Dear frosh: You truly do have a place at Stanford

Dec. 4, 2023, 12:07 a.m.

Dear frosh,

Your first quarter as a Stanford student is coming to a close. First and foremost, hooray! You got accepted to this world-class institution and have gotten this far. Getting here in itself was badass on your part, regardless of how that has translated into your experiences on campus.

I am writing this to you all as a senior who got transported at the first college party that I ever went to, only got around to declaring my major this quarter and have not had an internship even once. These and many other experiences during my time at Stanford have scared me and led me to question if I truly am deserving of my place on this campus.

In some ways, I hope that my words end up resonating with you. I certainly hope that some of my experiences at Stanford end up being ones that you do not end up sharing. However, I really do hope that I can help nudge you toward some realizations that, at least for me, have been very helpful: It is okay to be scared. Mistakes and failure are okay. Regardless, you still have your rightful place at Stanford.

During your first quarter at Stanford, you may have gotten the first ever grade that you were unhappy with. You may have pulled your first-ever all-nighter at Stanford. You may have even slept through class for the first time or, in the name of just catching up on yet another class, chosen to just not show up to one. 

Looking beyond the academics that, all too often, have the effect of defining too much of ourselves and too much of what the Stanford experience should supposedly look like, Stanford may have been the first time that your relationship (or situationship?) ended, you entered into an LDR, felt homesick or did your own laundry. From the classroom to dorm life, or even matters of the heart, I am sure you or your friends know by now that the first quarter on campus is a tumultuous time. 

The academic grind is real. Heartbreak on campus is real. The steep learning curve to being away from home is real. All of what you are feeling and going through — the good, the bad, the ugly and the unknown — is real. There is such a real hesitation and aversion toward expressing the truth on how vulnerable one truly is on campus. It is not just you. In all seriousness, odds are that the people in your dorm, classes, clubs and other groups on campus relate to this on multiple levels.

You may not feel like you are enough, and that is okay. You might not have planned out every single quarter of your classes, and that is okay. Things like internships or relationships may still be off the radar for you, and that is okay.

I would urge you to take it from a senior that has made several mistakes in my personal life, taken a few incompletes and has had profoundly scary experiences in doubting my place at Stanford. You belong here. Your place certainly is here at Stanford. Your acceptance to Stanford might be many things, and definitely on that list is that it is deserved. 

If you are to take away anything from my words to you here, then I hope that you hear me when I say to you that the ways in which your Stanford experience may have gone wrong for you does not take away from how good of a person you are. You may have a long way to go as a student, adult, partner or even as a friend. That is okay. Stanford still is, and it always will be, where you belong. Your professors want you to know that. Your advisors want you to know that. Your RAs want you to know that. Deep down, I think that you know that too. 

Sebastian Strawser ‘24 is an Opinions contributor. He also writes for Humor and The Grind. His interests include political philosophy, capybaras and Filipino food. Contact Sebastian at sstrawser 'at'

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