Jack Christian, ’19, plans to major in human biology at Stanford University.

Q: Why did you choose Stanford?

A: After getting accepted, I still left my applications to other colleges open because I really wanted to make sure I was going to get a good college experience. I wanted my college experience to be different than Country Day, where I spent 14 years of my life. So I considered lots of colleges all over the country, but I ended up choosing Stanford because of its size, school spirit and quality of education. And when I went to admit weekend, I knew that this was the place that I wanted to be my home for the next four years.

Q: Why do you want to major in human biology?

A: At Stanford, you don’t have to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year — I’m probably going to be a human biology major because I’m interested in med school. 

I’ll take the human biology core classes my entire sophomore year, and it integrates traditional biology and psychology, which makes a pretty cool major.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: Right now, we’re just finishing up winter quarter. For the winter quarter, I took Math 51, which was multivariable calculus and linear algebra. I also took Chemistry 31B, which is like the second half of general chemistry, and I’m taking a year-long EMT course as a part of my training to become an emergency medical technician. And finally, I took the freshman writing course PWR (Program in Writing and Rhetoric) 1.

Q: How big are your classes?

A: It varies, but my math class and chemistry class are usually around 100 people, my EMT class had 25 people and my writing seminars had 15 students. 

Q: How is your workload?

A: Winter quarter is a lot harder than fall quarter, and a lot of people, including me, took more units. I was enrolled in 20 units, which is the maximum load, so I had a lot of work and problem sets due throughout the week. On top of that, my classes had two midterms each, but it ended up working out fine. 

Jack Christian, ’19, (second row, second from left) and his friends “fountain hop” during New Student Orientation. (Photo courtesy of Christian)

Q: What is your favorite class?

A: That would have to be my EMT class. I haven’t really gotten to take fun classes because I’ve been taking my general education requirements and pre-medicine classes — a lot of STEM-related courses. 

But the EMT course is really hands-on, and the professors are great. They’re paramedics who have been in the field for a long time, so we get to learn a lot of cool life-saving techniques and how ambulance operations work. This quarter was our trauma quarter, so we learned a lot of things, from car accidents to how to make splints and apply cervical collars. The class is super fun, and I’m excited to become an EMT.

Q: What is your least favorite class?

A: Definitely math. This is the first time that I truly didn’t understand anything that was going on in the course. It’s so conceptual, and you have to think in different dimensions. It was very difficult for me, and it was a very intense, fast-paced class with five meetings per week. 

Q: How has the coronavirus outbreak affected your classes?

A: Our finals for winter quarter were made optional and then postponed because of the shelter-in-place order. All of our instructors emailed us our final class grades without the final, and then you could decide to take the final or not, which I decided not to take.

Additionally, the outbreak has taken my freshman spring away from me. I was looking forward to having fewer classes and spending more time with my friends, who are all now spread out across the country. 

It’s also going to mess up students’ classes they planned to take. I was planning on taking organic chemistry, but that’s probably going to get postponed until the fall quarter because you can’t do online labs. It’ll be a different learning environment taking classes at home, especially with my EMT course, which is really hands-on. 

Q: Are you involved in any clubs?

A: The biggest club I’m a part of is Dance Marathon. We raise money every year for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. We ended up raising around $70,000, which was great. Our fundraising culminated in the big Dance Marathon event, which is 12 hours of dancing — and you’re not allowed to sit.

Jack Christian, ’19, (center) and fellow Dance Marathon members fuel up on Yerba Mate during their 12-hour event. (Photo courtesy of Christian)

Q: After being an Octagon editor-in-chief, do you plan on doing anything design- or newspaper-related?

A: I have decided to end my newspaper and writing career. I still utilize my interviewing, design and writing skills through class projects and essays, but I am not part of the Stanford Daily.

Q: Do you see your former co-Octagon editors-in-chief Mehdi Lacombe, ’19, and Allison Zhang, ’19, around campus?

A: Surprisingly I don’t see them much. We all live in pretty different parts of campus and have different schedules and extracurriculars. However, I still remain good friends with Lacombe and run into him a few times each quarter.

Q: What is your housing situation like?

A: I’m in an all-frosh coed dorm — one of the 11 frosh college dorms. My roommate, Esteban, and I get along super well. We’re in a two-room double on a floor with coed bathrooms, and it’s been super great. 

I love my community. We’re all super close to each other, and I’ve made some great friends. We also have a lot of athletes in our dorm, so we can go support them at their games. We actually have two national champions, in men’s water polo and women’s soccer, on our floor of 25 people.

Jack Christian, ’19, (left) takes a surf trip to Half Moon Bay with his dormmates. (Photo courtesy of Christian)

Q: How was your transition to college?

A: Stanford is so unique and small that adjusting wasn’t too bad. Stanford is a lot like Country Day because I see people I know everywhere I go. There aren’t many freshmen out and about on campus anyway, and the dorm setup is very accepting and inviting, so I’ve made friends in that way. 

Q: Did you make any freshman mistakes?

A: No. I didn’t have a problem adjusting, so I didn’t make any mistakes.

Q: How has Country Day prepared you for college?

A: Country Day was the perfect place for me to attend high school to prepare for college. Everything from the writing skills to time management and self-care that we learn at Country Day has prepared me. 

For example, my freshman writing course (had) three papers, including a rhetorical analysis and research-based argument paper. I did both in my junior English class at Country Day. So as everyone says, the writing program at Country Day really helps you when you get thrown into college essays. 

I learned how to manage my work and how to form personal relationships with those around me, which has really helped me grow and succeed in a tough academic environment. 

Q: Any advice for the class of 2020?

A: Visit every school that you are thinking about attending, if possible. Make it a priority, because that’s when you can truly find out if that college is right for you. I was crazy and visited every school I applied to, which ended up being 34 schools, but I got a good feeling about those colleges from those visits. 

Every college will put their best attributes on their website, but you really have to talk to people on campus and experience the culture there. Visiting is really important because that’s where you’ll be spending the next four years, and you want to know what you’ll be getting into. 

Five-star or subpar?

Quality of classes: ★★★★★

Student/teacher interaction: ★★

Location: ★★★★

Food: ★★★★

Housing: ★★★★★

Social scene: ★★★★

Clubs: ★★★★

School spirit: ★★★

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