New Undergraduate & Graduate Students

Financial Aid Advice

FAQs for New Students

  1. When should I come to Stanford (exact or approx dates) so that I can plan accordingly?
  2. Should I start to learn cooking or would it be better to dine at dinning halls?
  3. Which route I should follow while coming to San Francisco airport? I mean which airline and path?
  4. What kind of things I should bring with me?
  5. How much amount should I bring with me for initial expenses?
  6. What is the whole issue with INS and special registration when flying into or outside of the US?

FAQs for Undergraduate Admissions

  1. How strong is Stanford's reputation in engineering especially in electrical and computer engineering?
  2. What is Stanford's repute in job market in USA? please tell in terms of computer engineering?
  3. Is there any co-op option in engineering? Are there internships? if yes how do they work?
  4. How is the faculty? Are the professors cooperative towards the students, how is the atmosphere?
  5. Are there any jobs, summer jobs or University jobs? Are there any scholarships? Can we take loan, aid from University or anywhere after getting admission? Anything that can help me out.
  6. Please would u tell me what would be the difference in applying for summer 2002 and spring 2003?
  7. What kind of SAT and TOEFL Scores Stanford is looking for?
  8. What are the conditions after September 11? How do people treat us? Is their attitude hostile and are the things calming down?
  9. Is there a strong Pakistani community in the University and city?
  10. About SAT-1, could guide me in some way? What pattern should I adopt in its preparation? Books to be used, study routine etc.
  11. Taking SAT2s does help right? Even if I donít get a very good score in the subjects.
  12. Can you tell me what qualities the admission committee will be looking for in my admission application?
  13. What is considered a good score in SAT 2 subjects?
  14. How many credits can a person earn maximum in one year, and if u could give me a general outline of the way in which the credits are earned?
  15. What is the application deadline for the semester in Jan?

Financial Aid Advice

Scholarships
  • State Bank of Pakistan: Stanford is one of the qualified universities for the scholarships offered by the State Bank of Pakistan. For more information, visit http://www.sbp.org.pk/scholarships/index.asp.
  • Higher Education Commission: Overseas Scholarship Scheme for PhD in Selected Fields. Visit http://www.hec.gov.pk/overseas/
  • Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST): http://www.most.gov.pk/

Research & Teaching Assistantships at Stanford

There are several opportunities for getting a Research Assistantship (RA) or a Teaching Assistantship (TA) at Stanford for Pakistanis. Below is an account of comments written by various graduate students based on their experience.

  1. Be persistent
  2. Look for TA in EE, CS, Physics and Maths department. Physics often needs TAs for electronics labs.
  3. Look beyond the department for an RA if you cannot find it in the department e.g. look in SLAC (Stanford Linear accelerator) and Gravity Probe. Those people are always looking for RAs. There are other non-teaching departments in university that hire RAs.
  4. EE department has a big presence in medical school that is not very visible. Look at http://ee-www.stanford.edu/ (click on Faculty). Go to all those professors who have courtesy appointment in EE. They often have projects that need EE students.
  5. Make your mind up if you want to stay for PhD or MS. Professors like hiring PhD students as RAs. However department likes hiring MS students as TAs and graders.
  6. Keep visiting department asking for TA every two weeks even if you have been turned away. Department will appreciate your persistence and good work.
  7. Arrive early and talk to professors. If possible read their research work and try to comment on their research. It leaves a very positive impact on professors if you are aware of what they are doing. Also talk to senior students in their research groups. Educate yourself about professors interest and Keep visiting every month unless you get in.
  8. Some times signing up for an independent study with a professor can lead to long term relationship.
  9. Like anywhere else there are professors not worth pursuing. Always ask fellow or senior students about professors reputation on student treatment.

(Comment by Jawad Nasrullah, PhD Student, Dept. of Electrical Engineering)

Almost 80 to 90% of the grad Pakistanis, in Engineering School, are on financial aid. However its very different from undergrad. Mostly financial aid is in the form of Teaching assistantship (TA) or Research assistantship (RA). There are two ways to get TA/RA, through the department or search on your own. To get it through dept.. you can apply at the time of admission or once you have been accepted. However most of the people don't get through the dept because

    1. opportunities are less
    2. most professors want PhD commitment/admission.

