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Banner with text: Approaching Stanford, Summer Advising Newsletter
July 15, 2022

Dear Class of 2026 & Transfers,

Welcome to the second of our three dedicated Academic Advising Newsletters from your Undergraduate Advising Directors (UADs) this summer. We hope your summers have been wonderful and that you have found time to relax and to reflect on your journey so far. We also know how excited you are to begin the next part of your Stanford journey.
It is with that in mind that we have written this month's advising newsletter. Though there is not very much in terms of academic planning that you have to be doing right now - except, perhaps, placement assessments - there are things you can be doing to start to explore the Stanford academic world, and we wanted to offer some guidance. 
Read this month's Advising Newsletter for:

Summer Advising Presentation: Exploring Your Stanford Courses 

Our guidance starts with the point that choosing courses in high school and in college are often pretty different. For many of you, your high school courses were assigned: you had a course in math, a course in English, a course in science, etc. And if you are coming in as a transfer, you may have had fewer choices in fulfilling requirements. But at Stanford, you’ll have the freedom to choose what courses to take each quarter. And even though you’ll have requirements (general education requirements, major requirements, etc.), it will be up to you to decide what you want to tackle and when. This freedom can be amazing – but we also understand it can feel overwhelming sometimes.
To help you get started, your Undergraduate Advising Directors (UADs) have created a helpful summer online advising presentation for you called “Exploring Your Stanford Courses.” 
The presentation is about 30 minutes long, and guides you through topics such as:
  • how to find courses in the fields that interest you,
  • how to explore major requirements,
  • how Stanford courses are structured,
  • how to use and understand ExploreCourses (our course catalog),
  • and much more.
We know you have questions– this video is here to start giving you answers! Frosh: Please be sure to watch this presentation before you sign up for a small group advising session with your UAD later this summer.

Academic Advising Website

Once you have watched the presentation, you may be ready for a deeper dive into what your academic journey will look like at Stanford. To help you with this, visit the Office of Academic Advising's website, advising.stanford.edu, throughout your time at Stanford. The website has several different sections listed in the menu. We encourage you to start with the Current Students section, which has useful information from now all the way to graduation.
Some places to start:
  • Our Choosing Courses guide has pages on frosh-friendly intro courses, choosing courses for your potential major, exploring your General Education Requirements, and much more.
  • The Advising Student Handbook answers many of your frequently asked questions about academics. Not sure what your graduation requirements are? Wondering if you should take a class for Credit/No Credit? Trying to get AP or transfer credit? Curious about what undergraduate research is and how to get started? We’ve got the answers you need!
  • My Stanford Story features the real-life student experiences of your Stanford peers (and some of your professors and academic staff, too). Learn from the stories of your fellow students and see how they navigated experiences such as: choosing a major, finding their community, being first-gen/low-income (FLI) at Stanford, and more.
For those of you considering pre-med, pre-law, or other pre-professional tracks, you may also want to explore the Beyond Undergrad section of our website, for advice on planning for medical school, law school, business school, etc.
Explore at your own pace– there is a lot on this website, and we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed! Remember that this website (and your Advisors) will be here for you throughout your time at Stanford.

Placement Tests & Diagnostics

Some of the materials we have been referencing have been about longer term planning. But we know you are also wondering what you can be doing this summer. In that spirit, are you planning to take any placement assessments? Remember that placement tests and diagnostics may be required if you plan to take courses in math, physics, or chemistry this year. Placements tests are also required if you plan to continue studying a foreign language you’ve studied before or would like to fulfill the Language Requirement.
We know the idea of taking yet another test may sound intimidating. And some of you may already have AP credit, IB credit, or other college-level course work. But no matter what your high school or pre-Stanford preparation has been, taking a placement assessment can help you enroll in a class at Stanford that’s at the right level for you, neither too easy nor too hard. Your placement test/diagnostic results will be private: only you and the relevant departments will be able to see them, and they never appear on your transcript. Moreover, taking an assessment doesn't obligate you to enroll in the course; it just provides additional information to factor in when choosing courses. So don’t be afraid to take any/all of them – think of them as a useful (and private) tool to help you figure out what the next step in your learning journey should be.
Since you haven’t decided on your courses yet, (the 2022-23 Explore Courses catalog will be published mid-August, and you'll enroll in courses in September), it’s usually a good idea to take the placement assessments offered in the summer, just in case, to give you more flexibility and options. Results are valid for the entire academic year. The school year at Stanford can be fast and furious, and though you might have an opportunity to take an assessment later on, you may find it’s not so easy to do when you’re also balancing midterms, essays, and other assignments. Take your placement assessments now and your future self will thank you! 
For more information, visit the Placement Tests and Diagnostics Q&A Board in Canvas.

