone is respectful of your opinions,” Quach said. Theodore Hu, also a 2014 Paly graduate and a current freshman at Stanford, agrees with Quach’s opinion on what Stanford’s varied student population has to offer.

“Throw a rock into a crowd of Stanford students and you’ll probably hit some genius, someone who went or is going to the Olympics, someone who started a company or someone who launched a successful social project in underdeveloped parts of the world,” he said.

And for others, applying to Stanford means hoping for a rare place in Stanford’s acceptance pool. According to its website, Stanford’s acceptance rate is now 5.1% of their 42,167 applicants as of fall 2014.

Stanford, being a top private school, also has a high tuition fee, which may cause hesitation when considering to apply.

The annual tuition for an undergraduate student, according to Stanford’s website, is $44,184. The median income for a Palo Alto family is $163,661. This hefty price tag is likely to call for a significant amount of a family’s annual income. There is also the concern of where a student’s tuition fund will come from: the parents or Stanford?

If the student is not eligible, then they would probably decide not to apply to Stanford at all in order to escape the heavy debt on his and her shoulders once they graduate.

So to apply or not? The answer may vary, but the question is the same, and it hits home.