DOUGLAS: We have a grandson your age, he’s going through hell.

NATALIE: He’s already been turned down for early admission to Stanford, his dream.

Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California, in the San Francisco Bay area, ranked among the top universities in the world. It was founded in 1885 by US Senator and former governor of California Leland Stanford and his wife Jane, in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr, and opened in 1891 as a coeducational institution.

After World War II, the university’s provost, Frederick Terman, supported faculty and graduates to build a self-sufficient local industry that would later become known as Silicon Valley. It also houses the conservative public policy think tank, the Hoover Institution, one of the most influential of its kind in the world.

85 Nobel laureates, 29 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medallists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and have created 5.4 million jobs as of 2011, roughly equivalent to the seventh largest economy in the world.

Stanford has won more College Athletics team championships than any other university, and Stanford students and alumni have won almost 300 Olympic medals.

Stanford is the alma mater of US President Herbert Hoover, 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. Its alumni include the current presidents of Yale and MIT and the provosts of Harvard and Princeton. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

Stanford is one of the hardest universities to get into, with an acceptance rate of less than 5% – that’s tougher than both Harvard and Yale, and indeed, all the Ivy League universities. It’s perfectly believable that Douglas and Natalie’s grandson didn’t get accepted.

In real life, the deadline for early admission to Stanford is November 1, and notifications aren’t sent out until mid-December, so Douglas and Natalie’s grandson couldn’t really know he’d been turned down by Thanksgiving. (Although, if it is just before Christmas, according to the show’s actual timeline, this would make sense!).

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