Widgets Magazine


No Free Lunch: Happier Campers

It’s spring quarter and the sun and 70-degree weather is hopefully here to stay. This means that if you live somewhere with seniors, or are one, you probably know someone participating in Camp Stanford. The formula is simple, no class plus a liberal addition of kegs, frisbees and fountains equals one hell of a quarter.

If you want a commitment-free quarter on the Farm you have two options. The first, if you want to be official about it or are finishing up a thesis or clearing incompletes, is to apply for a Permit to Attend for Services Only (PSO). For the bargain price of $3,900 you have the privilege of living on campus, using the gym and getting to wipe your academic record clear of incompletes. The second option is to graduate winter quarter and apply for a Post-Graduation Quarter (PGQ). Downside of the PGQ, no submitting a senior thesis, cleaning up your academic record or using the gym; upside, it’s free.

Both of these are great options for the select few who can actually complete all of the coursework required for their major before the spring quarter of their senior year. The people who can pull this off are usually those among us who were finishing off their four-year plan in 1st quarter freshman IHUM, transferred in a lot of credit from somewhere else or had some other special circumstance like attending summer quarters, and (not to start up the techie-fuzzy debate) probably aren’t receiving a degree that says engineering. Congratulations for getting done, and enjoy your quarter of relaxation.

However, the University’s all or nothing policy — requiring coursework to be either fully completed before spring quarter or for full enrolment — leaves everyone else stuck in some iteration of Camp Stanford wannabe. This usually looks like a real class or two to fulfill remaining requirements, plus a lot of fluff to get to 12 units.

Let’s say it’s winter quarter of your senior year. You’re well past the 180 units required to graduate, you’ve knocked out all of the University GER’s and for all intents and purposes you’ve completed your major except for that final pesky three-unit class that’s only offered in the spring. A real Camp Stanford experience is out — you have coursework that still needs completing. But now comes the interesting part: how best to get to 12 units. Let the racketeering begin. The class you have to take is three units, throw in a POLISCI seminar that sounds mildly interesting and meets Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours, and you’re at eight. Throw in Lifestyle Fitness Challenge for two units, Beach Volleyball for one, and Introductory Wine tasting for another one, and there are your 12 units.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s totally understandable to want to take as light of an academic load as possible your senior spring. But we’d bet that the world class wine tasting and yoga programs probably weren’t why most of us ended up at Stanford, and it seems wasteful to require academically apathetic seniors to try to find the easiest way to navigate past the minimum unit requirement. You end up with seniors taking on three or four units because they need to and eight or nine units because they have to.

So what’s the answer? Well a quick and easy fix would be to let 12th quarter seniors register like a graduate student for their final quarter at Stanford. This would lower the minimum unit requirement down to eight units and reduce the tuition rate from $12,900 for 12-20 units to $8,390 for 8-11 units, giving seniors a choice of how academically involved they’d like their final quarter to be. While this would be much better than the current system, it means a revenue loss for the University, so don’t hold your breath.

An even better solution would be to remove the minimum unit requirement altogether for 12th quarter seniors and simultaneously eliminate the Post Graduation Quarter. This means that every senior would be required to maintain their University services for $3,900 a quarter, and any academic credit they choose to enroll in would be billed by unit. We were unable to find the exact numbers on how many seniors choose which enrollment option, but we’d imagine that it would be something of a wash in terms of revenue — the gain from those graduating early and hanging around of campus would help to balance the loss from billing by the unit. Not to mention the upside of a lot happier and more productive seniors, doing what they need to do and not having to fudge the rest. Just ask the Development Office — tasked ensuring we all donate profusely to Stanford once we graduate — about the economic upsides of an entire graduating Stanford class having a better, sunnier, more laid back experience their last quarter on the Farm.


Prospective campers, contact Dave or Zack at daveg4@stanford.edu or zhoberg@stanford.edu.