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August 8, 2023
Photo of the Main Quad (Photo: Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service)

Dear Class of 2027,

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. And if you have any academic questions, post to the "Ask An Advisor" Q&A Board.
August Enrollment Holds: In addition to the "New Student Advisement" Enrollment Hold (released during NSO), frosh have two additional enrollment holds requiring the completion of action steps in Axess. Log into Axess now and complete:
Read on in the newsletter for:
Have a great week and reach out if you have questions!
Approaching Stanford Team
(650) 723-7674
Profile photo of VPUE Sarah Church (Photo: Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service)

From the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Dear Member of the Class of 2027,
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 can check your initial COLLEGE quarter placement at vcacollege.stanford.edu. If your plans have changed, see the timeline for requested changes and request a course change. 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 t he 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.
For questions, contact: collegereq@stanford.edu.

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 fulfill the first-year Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WR-1), as do ESF, ITALIC, and SLE. 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 at vcapwr.stanford.edu*. 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.
For questions, contact pwrcourses@stanford.edu.
*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)

IntroSems are small discussion-based and credit-bearing academic classes taught by esteemed and talented faculty and instructors from all seven schools at Stanford. These seminars are designed specifically for frosh, sophomores, and new transfer students. Expect to immerse yourself in learning and exploration communities formed around shared intellectual and creative interests on a particular topic. By enrolling in an IntroSem you might find a new interest, reaffirm your interest in a field, or, perhaps even more usefully, discover that you aren’t as interested in a field as you thought you were before taking prerequisites! Many IntroSems satisfy Ways general education requirements and all IntroSems are accessible regardless of prior background. With almost 200 IntroSems offered in 2023–24, you will have many opportunities to explore at least one topic that intrigues you.
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 applications 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 14th 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 interest. Then, exercise your priority by applying for up to three IntroSems each quarter at vcais.stanford.edu
Taking one IntroSem—or many over your first nine quarters at Stanford—can be a formative and unparalleled experience for you. When it comes to choosing IntroSems, let your curiosity guide you. Be you!.
For Autumn IntroSems, be sure to apply for priority enrollment by THURSDAY, AUGUST 31 at 4PM (PT),  before the long holiday weekend for Labor Day. Course status will be released during NSO.
In the coming days, watch your mailbox (your physical address for those in the US!) for the new IntroSems field guide with all the details, and deadlines, and the course listing for 2023–24.
For questions, contact introsems@stanford.edu, or beginning August 14, join the conversation on the IntroSems Q&A Board in Canvas.
Photo of Frosh 101 co-leads (Photo: Frosh 101)

Frosh 101

Transitioning to Stanford and its new social, cultural, and academic environment comes with all sorts of experiences and emotions. This new journey can bring about feelings of excitement, homesickness, worry, gratitude, and everything in between—all of which are normal parts of adjusting to college.
Frosh 101, now entering its seventh year, is a 1-unit, discussion-based, and student-led course designed to support you as you transition to Stanford's dynamic campus. Our Frosh 101 leaders are upper-class students who help build community and serve as “guides” for the first quarter, leading small groups of first-year students through weekly activities and conversations. This class focuses on creating space for you to establish friendships, gain advice, develop stress-management skills, thrive in a diverse environment, set goals, and reflect in your new community.
Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback from previous participants of Frosh 101, this course is offered in all frosh residences so that you can learn from and engage with members of your residential community. All interested students are welcome and encouraged to enroll. Fun fact: in Fall 2022, 54% of the frosh class participated in Frosh 101—come join our growing community!
For questions, contact frosh101program@stanford.edu or join the Frosh 101 & Transfer 101 Q&A Board in Canvas.
Grid with 8 boxes of graphics and names of each of the 8 Ways

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! 

Chemistry Placement Tests

The 2023 Chemistry Placement Tests are now open. If you are considering enrolling in chemistry this year, you should take the department’s placement diagnostic to obtain a Chemistry Coaching Plan that will direct you to the sequence of courses and resources that will set you up best for success in chemistry.
For access to all the placement assessments and detailed guidance from the departments, see
Because the placement assessments open before the course listings for the upcoming year are published, incoming students are often unsure whether to take any of the diagnostics/tests. Our recommendation is to take them! Take them, even if you have no idea what courses you might enroll in this fall. Your results will provide you useful information that you can bring to your advising meeting with your academic advisor. These placement results are private and used only for course placement purposes; they do not appear on your transcript. Moreover, taking the diagnostic/test does not commit you to enrolling in the recommended course; it just gives you more options when course enrollment opens.
Advising Video Series: Moreover, our fifth, and final, advising video is now available: Autumn Course Planning.  Here, we offer guidance on how to use the course catalog, considerations for choosing Autumn quarter courses, and some sample course schedules to help you get started with that planning. Be sure to watch all the videos in this series before your academic advisor sends their introductory email to you on August 21. In the meantime, if you have questions, you can post them to the "Ask an Advisor" Q&A Board.

Quick Links

Frosh Requirements
Transfer Requirements
To Do in Axess
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Contact Us

Office of Academic Advising
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
590 Escondido Mall | Stanford, CA 94305-3085 US
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