The second way is to search on your own. There are many opportunities outside the department like SLAC (Stanford linear Accelerator), SRI (Stanford Research Institute) and other departments within Stanford. The chances of getting RA/TA depends how much you struggle.

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)

Getting a TA directly here is very competitive. Every teacher has a different style here and they usually want that either a person has taken the same or a more advanced course here at Stanford for which they'll be doing their TAship. Grad students who have done more advanced courses do get TAs. For RAship, there are two types of RA. In one type of RA a person gets to work in a research group with a professor and usually its only possible after passing qualifying exams (exceptions do apply depending on the department) The other types of RA including different types of work in different departments of Stanford. RA's used to be available abundantly but due to recession lately they are hard to come by. However, one needs to try one's luck and consistently try and there is no assurity of getting it. So one can't count on an RA before coming here, though it is possible to get it in the first quarter too.

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)

Once he/she is on-campus, he/she needs to find an assistantship to support himself. at stanford, there are plenty and finding one is not considered a problem. unfortunately that's not the case at other universities. sometimes a student is not able to find an assistantship for the first quarter or two and has to support himself. One should come prepared for it should that happen. most grad students i know take this chance...some get lucky, others don't. as for ta/ra ships, some students get it in their first quarter, most get it in the second at least. there may be some who don't get it, but i haven't seen that happening a lot.

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)

I think generally Pakistani admits in EE/CS department do not get financial aid at admission time. Every body who needed aid in the first quarter came here 0.5 - 1.5 month earlier and started searching for RA/TAships. If he was lucky enough and had skills for the job he got it otherwise some ppl got it next quarter or so on and so forth. Applying for financial aid does'nt hurt just mention you'll come to stanford any ways if you don't get it. About how difficult is to get TA/RA. The appropriate answer is "its not easy". However if you have will and determination to goto peoples offices, meet them, be persistant and don't get disheartened by them not offering you a job at that time then inshallah you'll get it sooner or later depends on how willing you are. However its harder to get RA these days then it was about 2 years ago. Being persistent is the key.

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)

... getting a TA/RA depends entirely on the person's own ability and the effort you put into searching for one. Most people usually get an RA (TA's are difficult to find in EE/CS in particular however a number of Pakistani students held TA positions in EE department in the past) ...

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)

... so you have to do a TA/RA. and as far as I know, everyone who looks for an RA gets one within the first two quarters. but you have to look hard.

(Comment by anonymous graduate student)


Frequently Asked Questions for New Students

Following are FAQ from new Pakistani Stanford admits coming here. Each faq follows with reponses written by different Stanford students based on their experience.

Q1: When should I come to Stanford (exact or approx dates) so that I can plan accordingly?

Response #1:
If you are looking for financial aid and want to try for Teaching/Research assistantship, i would suggest arrive atleast two weeks before the start of quarter.

Response #2:
It depends on the housing availability. One thing you do not want to miss is the on-campus housing. There are many options for on-campus housing, choose whatever suits you. You will be guaranteed housing so you can apply as a group with another student roomate(whois not guaranteed housing) and ask for summer housing sharing in return or something like that. If you want to come early and housing is not available you can send an email to Pakistanis at Stanford and see if someone is willing to share temporary housing with you.

Q2: Should i start to learn cooking or would it be better to dine at dinning halls?

Response #1:
For Grad students dining halls are avlbl, but they are (a)much more costlier (b) time wise inconvenient (c) halal meat problem. Its just nicer to be at home, cook whatever you want to at home using your own pakistani spices, and then eat at home in the company of friends or something. So he may be better off learning how to cook. its really not hard and recipes are available on the net. If he has a car and gets the license for here, he can always go out to eat which is still cheaper than dining halls. and if he doesnt get campus housing for his second yr, then he will have to probably cook.

Response #2:
Most dining services are for undergraduate students, however graduate students can also join. If you are ok with eating non zabiha meat/chicken (its a long debate, whether its ok or not) then you can join dining services otherwise you will have to cook your own. I think there is one undergraduate dining hall which serves halal food. There is hardly any graduate student who cooks regularly, mostly eat out or bring half cooked eatable items. I don't think its too important to learn cooking before coming.

