What It's Like To Study At Stanford As A High School Student

by Maria Elena Handtrack

I have been in my courses for a few weeks now and wanted to share what it is like to study at Stanford. I am enrolled in “Genocide and Humanitarian Intervention” and “Introduction to International Relations”. The courses are part of the Human Rights Intensive, which is offered here. The Human Rights Intensive Studies enable students to pick out of a variety of courses related to Human Rights and to attend talks by experts of the field. Personally, I am very interested in the study and enforcement of Human Rights and was therefore keen to participate in this academic program.

One of the main differences between college and high school courses is that there is more work that you are expected to do on your own, without anyone checking on it. This puts more responsibility on the students, but also gives them more independence. I love being able to schedule my work all by myself and to decide when I will focus on what. What is really important for college courses is that you stay on top of your work. There is no one who is constantly checking on you; it’s up to you. My mentors were very helpful in my first week at Stanford because they helped me to get used to the new responsibility and they were always open to questions about study spots, methods, and they never stopped cheering my peers and me up!

When I need help with subject-specific course work, I have many people I can direct my questions to. Stanford provides an incredible amount of resources and as a student, you have access to all of them. I have never studied in an environment where I could get so much help. But – as when it comes to work – you are expected to ask for help when you are struggling. And even if you are not struggling, but you simply have questions or want some support, you can ask for it. My professors, their teaching assistants, and tutors offer their time to all students. They are very helpful and help you to understand the course material better.

For me, tutoring was particularly helpful. Stanford offers free tutoring for its students and I took advantage of this. The Summer Academic Resource Center (SARC) is offering the tutor sessions to Stanford students. They offer writing sessions where you can go with any questions concerning writing assignments and subject-specific tutoring sessions. Their tutoring has been particularly helpful for me because I did not know what was expected from me in college essays. SARC is also offering subject-specific tutoring and sessions focusing on communication and writing for students whose first language is not English. I am very grateful for these sessions because they gave me the opportunity to ask questions about basic English grammar or to simply practice writing in a foreign language. They are open to helping high school and college students. The tutors are Stanford students who had been trained to be tutors.

All in all, Stanford provides a very supportive environment where you can always get help or ask questions! This makes learning less stressful and enables everyone to study at their own pace.