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August 8, 2022
Photo of Stanford Main Quad (Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service)

Dear Class of 2026,

Each August as Summer Quarter winds down, Stanford gets ready for the new academic year by refreshing the Bulletin, ExploreCourses, and Axess, along with finalizing first-year housing and required course assignments. It's always exciting to see what's in store for the upcoming year and to start to think of Stanford as your new home!
Today's Newsletter details frosh courses offered by VPUE. Over the next few weeks, various other offices at Stanford will begin reaching out to you to share assignments and information, so please be sure to check your Stanford email regularly and complete any action items as requested. 
Phishing Email: However, as you begin to hear from different campus offices, we would also like to raise your awareness of email phishing attempts. Please note that Stanford offices and faculty should never ask via email or text for your login, password, or any bank account information. Contact Approaching Stanford if you are unsure about an email you've received. You can report phishing to Stanford IT.
Read on in this week's Newsletter for:
Have a great week, and, as always, let us know if you have questions or want to talk!
Approaching Stanford Team
approaching@stanford.edu
(650) 723-7674
 
Profile photo of Vice Provost Sarah Church (Photo credit Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service)

From the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Dear Member of the Class of 2026,
At Stanford, you will fully realize a liberal education - an academic journey that broadens your knowledge and awareness in the major areas of human knowledge, and one that significantly deepens understanding of one or two of these areas. A Stanford education uniquely prepares you for lifetime learning and application of knowledge to your own life and to the well being of society.
This balance between depth of knowledge acquired in specialization and breadth of knowledge acquired through exploration is achieved through Stanford's General Education Requirements - including the Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing Requirement, in which students choose courses in eight distinct but connected categories - and by the requirements set for major fields of study.
Through the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education office (VPUE), Stanford offers unique courses to first-year students that help you fulfill your General Education Requirements. These foundational courses, which challenge you to think critically and to develop your analytical and communication skills, are found in all our frosh programs, including Civic, Liberal, and Global Education (COLLEGE), Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF), Structured Liberal Education (SLE), ITALIC, and Introductory Seminars (IntroSems). This is both an exciting time and one that merits experimentation. I encourage you to see these required and elective courses, along with Frosh 101, as an opportunity to explore different fields and subjects that you may not have had the chance to study in high school. We believe that your first year presents valuable opportunities for educational breadth and exploration before you begin narrowing your focus as you consider which major to choose at some point in your sophomore year.
If you have any questions about the VPUE courses described in this email, feel free to contact the programs introduced below. 
I wish you all the best and look forward to meeting you at New Student Orientation in September. Until then, have a great summer!
Sarah Church
Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
The Pritzker University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Professor of Physics

Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement

Welcome to Stanford! For over 100 years, Stanford has introduced new students to the intellectual life of the University through required courses designed especially for first-year students. This year, you'll take two quarters of the "Civic, Liberal, and Global Education” Requirement. We’re calling it COLLEGE, to highlight its purpose. Where the function of the university is to discover new knowledge, the goals of college are different. College is not just about preparing you to make a living, but about exploring what makes living worthwhile. It’s also about acquiring the skills that empower and enable us to live together: in our own communities, in a diverse nation, and in a globally connected society. So COLLEGE is more than just a quasi-acronym: it’s a vision of what a college experience can be.
You'll get an email soon letting you know your quarter placement for courses that fulfill the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement. Assignments were made based on the preferences you provided on your Approaching Stanford Forms. As a reminder, here is a quick overview of the choices:
  • COLLEGE: COLLEGE courses fulfill the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement and one of the Ways.
  • ESF: Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF) seminars fulfill one quarter of the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement, the first year Writing & Rhetoric Requirement, and one of the Ways. As you look at your autumn schedule, keep in mind that, in addition to your seminar and writing section meetings, all ESF classes gather on Fridays for a plenary lecture from 12:30pm-1:20pm. There was a lot of student interest in ESF, but unfortunately there is a limited number of spaces.
  • ITALIC: You will be getting more details from the program by email. The full year of ITALIC fulfills the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement, the first year Writing & Rhetoric Requirement, and some of the Ways.
  • SLE: You will be getting more details from the program by email. The full year of Structured Liberal Education (SLE) fulfills the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education Requirement, the first and second year Writing & Rhetoric Requirements, and some of the Ways.

