Editor’s note: This is the second year The Daily has run a senior survey. We collected 153 responses, representing slightly less than 10% of the approximately 1,800 graduating seniors, so survey results should be interpreted with caution. We welcome feedback on the questions asked for future versions of this survey.
The Class of 2021 endured a senior year largely online due to the ongoing pandemic. They were ultimately invited back to campus for spring 2021, and the University is holding an in-person commencement ceremony. More than a third of seniors reported losing a job or internship due to the pandemic.
This year’s graduating class also witnessed a new U.S. president take office. More than half of respondents (55%) hold a “favorable” or “very favorable” view of Joe Biden, and an even larger percentage (81%) hold the same opinions on his handling of the pandemic.
Survey respondents were not entirely representative of the senior class. Respondents were mainly female, whereas Stanford reports each class to have approximately the same number of female and male students. Nearly 70% of respondents identified as female, 27% identified as male, 5% identified as as non-binary/third gender and 1% preferred to self describe. About 3% of respondents identified as transgender.
Almost 70% of respondents identified as straight, 16% identified as bisexual, 10% identified as gay or lesbian and 2% identified as asexual.
The race and ethnicity of respondents were more representative of Stanford undergraduates based on numbers from the IDEAL dashboard.
Additionally, 41.5% of respondents did not receive any need-based financial aid from Stanford. 53.5% of respondents indicated they received some form of financial aid, and 14% received full rides.
The five most popular majors of senior respondents are computer science, human biology, international relations, symbolic systems and economics. This reflects the popularity of these majors over the past decade. 12% of respondents are graduating with a second major. The most popular second majors are comparative literature and philosophy.
About 43% of respondents are graduating with a minor. The most common are history, comparative studies in race and ethnicity and creative writing. 32.7% of respondents are graduating with honors.
The average reported GPA is 3.8, and the median reported is 3.9. Those metrics stay the same for majors classified as STEM and non-STEM.
Three-quarters of respondents reported witnessing a student, including themselves, cheating on a test or assignment. This percentage rose to 78% for STEM majors and was 66% for non-STEM majors.
Slightly less than half of respondents studied abroad. The most popular programs were Oxford, Paris and Australia.
Housing & lifestyle
After remaining mostly closed for a year since the start of the pandemic, Stanford welcomed juniors and seniors back to campus for spring quarter. 63% of respondents are currently on campus. Overall, 67% of respondents reported being very satisfied with their living arrangement whereas 4.5% are somewhat dissatisfied.
Seniors reported going out to a party or large social gathering for an average of five weeks of a 10 week quarter. Of the quarter of respondents in Greek life, 15% felt forced to consume a substance. Respondents were a member of an average of 3.8 clubs during their undergraduate career, and 7% felt forced to consume a substance due to their participation in a club. On the median, respondents dated one person and had two sexual partners.
Alcohol and marijuana account for the majority of drug culture at Stanford, with 98% of respondents using the former and 64% the latter. One fifth of respondents used psychedelics, 10% used the “study drugs” Adderall/Ritalin, 7.5% reported using cocaine, 6% reported using Ecstasy/MDMA and 2% used opiates.
The most common post-graduation plan is graduate school, with more than half of respondents pursuing this option. Of those, the most popular graduate program is Stanford’s coterm with 28% attending it. 16% of respondents will be entering a Ph.D. program, 12% will be going to medical school, and another 12% will be attending law school.
The next most popular post-graduation plan is starting a job, with 40% of respondents reporting this. Technology, consulting and healthcare are the most popular industries, with 31%, 19% and 11% of respondents starting a job entering those industries respectively. For those that reported their employer, Stanford is the most common.
30% of respondents starting a job or internship expect to make a base salary in the $50,000-$70,000 range, 23% expect to make more than $110,000, another 23% of respondents expect to make a base salary in the $70,000-$110,000 range, 15% expect to make between $30,000 and $50,000 and 9% expect to make less than $30,000.
93% of respondents plan to stay in the U.S., and 60% plan to remain in California. 65% of seniors report having different post-graduation plans than when entering. For the three most popular industries, the percentage of students who intend to enter technology rose from 27% to 31% when comparing their frosh selves to their senior selves. 19% of respondents will enter consulting after graduation, but only 3% planned to enter the industry before starting Stanford. While a fifth of respondents planned to pursue healthcare at the start of their undergraduate experience, only 11% will be doing so.
Experience with Stanford resources
A third of respondents reported that their academic experience had a “somewhat negative” impact on their mental health. 22% reported a “somewhat positive” impact. A plurality — 36.6% — of respondents reported that Stanford “sometimes” sufficiently covered their mental health needs.
Many seniors reported using a University support office, including the Stanford Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response (SARA) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which is part of the Vaden Health Center.
A majority of seniors have never used CAPS, but of those that had, 38% had a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” experience. More than 80% of respondents have used Vaden services aside from CAPS. The most commonly reported experiences were “somewhat positive” and “neutral.” The vast majority of respondents have not used the SARA office, but of those that did, 93% identified as female or non-binary.
Approval of the administration
Seniors largely disapproved of Stanford’s COVID-19 response, Stanford’s handling of paying workers during COVID-19 and Stanford’s response to current events, especially those involving racial injustice, with 60%, 81% and 54% disapproving respectively. In contrast, seniors were less disapproving of the Associated Students of Stanford University COVID-19 response, with 29% disapproving.
Students also held a more favorable view of their academic department’s COVID response, with only 15% disapproving. These trends follow similar patterns with the results from last year’s senior survey. The majority of students surveyed had a favorable view of President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell and Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole.
In April, Stanford announced that the university will hold an in-person commencement. 77% of surveyed seniors indicated they would be attending the ceremony in person. 90% of surveyed seniors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and an additional 3% have received their first dose.
Despite relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and the ongoing vaccine roll-out, many seniors indicated that the pandemic has taken a toll on their academics. 61.2% of students responded that they pandemic has negatively impacted their academic performance, and only 5% of respondents believe the pandemic has very positively influenced their academic performance.
While COVID-19 may have negatively impacted seniors’ academic performance, it has not had much impact on living plans after graduation, with 91% of seniors indicating they are just as likely to live in a city post-graduation. 5% plan to live in a cheaper location because they are worse off financially.
Opinions on campus issues
Stanford seniors were largely in favor of Stanford divesting from private prisons and fossil fuels. 79% of seniors believe Stanford should stop divestment in fossil fuels, with 55% of respondents strongly agreeing and 24% agreeing. A similar pattern holds true for divestment in private prisons, with 84% of respondents answering that Stanford should do so.
Students remain unsure about donating to Stanford in the future. Only 8% of seniors indicated they would definitely donate to Stanford in the future, while 38% would consider and 16% answer that they would definitely not. More than three-quarters of students surveyed believe Stanford caters toward the wealthier upper class. Despite students’ disagreement with Stanford policies and reluctance to donate, 72% indicated that they think Stanford has a positive impact on society.
Students have an overall favorable opinion of Biden and his COVID-19 response, with 75.4% responding they see it favorably, compared to 55.4% of students viewing Biden favorably. The vast majority of surveyed seniors are liberal, while 17.1% indicated that they are moderate and 3.4% said they were very conservative. 84% of seniors voted in the 2020 election. Of those that didn’t, two-thirds were not U.S. citizens, and 17% responded that other barriers prevented them from voting.
Please contact the data team at data ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.