Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Stanford University

So why is one of the world's most prestigious institutions of higher learning a "guilty pleasure"?  I'll explain.

My mother and I flew from Memphis to visit my father and his side of the family in San Francisco during the spring of 1985.  Seeing Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge (and Park), Lombard Street and the Santa Cruz mountains exceeded any expectations that a nine-year-old could have, but visiting the campus of Stanford University in nearby Palo Alto remains my most vivid memory.

Over the years I have read about the centuries-old colleges of the northeast, and I've come to appreciate schools such as Amherst, Dartmouth, Hamilton, Middlebury and Williams, just as the academic citadels of the Southland -- College of Charleston, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt, and Washington & Lee -- also stir no small sense of regional fervor in this unabashed Southern boy.  Yet a little something extra has persisted in my psyche from the day I visited the Leland Stanford, Jr. University a quarter-century ago.

Whether or not my obeisance to Stanford remains from a sense that I failed to make the most of my college experience is debatable.  But my post last December about Heisman Trophy voters snubbing a certain running back who just happened to lead the nation in rushing yards (1,871) and touchdowns (28) is directly attributable to having been a deeply closeted SU fan since adolescence.  Heck, I even follow head football coach Jim Harbaugh on Twitter.

I knew early in my high school years that Stanford's 3.7 GPA and 1400 SAT requirements, not to mention their 10% acceptance rate, put this fine institution well beyond my grasp.  Still I use Stanford's hex triplet [#990000] wherever red is seen on this blog.  (The Dartmouth green [#00693e] is also included as a subtle nod.)  It's just my little way of saying, I wish I could've been there.  Indeed it would have been nice to experience something like "Full Moon on the Quad," but I'll remain a devoted regardless, no matter how quixotic it might be.


Holly said...

My college guilty pleasure was Georgia Tech. While not as prestigious as Stanford, I visited there my junior year of high school and was wowed by how lovely, lively and full of nerds it was. It was also 80% male. Alas, they only give 100 merit based scholarships and don't look too kindly on out-of-staters for these, so I was out of luck. Ended up in an urban university anyways.

AMW said...

I neglected to mention my grandfather who had a nice place in Palo Alto at the time. He's an Atlanta native who played college football at Georgia Tech before a gruesome knee injury ended his playing days. I don't chat with him very often, but he still follows Tech football.