Studying at Stanford vs. Aalto

Hi again!

After five weeks of studying here at Stanford, I think I finally have enough experience to say something about the teachers and teaching methods used here, and how they partly differ those of Aalto. These observations are based on my subjective and rather narrow view, as I have experience only from five courses here.

1) Teachers here tend to put their souls into lectures, present things in a lively and motivating way, and encourage discussion during the lectures rather than present a monologue. Teachers don’t fear to show how enthusiastic they are about the topics they are teaching. Compared to Finnish teaching culture this may seem occasionally exaggerated, but at least in my opinion it makes the lectures more interesting!

2) The course staff can be easily reached if student faces any questions or problems. For example, on one of my courses teaching staff arranges office hours five times a week! These office hours are times outside lectures or exercise sessions for students to ask questions related to the course. On other course we have multiple personal meetings with the teacher during the quarter. Teachers also reply to emails round the clock!

3) The courses basically consist of lectures, exercise sessions, homework, assignments and exams. Actual workload can significantly differ also here between two courses, even though they would be for the same amount of units. Course contents might be quite the same as in Aalto (thanks Arttu for this point), but the difference lies how things are actually taught.

4) Stanford has quite strict guideline, called the Honor Code (, concerning how students are allowed to cooperate and work together during courses. Violations of the Honor Code are taken very seriously, and in the beginning of many courses the allowed amount of cooperation is discussed. Open book exams may be arranged so that no one is watching students, as they are trusted no to break the code.  This approach seems quite different from that we have in Aalto. Copying is of course forbidden also in Aalto, but the attitudes towards violations are softer and the matter isn’t emphasized as much as here.

Overall the main focus is on learning and on every course the staff works hard to really support this goal!

P.S. Forbes ranked Stanford as the best college in the US! Read more from 


Oh, and finally a view from Hoover Tower over the campus to visualize what Tiina talked last time:

Posted by mikko

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