Response #3:
It is a very good idea to know some level of cooking. Also be very clear on your definitions of what you consider Halal or Haram, you will find people here debating on petty details like that. Restricting yourself more means making life more challenging. All muslims here consider Pork and Alcohol haram without dispute. Some believe beef and chicken killed by christians and Jewish to be halal as well however some strictly consider animals killed by muslims to be halal only. Your definition/choice may or may not limit you to cooking yourself or few eat out options. In any event it is more economical to cook yourself however it can be time consuming and time wasting.

Q3: Which route I should follow while coming to San Fransisco airport? I mean which airline and path?

Response #1:
There are two routes:
i) via pacific [thru bangkok/china/vietnam/japan/etc] which is usually cheaper
ii) via atlantic [thru abu dhabi/dubai and new york/amsterdam/london] which is usually more expensive unless he gets a good deal on it - i have been able to get a $1000 deal on the atlantic route once in the past... by the way, its cheaper to buy the tickets from pakistan...

Response #2:
Stanford is the farthest place from pakistan :) its same whether you come from east or west. i have seen most people coming from Singapore or Emirate Airline, however take whatever suits you, both fare and timing wise.

Response #3:
I like saving money so I prefer China Air or Eva Air. However Emirates or United Airlines can usually bring you here through europe in same price and their service is very good. The best airline to come here from Lahore is Singapore air but it is slightly expensive. People from Islamabad also like combination of Virgin Atlantic/PIA or British Air/PIA through London. PIA through NewYork can also be good. Also think about buying a return ticket that is vlaid for 12 months. One-way tickets cost only slightly less than retun tickets.

Q4: What kind of things i should bring with me?

Response #1:
most daily usage items in pakistan r available here, one can bring stuff from home for emotional reasons but as such there is no practical need to. here are some personal recommendations.

  • janamaz, quran pak etc
  • pakistani clothes
  • family pictures
  • room decorations like maybe a small carpet, wall hangings etc
  • non pakistani clothes but not too many - rest can be bought here
  • some shoes but not too many - rest can be bought here
  • light sweaters as stanford is not that cold - clothes are better quality and cheaper in pakistan anyway - but he will probably feel like buying clothes from here when he gets here anyway
  • a backpack, but he will probably want to get a stanford backpack as soon as he lands here anyway :)
  • software cd's and music or video cd's - much cheaper in pak and can't really get that kind of variety here..
  • pakistani drama's or movie cassettes to watch at free times with friends...if he likes...
  • spare contact lenses, eye glasses - over here need prescription.
  • things like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, moisturiser etc but in small quantity as can be bought here
  • no blankets etc as that must be bought here.
  • no bed sheets etc b/c bed sizes here are different and they are cheaphere anyway
  • a set of cups n cutlery n plates n pots and pans and cooking spoons etc they are much cheaper in pak and it feels good to be cooking in made in pakistan utensils :) also the quality of pakistani utensils is great.
  • no electrical stuff as voltage here is different - but bringing things like wrist watch, calculator, etc is ok..
  • no stationary - maybe a couple of pens and pencils but not too much as stationary here is nicer and not that expensive
  • food items in canned state but they'll ask him at customs here and the stuff might be taken away..
  • otherwise whatever one personally likes that he knows wont be available here easily....cultural items or emotionally valuable items...things like that...that wont be available here...

Response #2:

  • jeans/t-shirts, thats what you wear the most. You hardly need any formal clothing.
  • if you plan to cook bring some utensils.
  • things of basic need, so that you don't have to spend money on them.
  • I would suggest not to bring eatables, US customs have strict rules.

Response #3:
A number of essential items like bedding and kitchen items can be rented from Loan Closet (in the basement of Abrams Midrise building inEscondido Village) for the duration of Stanford stay at a very nominal fee. Bring every thing else you may need.

Q5: How much amount should I bring with me for initial expenses?

Response #1:
About a 1000 dollars minimum, this is for travel emergency, buying initial groceries and things, buying a bike, having some cash in hand, buying first quarter's books and other small things, eating out for the first few days etc...but i have known people who came here with about 300-500 as well..it depends on how well of a money manager he is...

Response #2:
depends how much period you classify as "initial". Eating expenses vary from $250 to 400 per month.

