The anomaly of the Stanford experience

Feb. 20, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

As a kid, movies and TV shows really had me fooled with their false portrayals of reality. Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” did not thoroughly prepare me for the cringe-worthy and awkward three years that were my middle school experience. And then Disney Channel depicted high school as this tumultuous balancing act between trying to be an everyday girl while concealing a secret identity as a pop star, a wizard or a psychic (shout out to “Hannah Montana,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “That’s So Raven,” respectively).

Even as I grew older, practically every college-focused movie I watched convinced me that I would see frat boys jumping off of roofs every weekend, live in dorm rooms large enough to do flips in, experience wild spring breaks during which the entire school would venture to Miami (or a comparable destination), and I be able to disregard any “work” that I have whenever I want. Eventually, I came to terms with all of those inaccuracies. Middle school sucked. I didn’t lead a double life in high school. And I have yet to find any fictional entertainment that truly portrays the Stanford experience.

But then I started thinking: Perhaps the reason that I can’t seem to find any movies that accurately depict my college experience is because hardly any of my home friends can even relate to my college experience. I’ve done a good job of staying very close to many of my high school friends, so I hear about their lives regularly. And in many ways, their lives at these large state schools differ entirely from mine.

For many of them, the party scene actually does dominate the campus culture. While they’re not necessarily doing keg stands at noon on a Thursday or taking body shots off of strangers at bars, many of them regularly go out four (maybe even five) times during a typical week, and even if they choose not to partake, the option is always there — finals and midterm season included. I know. Shocking.

They also just have more opportunities to meet new people. On a campus of well over 20,000 undergrads, there’s certainly no shortage of potential friendships. Do they take advantage of all of those opportunities? Perhaps not. But I swear that sometimes it feels like I know, know of, or at least have seen every single person here — or, at the very least, every single person in my class.

And I can’t help but occasionally feeling like they’re all just reaching adulthood faster than I am. Most of them are living in real apartments right now. Apartments for which they had to actively search. Apartments for which they were required to sign leases. The only thing I sign at this school is the Honor Code statement before taking an exam. Some of them find it unfathomable that I’m going to be living on campus for all four years. I complain about biking all the way to class; meanwhile, they’re waking up early to make sure they can catch a shuttle. I’ve yet to even set foot on the Marguerite.

College has forced me to grow up, but sometimes I wonder if the Stanford Bubble is inhibiting me from growing up as much as I could. But then again, are my home friends actually growing up any faster than me? I mean, I sure do hear of them eating a lot of instant meals instead of cooking. And if your parents handle the apartment search for you, isn’t it more or less the same as Stanford handling the Draw for me?

In hindsight, maybe hoping to discover psychic abilities as soon as I crossed the threshold into my high school’s auditorium was a tad far-fetched. And maybe Stanford doesn’t match the movies because it hardly even matches other schools. I don’t know if a movie about my real college life would be worth watching or if it would tragically plummet on Rotten Tomatoes, but regardless, I love to live it.


Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’

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