Writing and Rhetoric Requirement & PWR

The Stanford Writing and Rhetoric Requirement was created to allow students to develop their strengths as writers, researchers, and presenters. Across your years as an undergrad, you’ll take three different required writing courses (WR-1, WR-2, and WIM), and each one will give you opportunities to gain greater sophistication in conducting inquiry and producing scholarly work in progressively more specific disciplinary contexts.
PWR 1 courses (including ESF, ITALIC, and SLE) fulfill the first-year Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WR-1). There is a wide selection of PWR 1 courses being offered this year – with a variety of themes from ethnic and racial identity, to innovation, digital activism, the feature article, and the rhetoric of health, illness, and medicine; review our PWR 1 online catalog to browse the full list of our offerings.
You can check your PWR quarter assignment here*. If you will be taking PWR in Autumn, you will receive information about submitting section preferences later this month. To find out more about taking PWR, visit our PWR Enrollment site.
PWR also offers 1-unit credit/no credit companion courses that you can take concurrently with PWR 1 if you'd like more focused attention on developing your writing in active-learning sessions. You should consider one of these courses if you feel you would benefit from joining in a community of writing practice for extra support while fulfilling your first-year writing requirement: 
  • The PWR 1 Studio (PWR 1WS) provides students who grew up speaking other languages in addition to English the opportunity to join a class composed of similar writers, where they can have additional time to work on their academic writing while enrolled in PWR 1 (or its equivalent).
  • The PWR 1 Workshop (PWR 1WW) is designed for any writer who would like additional time and support dedicated to working on their writing. In this flexible workshop, you can focus on the elements of your writing practice that you are most interested in developing further while building community with other writers.
For more information on these programs, including their application deadlines, visit the PWR Companion course website.
*Note for ESF, SLE, and ITALIC students: You will fulfill your first year Writing and Rhetoric Requirement in your respective program and will not be assigned a PWR 1 course.

Your Guide to Introductory Seminars (IntroSems)

Want to experience something new? Ready to try on some different stripes or spots? Then be bold and make IntroSems part of your Stanford education!
IntroSems are small discussion-based and unit-bearing elective classes of 16 students taught by renowned research faculty and expert instructors from all seven schools at Stanford and designed specifically for frosh and sophomores. IntroSems are learning and exploration communities formed around shared intellectual and creative interests on a particular topic—well suited to dipping your toe in a potential major, meeting a faculty mentor early in your college career, and exploring your new surroundings with new friends who share your sense for academic adventure. Several IntroSems satisfy Ways general education requirements and all IntroSems are accessible regardless of prior background. With almost 200 IntroSems offered in 2022-23, you will have many opportunities to try something wild and unexpected this year!
Only first-year, sophomore, and new transfer students are able to request priority enrollment in IntroSems through a simple application process before registering for other classes. IntroSem faculty build their classes from the short statement of interest you submit. Admitted students are automatically enrolled, high-demand seminars may have waitlists, and those that do not fill through advance sign-ups open to self-enrollment later. If your schedule changes, you can drop an IntroSem.
The complete listing of Frosh-preference IntroSems—which are exclusively taught by Academic Council faculty—will be available starting August 15th at Explore IntroSems. Browse IntroSem course descriptions and read welcoming comments from the faculty who teach them. Refine your search by quarter, department, Way, or big question. Then, exercise your priority by applying for up to three IntroSems each quarter in the IntroSems’ VCA.
For Autumn IntroSems, be sure to apply for priority enrollment by September 6th. Course status will be released during NSO.
In the coming days, watch your mail for the new IntroSems field guide with all the details and deadlines you’ll need to be bold this year…
Questions? Join the conversation on the IntroSems Q&A Board in Canvas.

Frosh 101

Your Stanford education will include learning more about who you are and who you want to be in this new social, cultural, and academic environment. This new journey can be very exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. At Stanford we believe that no one can succeed alone, and we hope you will learn that the quality of the relationships you build with peers, faculty, and staff will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
Frosh 101, now entering its sixth year, is designed to support you as you transition to Stanford's dynamic campus. The course is a 2-unit seminar in which upper-class students will lead a group of first-year students through weekly activities and conversations. This class focuses on your growth and development both in and out of the classroom, as well as provides space for you and your peers to show up authentically and support each other. Our Frosh 101 leaders will share their experiences and insights.
Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback from students who have taken Frosh 101 in the early years, this seminar is offered in all frosh residences every fall so that you can take this course with members of your residential community. All interested students are welcome and encouraged to enroll. Fun fact: in Fall 2021, over 1,000 frosh participated in Frosh 101, making it Stanford's most-enrolled, opt-in course that quarter!
If you have questions, email frosh101program@stanford.edu or join the Frosh & Transfer 101 Q&A Board in Canvas.

Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing (Ways) Requirement

The Ways is an integral part of your General Education Requirements and Stanford's breadth system. You'll be building your own custom toolkit with a set of intellectual skills. You must take 11 courses in 8 Ways any time during your undergraduate years. In ExploreCourses, look for "UG Reqs" at the end of each course description for Ways-certified courses.
Ways aims to develop certain capacities - ways of “thinking” and “doing” - that are explored in a broad range of departments. Altogether, Ways will provide you with a well-rounded intellectual toolkit to use here at Stanford and to take with you when you graduate. The Ways requirement includes: 
1. Aesthetic and Interpretive Inquiry (AII) – 2 courses. Learn interpretive and analytical skills to explore and understand cultural and artistic endeavors. Courses can be found in the areas of study such as history, philosophy, literature, the arts, and other cultural practices.
2. Applied Quantitative Reasoning (AQR) – 1 course. In AQR, you’ll apply analytical and numerical tools to problems that are important in understanding the world and our role in it. AQR courses typically include assignments where you’ll be asked to manipulate data and use inductive reasoning to solve problems using computational or statistical software.
3. Creative Expression (CE) – 1 course. Here, you’ll be “doing” something creatively, giving expressive shape to ideas, and communicating those ideas imaginatively—these skills are indispensable to Creative Expression. Fields include product design, the visual arts, creative writing, dance and musical and dramatic performance.
4. Exploring Difference and Power (EDP) – 1 course. Now more than ever, an awareness and understanding of difference is crucial. By gaining knowledge about difference and power, you’ll enhance your ability to respond to cultural challenges in a global world. Many EDP courses are available in English, History, Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, just to name a few areas.
5. Ethical Reasoning (ER) – 1 course. What counts as right and wrong action? What are valuable qualities of human character? ER courses will help you examine these types of questions, learn how to analyze ethical issues, and draw conclusions. Courses may be found in a variety of departments including Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Religious Studies.
6. Formal Reasoning (FR) – 1 course. You will develop, understand, and manipulate numbers/symbols based on formal rules while sharpening your logic and deductive reasoning skills. This will strengthen your ability to respond to the challenges posed by an increasingly complex and data-driven world. You might fulfill FR by taking courses in Math, Science, Engineering, Linguistics, or Philosophy. 
7. Scientific Method and Analysis (SMA) – 2 courses. Scientific literacy is critical to complex problem-solving and touches on many aspects of human life. You will learn to analyze and synthesize scientific information about the natural and physical world, understand the limitations and strengths of existing theories, and ask strategic questions and assess empirical evidence. SMA courses can be found in the natural, physical, and earth sciences, social sciences or in engineering. 
8. Social Inquiry (SI) – 2 courses. SI courses focus on probing questions that are of a social nature (i.e. pertaining to social arrangements, human behavior and forms of social, political and economic organization). You’ll find courses in social sciences, History, Psychology, Economics, Linguistics, and in other disciplines such as Comparative Literature, Engineering, and Religious Studies.
Sound like a lot? Don’t worry! With more than 3,000 Ways-certified courses, it's not difficult to fulfill your Ways and you don't need to dive in immediately. For example, COLLEGE, ITALIC, SLE, ESF, and many Introductory Seminars also satisfy some of the Ways. You design your own roadmap, so explore broadly and develop or discover your interests! Learn more about Ways at ways.stanford.edu.

Advising Corner: "Ask An Advisor" & Placement Assessments

Thank you for the excellent questions you have asked our Undergraduate Advising Directors (UADs) on the "Ask an Academic Advisor" Q&A Board in Canvas! For those of you who haven’t visited it yet, this is a great place to ask us the many questions we know you all have. So keep them coming - we are excited to answer them. And don’t forget about the Academic Advising website, which is another wonderful place to get answers to your questions

Placement Tests & Diagnostics

All the placements tests and diagnostics offered by Stanford departments are now open and, if you are considering enrolling in any of these subjects this year, we encourage you to take the relevant test/diagnostic. These include Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Languages. (If you are not considering enrolling in Chemistry, Physics, Math, or related subjects this year, you do not need to take the diagnostics/tests.) 
As a reminder, your placement test/diagnostic results will be private - only the relevant departments will see them, and they never appear on your transcript. No matter what your high school preparation, taking a placement test/diagnostic can help you make sure you enroll in a class that’s at the right level for you, neither too easy nor too hard. So don’t be afraid to take them– think of them as a useful tool to help you figure out what the next step in your learning journey should be. Taking the placement test/diagnostic does not commit you to enrolling in any of the courses.
If you will take them, plan to complete the tests and diagnostics by the end of August, so you can discuss your results with your academic advisor and begin planning your Autumn schedule. For Chemistry in particular, the introductory courses (Chem 31A and 31M) are only offered in the Autumn. 
Photo of the six OCs wearing NSO caps with the 2022 NSO logo (Photo credit: NSO)

The OC Zone & New Student Thursdays

The OCs are getting ready for NSO! Here is the last set of blog posts from your lovely Orientation Coordinators (OCs):

OC Blog

New Student Thursdays
This week, the OCs will be chatting with you about Extracurriculars at our weekly webinar.  All are welcome, Find the Zoom link in Canvas and join us!
Contact Us
Office of Academic Advising
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
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