Response #3:
Difficult to answer. It depends on personal situation. I have seen people coming here with few $100 to $100,000. I would think 10,000 will be sufficent but also think about tuition fee and stuff. You need to think about finances very very carefully. That is the last thing you want to go wrong with. Also be aware about Cash carrying laws of different countries you will be travelling through. When I came here, I had $2000 in cash.

Q6: What is the whole issue with INS and special registration when flying into or outside of the US ?

Please note that failure to comply with the U.S. special registration procedures may result in arrest, removal from the United States, or prevent your re-entry into the United States on future visits.  Check Bechtel International Center's website for detailed information. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/icenter/visas/student/travel.html  Also visit the U.S. Immigration and  Customs Enforcement website for information on registration requirements for students and aliens. http://www.ice.gov/graphics/enforce/imm/imm_sr.htm

FAQs for Undergraduate Admissions

Q1: How strong is Stanford's reputation in engineering especially in electrical and computer engineering?

Answer: Extremely strong. You can check the ratings for yourself on http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex.htm . It is a known fact that Stanford is among the best, if not the best, engineering college in the USA. For Engineering rankings see this page http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/eng/engindex.htm

Q2: What is Stanford's repute in job market in USA? pls tell in terms of computer engineering?

Answer: Exceptional. Besides, Stanford is located next to the Silicon Valley so Stanford students usually get hired there. These days though the job market is slightly less promising due to Economic crisis in the Tech sector but people are optimistic that within next year things will start getting better.

Q3: Is there any co-op option in engineering? Are there internships? if yes how do they work?

Answer: Stanford does not have a co-op program like some other colleges. Most good colleges don't have co-op programs. But if you need extra money, you can work part time on campus or you can do internships over the summer, which are usually very easy to get.

Q4: How is the faculty? Are the professors cooperative towards the students, how is the atmosphere?

Answer: Stanford CS faculty is among the very best in any American college. They are very cooperative, helpful etc. Atmosphere is very good academically and there is tons of help available from TA's and Professors. But you do have to work hard as the University has very high standards, so it is quite challenging.

Q5: As u know being a pakistani its not easy for my parents to pay fees for 4 consecutive yrs. Could u pls suggest me how can this burden be lessened. Are there any jobs, summer jobs or University jobs? Are there any scholarships? Can we take loan, aid from University or anywhere after getting admission? Anything that can help me out.

Answer: Definitely, it is not easy to pay that much. You can apply for financial aid when you apply to Stanford. It is true that for international undergraduates, your chances of admission are inversely proportional to the amount of financial aid you ask for but there are a lot of undergraduates from Pakistan with almost full financial aid. If you are a US citizen or green card holder though, your financial status does not play a role in your admission.

Stanford does not give any loans. All financial aid to international students is in the form of scholarships. However, some other colleges like Princeton do give loans, but not large amounts, to international students. Once you are at Stanford you will have many opportunities available to earn money. There is this thing at Stanford and other top US colleges where you can just stop your studies for some time, at any part(s) of your academic career for as long as you want and come back later. It is called 'stop out' at Stanford. Some people stop out to earn and come back to school, if they are faced with a financial crisis. Otherwise, you can always work in the summers. Finances aren't that big of a problem once you get in.

However, when you apply, you will have to claim to provide a cerain amount towards your education and they ask for proof of the fact that you are capable of paying that much. Once you are in though, you can always earn money yourself and contribute that towards your studies so that amount does not necessarily have to come from your parents.

Q6: Plz would u tell me what would be the difference in applying for summer 2002 and spring 2003?

Answer: As an undergrad you can only apply for the session starting in the fall. Some other schools allow students to apply during other quarters but not Stanford. So you the next session you can apply for as an undergrad will be the session starting Sept 2003, and the application deadline will be mid-Dec 2002.

Q7: What kind of SAT and TOEFL Scores Stanford is looking for?

Answer: The understood fact is that for most good US colleges, you should have atleast SAT-1 score of 1400 or above. For TOEFL, you need to have a score of about 600 for Paper based exam and 250 in Computer based exam. If you have a lower score you may get conditional admission in exceptional circumstances provided you take some extra english classes here. Also, all good colleges, even if they don't require SAT-2's, highly recommend them. So try to take the SAT 2 exams in any 2 subjects of your liking + English which is a compulsory SAT 2.

