Andrew Whipple

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How To Graduate Stanford (Technically Speaking)

Published 1/17/2017

I graduated from college recently. And along with all the usual terrors of being a semi-functioning adult in the real world, I also had this issue: what do I do with all the electronic connections and documents that are tangled up with my old school?(1)

In the time-honored tradition of "I did the Googling so you don't have to," I figured I'd document the stuff I discovered for posterity, and in case future Stanfies(2) have questions. And yes, as a note, this will be geared exclusively towards how to deal with Stanford's system, for undergrads, and I can only guarantee that it was accurate as of the class of 2016. Mileage may vary.


By graduation you're probably very familiar with Axess, the main admin portal for all things Stanford-related. Post-graduation you'll mostly need to interact with Axess (if at all!) for retrieving records and documents, be they 1098-T's or transcripts or housing records or whatnot.

Fortunately, you're fine! Your Stanford login works on Axess no problem. Most features (adding classes etc) are gone but all the document retrieval and such can still be done in the usual, overly cluttered way you've learned to love.

Again, I can only guarantee that my account lived up to time of writing, so there may be a moment when everything is purged from the system, but if so I've seen no indication of when that would be.

Google Stuff:

So official academic documents and records are out of the way, you probably are starting to think Google. Stanford, at least as of now, is heavily invested in the Google apps ecosystem, so a lot of your stuff (especially the stuff you interacted with on a day-to-day basis in classes and extracurriculars) will be in Google land.


So you have your email address, ``. For the last few years you've been using that for all sorts of communication, be it coordinating rehearsal times with your dance troupe, or that one time someone sent a hilariously angry email at 3am to the couple having a very loud amourous encounter in the room above them.

There are two main things you might want to do with your email address:

  1. Keep all of your old emails from your time at school
  2. Make sure any new emails you receive are still readable.

Both are doable!

Note: This is one of the few things that has a strict timeline, so you want to make sure you take care of any email steps as soon as you reasonably can after graduation.

Your `` email account will live on, without any issues, for about 4-5 months (I believe October 15th was the deadline my year?) Up until this point it's exactly the same as it was while you were a student.

After that deadline, your account switches and it will only forward any new mail to an address you specify. That means if me, Andrew, were to email your old Stanford email address, you'd get that message forwarded to a new mailbox! Neat!

However that's it. It's just a forward, and just for new messages. You can't log in to your old email account, can't read or download old messages, can't see your contact list, and can't send email from that old account.

It's like if you move apartments and set up mail forwarding for your old place: if someone sends a letter to the old address, it'll make it's way to the new one, but you can't go dig around in your old mailbox anymore.

This forwarding will happen for two years. I believe that's two years after you graduate, not two years after your account flips to forwarding mode, but I'm not positive on that.

All of this is the only reason you need to do any of this junk, because if you just got to keep your old email that'd be awesome and you could just use it forever. No such luck.

Anyway, remember, two tasks you may want to do:

  1. Keep all of your old emails from your time at school
  2. Make sure any new emails you receive are still readable.

Let's tackle part 1:

Keep Old Emails

This is going to tell you how to transfer all of your old emails into a new mailbox. Once this is done you can log in to the account you chose and search and find all your old emails as if they had been sent there in the first place. If you don't want to do that (maybe you just want a few key messages, or you want them as downloaded documents rather than emails) feel free to skip or modify this!

  1. You need to do this step before your account goes into forwarding mode. Remember, once it hits forwarding mode, you're locked out of the old one forever.
  2. Open up a mail client like Apple Mail, Outlook, or some hipster nerd app like Spark or Airmail that allows you to log in with multiple emails at once.
  3. Log in with your `` email address.
  4. Pick the account where you want your old emails to live, or sign up for a new one if you don't have any extra accounts. We'll call it ``, but replace that with your actual email address.
  5. Log in with `` to your mail client. You should now have both inboxes up in the same mail client.
  6. Open the inbox for `` and select about a month's worth of emails.
  7. Drag and drop them over into the inbox for `` (this is how you do it in Apple Mail; it may vary in other clients.)
  8. After they all copy over, open `` and check that they're there! If so, yay!
  9. Repeat that step until all the emails are transferred over.

