“We love the energy and excitement as several thousand new graduate students arrive on campus, starting a few weeks ago for new MD and JD students,” said Stacey Bent, Stanford’s new vice provost for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs. “Their diverse academic backgrounds and interests and their varied life experiences enrich our community.”
Bent said that participating in NGSO will help new grad students acclimate to Stanford’s unique environment. “Starting graduate school can be a big transition, especially at such a large campus like Stanford,” she said. “That is why Stanford goes to great lengths to organize NGSO. The resources and information available to new graduate students during this event are intended to help them ease into this new stage of their lives and set a solid foundation for their Stanford careers.”
In 2019, Stanford welcomed 2,607 new graduate students, including master’s, doctoral and professional degree students who entered 200 programs in all seven schools. Of that cohort, 1,396 (54 percent) were male while 1,211 (46 percent) were female, and they ranged from ages 20 to 66.
Among those numbers, 982 were international students from 101 countries, with being China the most represented country.
“Our theme this year is ‘home away from home,’ and I think this phrase really captures one of the goals we have for NGSO,” said Anni Zhang, a PhD student in chemical engineering and an NGSO coordinator. “We really want Stanford to feel like home over the one, five, maybe even 10 years [grad students] will spend here,” she said.
Organized by the Graduate Life Office, the NGSO week will include workshops from offices around Stanford, panel discussions by fellow students, a resource fair, networking opportunities and social gatherings.
For Zhang, NGSO was an invaluable experience that helped set the foundation for her life at Stanford.
“Through NGSO, I was introduced to a wealth of resources and student groups on campus,” she said. “Even if I didn’t use the resource or join the group right away, having the information on hand was super useful for the rest of my grad career.”
Featured NGSO events
Among the nearly 40 events that take place during NGSO are 101 Grad panel discussions. These information sessions feature returning graduate students sharing their experiences and wisdom about student life. They will cover topics such as food, housing, transportation and social life.
New grad students are encouraged to attend Meet VPGE, the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, which offers programming and resources that enrich students’ academic experiences. This event is a time to meet the staff and learn from current students about Stanford’s interdisciplinary environment.
The Starting Graduate School Right workshop is hosted by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), whereby an academic skills coach will present strategies to minimize obstacles, such as procrastination or feeling overwhelmed, and boost the effectiveness of students’ planning, reading and writing.
Making friends, building connections
Each year, NGSO organizers make a point to create opportunities for new students to meet other students. Building those connections is not just about growing one’s professional network but also about finding a supportive community in a new environment.
“Events such as NGSO really gave me a chance to meet people outside my department and find activities and groups where I could meet other students with shared interests,” Zhang said. “The connections [students] can make through NGSO help foster supportive communities and let them feel that they belong here at Stanford.”
Vice Provost Bent agreed, “We hope grad students are excited about NGSO and their local orientation events. And we hope their excitement persists as they immerse themselves in their courses and research, make new friends and collaborators, and explore all Stanford offers to support their academic success and personal growth.”
During NGSO, new grad students will have many opportunities to socialize with other students. New students interested in learning about the black community on campus are invited to attend a welcome event hosted by the Black Community Services Center. And students interested in learning about the Jewish community at Stanford are invited to the Hillel Jewish Grad Students BBQ.