Stanford takes people after completing their A levels from Pakistan as that is what Stanford admissions personnel is familiar with. I personally have not seen anyone coming here after Inter but I think it might work out if you write to the admissions office explaining to them about what the inter system is, especially if the other things like SAT scores, school results, teachers recommendations and extracurricular participation are excellent.

Q8: What are the conditions after September 11? How do people treat us? Is their attitude hostile and are the things calming down?

Answer: As far as Stanford is concerned, nothing overall has changed after Sept 11. Infact people are more sensitive about Muslims and try to make more of an effort to be even nicer. There have been very rare isolated incidents of things like an anonymous hate email here and there but the university administration has gone beyond all extents to ensure that the Muslims are comfortable.

Q9: Is there a strong Pakistani community in the University and city?

Answer: Alhamdulillah, yes there is.

Q10: About SAT-1, could guide me in some way? What pattern should i adopt in its preparation? Books to be used, study routine etc.

Answer: For SAT preparation, practice is the key for math, and for Verbal there are two things: learning the vocabulary 3500 world meaning list from the Barrons book and practice as well. It is hard work but worth it. Try doing lots of practice tests from Barron's books, and if you can find them, get as many books as are available (Kaplan, Princeton review etc even the older version are ok) and just practice. Do timed sample tests as well. Make sure you properly understand all the small concepts they test in the Math section, as that way you can even get a perfect score.

Q11: Taking SAT2s does help right? Even if I donít get a very good score in the subjects.

Answer: When you apply to the colleges, check their websites. They should have statistics about the average SAT 2 scores for the entering class. It will also say whether a certain % of ppl did not take their SAT 2's. That should give you an idea.

Good colleges look at your SAT 2's. Above 700 is considered very good, above 650 is good. But you can learn a lot of the SAT 2 material before taking the exam and do well in it. Don't assume from before that you will not do well. For SAT 2 preparation too, I recommend the Barron's SAT 2 subject test books.

Q12: Can you tell me what qualities the admission committee will be looking for in my admission application?

Answer: There is no certainity or fixed criterion for that. Every college has their own way of measuring the qualities of the applicants. However, there are a few general pointers that maybe helpful.

  • High School GPA and/or A level results are deemed very important
  • There isn't a HUGE difference between 750-800 in Quantitative for SAT-I. So don't sweat if you couldn't get a perfect score in Math.
  • There are several applications with 600+ in Verbal. So 700+ in Verbal stands out.
  • The essays that you have to write for admission in Stanford are very important.
  • Recommendations count. Recommendations should qualify the claims that are made about a student. They shouldn't just say that this student is brilliant.
  • Rather they should cite some relevent examples to strengthen the argument.
  • Certain Key characteristics should be present in the person that should be apparent in recommendations. These include persistence, consistency, hard work, intellect, creativity / originality, promise and diversity.
  • Diverse interests that would distinguish your application from others are very important. Mostly people applying here are brilliant. You should be different in something that should appeal to them to take you in.
  • Good Luck (Absolutely Essential)

Q13: What is considered a good score in SAT 2 subjects?

Answer: 750 above is considered very good. and then by every 50 points, it gets one level less. However you should check the websites of the colleges you are applying to and they should have a chart of the avg SAT scores for incoming ppl. Compare yourself to them to gauge your level. Remember though if you are an international student (non green card holder or non Canadian or non US citizen), you will have to be among the top of the applicants, and if you are an int'l applying for financial aid then u will be in the most competitive pool of applicants.

Q14: How many credits can a person earn maximum in one year , and if u could give me a general outline of the way in which the credits are earned?

Answer: This again depends on the college, at Stanford an average undergraduate student earns 45 credits a yr by taking 15 units every quarter, barring the summer qtr. But other collges have it completely differently, but they should all have details on their websites about the exact method they follow.

Some colleges have semesters while others like Stanford have quarters. (3 semestrs in 1 yr = 4 qtrs in 1 yr....including summer for both cases) How it works is: If, lets say, a class is 5 units: that roughly means that there will be 5 hours in a week of lecture (actual in class time where the professor conducts the class).

Q15: What is the application deadline for the semester in Jan?

Answer: Actually, not all colleges have Jan applicants, only some do. Stanford doesn't. It's simple to check though, you can just go to the admissions website of the college and check out the deadlines. For the fall (sept) they are usually the previous dec or jan.