Letter to an incoming CS student

Dear incoming CS student,

Welcome to Stanford! Computer science is by far the most popular major here on campus (especially the AI/ML track), so you’ll find yourself in good company. With Hewlett and Packard coming before us and Silicon Valley surrounding us, it makes sense. Here, more than anywhere, you’ll find a community you can vibe with (though staying in your room will always be an option). Here, you’ll find the people to participate in hackathons with, interesting people in interesting research labs and a boatload of people dreaming of the next big AI-powered startup.

Some common CS experiences you can look forward to include TreeHacks, where the full force of the Silicon Valley “build and ship” culture coagulates. Fueled by boba, caffeine, sugar and snacks, you can pick up a new skill and dip your toes into the water, or showcase the amazing experiences and knowledge that you already have. You may soon find yourself grinding through homework in the Huang basement and discover the new boba place upstairs between office hours. You will be amazed by the sheer amount of effort the CS department puts in to make lectures entertaining (or end up as someone who decides that you’d rather just watch the recorded lecture on 2x speed at home).

Although Stanford is the best place on Earth to pursue CS (if I do say so myself), don’t forget that you can take a step back, since after all, you’re technically not even a freshman yet. You are also technically undeclared, which means that you should explore, explore, and EXPLORE before you commit to anything! While everyone’s talking about CS106A and CS106B, it can be hard to imagine that the Stanford experience is bigger than CS. But take a step back and remember, you’re at Stanford, which means that a world-class CS department is far from the only thing we have.

Explore creative writing, where you can learn from the Stegner Fellows (some of the best writers in America!) or enroll in SLE, and get the “liberal arts college” experience within the larger Stanford community (a personal plug! I highly recommend it). Spend your spring break in the Humanities Research Intensive and learn about what humanities research could look like. Or join one of the many clubs on campus spanning sustainability, politics and so much more! Swing by the Daily House and consider writing for us — we’re always open to new ideas!

It’s good to come here with goals, ambitions and a plan, but remember: There is still so much ahead. So consider symbolic systems or take a dive into the digital humanities — you may be surprised where some programming skills can take you here.

Have fun! Go Trees!

Welcome to Stanford!