The Transition to Stanford: The Autumn Quarter Conversation

The Autumn Quarter is for many students a period of excitement, anxiety and change. When you meet with them midway through the quarter, you will want to gauge how they are handling their transition to Stanford. According to our annual Frosh Survey, over 70% of freshmen report struggling during their first year here; therefore, while there are a number of important themes you may want to touch on in your conversation, you can be tremendously helpful simply by normalizing the experience of struggle, and emphasizing that this IS a difficult time.

The Autumn Quarter Conversation

Talking about their recent experience

You may begin by asking questions about what they have been doing, as well as how they think and feel about it. Below are some questions that can open the door to talking about home, where it is, how they feel about it, and how they are talking to their family about their experience here at Stanford

  • What has already changed for you in the last few weeks?
  • How are you sleeping?
  • How do you like the dining hall food, and are you eating regularly and well?
  • What do you do to relieve stress? Are you getting any exercise?
  • Do you have people you talk to outside of class?
  • Where and when do you study?
  • What will/did you do for Thanksgiving Break?

Handling academics

  • Asking about classes is a good way to see how the student is settling in academically: How are classes going for you? Is there a class or class style you are finding you prefer more than others? Have you had any major assignments or midterms yet? How did they go? How are you feeling about that?
  • One potentially game-changing question is Did you get all your syllabi? If your student is unsure how to answer this question, you can follow up by emphasizing the importance of the syllabus, and offering to help interpret it.
  • How are you organizing and managing your time? is another fruitful question. Time management can be problematic for some students who may find it helpful and reassuring to hear abou thow you keep track of appointments and deadlines.
  • You may also want to ask Have you taken advantage of office hours? or Has your dorm scheduled faculty night yet? Encouraging your advisees to connect with their instructors may be the single most useful way you can help them thrive at Stanford.

Calibrating expectations

Another big question is: Has anything not met your expectations?  This question can allow students who are feeling dissatisfied or unhappy for some reason to speak and feel validated and less alone. Students who feel somewhat out of place often feel that they are the only ones and are afraid to share that after working so hard to get here.