(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


Opinion: Is Stanford worth the hype?

Stanford University is a dream come true for many high school students but their experiences about the campus differ.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/thedanielwalter/" target="_self">Walter Mchana</a>

Walter Mchana

May 10, 2023

“Congratulations! You have been admitted to the Stanford Class of …”. The powerful sentence breaks deafening silence. Across countless videos in the “Admitted to Stanford: Class of… Reacts” series, accepted students jump up and down, screaming in excitement and crying tears of joy. If you haven’t checked out these videos, I definitely recommend. One must wonder, though — is the school of potential leaders and changemakers really worth the hype? Does the school that inspired ‘Legally Blonde’ deserve its immense reputation?

Stanford University is a household name, producing alumni who are luminaries in fields ranging from business to performing arts. Without Stanford, companies like Google, Snapchat and Netflix might not have been born. Would the Gen-Z world be the same?

When you look at the school’s low admission rate, however, it is no surprise that the prospect of getting in can be disregarded as an improbable dream by many. Having an endowment of more than 35 billion dollars and 20 Nobel Laureates currently in faculty, the institution consistently ranks among the top universities globally, making it highly competitive.

Still, like any other school, Stanford has its merits and demerits. The sunny, palm-treed California campus might be neither the heaven many high school students expect nor the hell some people describe it as. 

For many high school students, Stanford is a place where academic pressure can definitely take a toll; not surprising, certainly, for a school of its caliber. Some also worried that impostor syndrome, as well as the number of egotistical people, would likely be high. 

Considering the difficult journey to get there, it all makes sense, doesn’t it? All in all, though, the high school side concluded that Stanford is a great school. Do the college students agree? I spoke to several Stanford students to get their input on the burning question. Here are some of their views:

Attending Stanford 

Reasons vary for choosing the college: students all mentioned location, weather, financial aid and prestige (which I am certain quite a few people are guilty of). Regardless of the reason, however, none of the students interviewed regretted picking Stanford. 

“Stanford has met my expectations, if not surpassed them,” Ulises Perez  said. “First of all, the campus is beautiful.”

To the rest of the Stanford student body, if you could go back in time, would you pick Stanford again?

Mental health

We all know that mental health is crucial.Self care is very important.

Unfortunately, many high schoolers face deteriorating mental health due to academics and other activities. Might this find a cure in college, as many naive students think, or does it just get worse? While some Stanford students say their mental health has improved, all agree that some difficult classes can aggravate it.

“There are some classes that are quite challenging and that you need to be strong at,” Casey Nguyen said.

Pros and cons? 

One plus of Stanford is that there are always various opportunities to look out for, from internships like Stanford in New York to research. 

“There are a lot of financial and educational resources that Stanford offers to all students,” Nguyen said.

Unfortunately, the huge campus can lose its fun when you have to ride a bike almost everywhere. Yet other students have found the bright side in Stanford’s size.

“I find the big campus a good opportunity to get some exercise and bike,” Nguyen said.

One ambiguous aspect of Stanford, however, is whether its dining halls are good or bad. Do they need improvement? And if so, should there be a petition to solve this?

“Sometimes the dining hall food is good with some specials, but sometimes it’s not good,” Nguyen said.


As the overused saying goes, the community is generally friendly. Most people are nice and outgoing, according to Perez, and very welcoming as well.

“If you’re from a specific background they won’t treat you differently because of it,” said Perez. “I really love that.”

That being said, there are a few egocentric students on campus. According to some students, there are a few people who “think the world revolves around them.”

Others, however, are battling impostor syndrome — in simple terms, the belief that they don’t belong at Stanford, leading them to constantly undermining their own accomplishments. This is in addition to perfectionism, which is reasonable in such a thriving environment.

“I have a saying and will stick to it,” Perez said. “Every Stanford student has impostor syndrome, and they’re perfectionists.”

Social and dorm life 

It’s hard to disagree that it can be quite a task to balance your social life and academic success. At Stanford, sometimes plans to go have fun on the weekend can be entangled by a load of work to complete or because the school is “in the middle of nowhere,” making it difficult to get around.

But the school also has its positives. One is its school spirit.

Another positive is Stanford’s events and traditions, like fountain hopping and the Primal Scream, which can help students develop strong friendships and memorable experiences.

“When you fountain hop for the first time with friends, it’s definitely a core memory that you keep with you,” Nguyen said.

Meanwhile, dorm life varies for everyone, since people have different experiences.

Is Stanford overrated? 

Because Stanford’s social life can sometimes be less vibrant than other schools, it may seem like an overrated choice for those who want a more social environment. But for others, the school is neither overrated nor underrated. Once again, it depends on the individual. 

There is so much to talk about, and there are a lot of varying views and opinions. I guess the big question is up to you: Is Stanford worth the hype?