The Successful Student - Key Academic Resources

We advisors often get asked, “What’s the secret to Stanford success?” That’s a big question, but here’s our fundamental answer: the successful students are the ones who make use of their resources. In our experience, folks who are successful don’t do it on their own. Instead, they rely on friends and family, on teachers and tutors, and on their community broadly. And while Stanford has many resources to support your success, we want to let you know about some key academic resources that we hope you will keep in mind once you arrive on campus – in addition, of course, to us, your Undergraduate Advising Directors!

Office Hours

The first resource is both one that is simultaneously the most present in each of your classes, but one that students often don’t make enough use of: your instructors. In college, your instructors – your professors, lecturers, teaching assistants, etc. – are not just there to talk at you. Rather, they are there to help you to understand the often very complex material. And they will hold office hours where they hope you will come to ask questions, to seek clarification, or to just introduce yourself. 

Academic Tutoring and Coaching

The second resource is tutoring and academic coaching. Stanford’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides subject tutoring for many of the introductory course sequences, such as Math, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, and Languages. CTL also runs excellent programs such as Academic Skills Coaching, where you will work with an “academic trainer” not on a specific course, but on your study skills and habits in general. An Academic Skills Coach can observe your strategies and techniques, suggest changes to your approach, and help you navigate challenges with time-management, test anxiety, and more. Even students who are doing well in their classes tell us how valuable their coaching sessions are.
Alongside CTL is Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing and Speaking. The Hume Center can help you with any of your writing assignments, from going over a writing prompt when it is first handed out, to helping you edit a final draft. They can even help with oral and visual presentations.

Resources for students with differential learning needs

In addition to these great resources, Stanford’s Office of Accessible Education (OAE) is the campus office designated to work with Stanford students with disabilities (temporary and long term). OAE provides a wide array of support services, accommodations, and programs to remove barriers to full participation in the life of the University. In addition, the Stanford Learning Lab is an excellent resource for students who wish to learn more about the way they learn and process information. The Learning Lab is here to help all students (both those with and without learning differences) to explore ways to best navigate their learning journey.
These are just a few of the resources that Stanford provides to help you meet your learning goals. But, as always, don’t worry about remembering all of this, as your UADs will be here to remind you about these resources, and to connect you with them.

Academic Exploration at Stanford: Why you don’t need to know your academic path yet  

Finally, we want to say a little something about academic exploration. We know that for many of you, your academic paths up to now have been pre-defined: every term you take an English class, a math class, a science class, a social studies course, etc. But this all changes when you get to Stanford. Though Stanford has requirements, as we mentioned earlier, there are always multiple options available for fulfilling those requirements. And you get to choose what classes you want to take, what requirements you want to fulfill when, and the best way to fulfill those requirements. There is also no rush; you have a few years to fulfill your graduation requirements, and many students spread them out across their time at Stanford.
So, as you are considering particular courses, possible majors, and your own academic path, we want to highlight two important points. First, exploration is not only good, but expected. Stanford wants you to both deepen existing interests, and find new ones. Second, and just as important, is that you really don’t have to have a major at this point. (As we said above, incoming frosh have until the end of their sophomore year to declare, and transfer students have until the end of their first year.) There are many possible roads to intellectual and professional success, and the best path for you might be one that you haven’t even heard about yet.
Whether you know exactly what you want or have no idea where to start, Stanford encourages you to explore widely! And the university has set up its academic requirements so you’ll have the opportunity for that exploration. There will be a lot of time to think about and talk about major choices over the next two years. So keep an open mind, and come to campus ready to discover the many different areas of study that Stanford offers.
As we have said, you don’t need to know all the answers right now. But generating questions is always a great thing to do! If you're a frosh, save up those questions, as your Academic Advisors will be thrilled to talk to you about them when we begin to meet with you later this summer.
Watch the Summer Advising Presentation: Exploring Your Stanford Courses
Contact Us
Office of Academic Advising
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
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590 Escondido Mall | Stanford, CA 94305-3085 US
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