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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

In Focus: Don’t Be a Duck! How to Resist the Stanford Duck Syndrome.  

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Transitioning back or for the first time to college life can be difficult. For some of us, this is our last year on campus after spending almost half of our college experience remotely. For others, this is our first time living away from our families and experiencing the rigor of college academics, extracurriculars, and social change. With the new academic year starting, it is easy to look around and see everyone effortlessly floating through their lives, making friends, excelling in all their classes, and having fun at parties, while you may be feeling homesick or the stress of college academics. You may feel out of place and lost, especially being away from home. This is not just any feeling– this is the Stanford Duck Syndrome. 


The Stanford Duck Syndrome is the idea that students are struggling to survive the pressures of a competitive environment while presenting the image of a relaxed student, like a calm duck gliding across a fountain. The truth is that it is an unrealistic expectation to have everything all together all of the time. Oftentimes, social media can be deceiving with people posting only the filtered version of their life and how they want to present themselves. As a result of this facade, we fall into this trap thinking that we are alone in this journey and that others aren’t feeling the same challenges of returning back to campus. 

We all go through ups and downs, and it’s important to acknowledge the obstacles and seek support rather than paddle furiously beneath the surface. Stanford has a myriad of resources to help support you throughout your journey, and reaching out is a sign of strength. By not pretending to be gliding through everything effortlessly, we can make more progress in ourselves and help others realize that it’s okay to feel these pressures and that they aren’t alone. We can learn to support one another by vocalizing our struggles so that together, we can work towards creating a supportive community of care. 

So, don’t be a duck! You belong here.


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