Math, chemistry, English, and other subjects, once as separate as the contents of a pristine Lunchable, will become increasingly intermixed over the course of college. As your knowledge of one field grows, it expands into another field of study, and another – biology and chemistry turn into biochem, chemistry and physics meld into p chem, and then inevitably biology and physics into biophysics. For all you know, there might as well be biophysichemeconomusicommunicology.
Making the transition to a new level of education is exciting, stressful, and filled with unknowns. My 5th grade teacher tried to prepare us for the rigors of middle school by warning us that teachers would no longer be “holding us by the hand.” My 8th grade teachers gave a similar warning several weeks before we graduated to high school. Now, as many of you readers journey into the unknowns of college academics, I hope that I can give you an idea of what to expect in this upcoming stage of your academic life.
I’ve used the word “cool” to describe a lot of this experience, but after awhile, the many experiences Stanford has to offer inherently rings to the tone of amazement and wonder. Going to Stanford continuously feels like the experience of a lifetime that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. Often, I stop and contrast thoughts of what life would be outside of Stanford. It might not be that much different, to be honest—I wouldn’t know what I’d be missing out on… But having known Stanford, I wouldn’t change going here for anything.
Sheri Sheppard, a Stanford professor of mechanical engineering, has been named U.S. Professor of the Year for doctoral and research universities.
Thinking Matters courses are meant to help freshman students develop a sense for what constitutes a genuine question or problem and how to address it in a creative and disciplined manner. Through an emphasis on critical analysis, close reading, analytic writing, and effective communication, a liberal education enables students to make connections across many fields of study that will inform their future intellectual work and life after Stanford.