Note: At least in Apple Mail, if any action interrupts the transfer of emails even for a second, the whole batch will fail, so if for example your computer falls asleep or the wifi stops working or what have you, you'll have to start from the beginning of the batch. I suggest using batches of 1 month because for me that was the sweet spot between big enough to not have to do a million batches, but small enough that if one batch fails it's not the end of the world, and it was less likely to hit an issue that would make it fail in the first place.

  1. Yay! Now all your emails are available in the new account! Throw a party probably! A fun email party!

Get New Emails

I'm not certain whether this is as time-sensitive as retrieving your old emails, but still I'd suggest doing this before your email goes into forwarding mode.

There are two options for this, depending on one key decision: do you want your emails forwarded to your free `` account, or somewhere else?


  1. Claim your alumni email account.
  2. Done!


  1. DO NOT CLAIM YOUR ALUMNI EMAIL ACCOUNT YET. If you do this, it will automatically make that the forwarding email.
  2. Decide where you want your new emails to go, we'll (again) call this ``.

Note: For convenience I used the same fake name for this as for "Keep Old Emails", but there's no reason they have to be the same. Feel free to split your old and new emails however you'd like!

  1. Go to StanfordYou
  2. Hit "Change settings for account sunetID"
  3. Go to "Email"
  4. Enter `` as the email you'd like to forward to.
  5. Throw yet another email party!

I believe that you can then claim your alumni email account and it won't override your selection of email forwarding... but I'm not 100% on that. So tread carefully I suppose.

An important note about forwarding: Remember that after two years your old Stanford account will stop existing and the forwarding will stop. If anyone sends an email to `` they'll get the nasty auto-response that mailman couldn't find that account and it doesn't exist. So make sure you take whatever steps you need to tell people to stop emailing that account (or go to Mailman and change the email on any lists you care about.)

Google Drive

Sadly, there's no easy way to transfer the Drive stuff from one account to another like there is with email. You could theoretically share every document and such that you have from Stanf to a Google account of your choosing, then transfer ownership (if it's something you own)... but if you used Google Drive enough to care about saving your files you probably have too many of them for that to be a reasonable process.

But fortunately, there is a pretty easy tool to download a version of all the stuff in your Drive. It's called "Takeout."

  1. Log in to your Stanford google account.
  2. Go to
  3. You'll see a list with a whole bunch of Google services. Select Drive (as well as anything else you want to save, see below!)
  4. Hit "Next"
  5. Pick how you want your files to be stored (either as a .zip, .tgz, or .tbz. If you don't know, pick .zip.)
  6. Pick how big you want individual archives to be. Doesn't really matter what you pick, but 2GB is a perfectly reasonable default.
  7. Pick your delivery method. I chose "Send download link via email" and it worked fine.
  8. Wait for Google to make your archive and send it to you.
  9. Huzzah, you got all your shit! Download it, then do with it what you will.

As a word of warning, this doesn't give you your files as Google Docs or Sheets or Slides: it converts them to another format (defaults to Microsoft Office filetypes, so .docx for Docs, .pptx for Slides, etc.)

If you've ever tried downloading or exporting a Google Doc as a Word document, you'll know that besides losing obvious features (it's a static file now, not a thing on the internet anyone can edit) the conversion can be a little weird, so be on the lookout for that.

But if you want to maintain the content of the files, it's a pretty easy solution!

Google Calendar

Lol, I didn't use Stanford's Google Calendar like AT ALL. BUT don't worry, it's still exportable! Follow the steps for Google Drive above, and make sure that Calendar is selected. You should end up with your calendars as a .ics file which you can import into Apple Calendars or the Google Calendar for another account (if you don't know how, search and there's plenty of guides online how to import .ics into calendars.)

Everything Else Google

Follow the Google Drive steps, make sure the service you want is selected, and then once you get your archive mailed to you do with the data what you wish!


Stanford provides every student with their own AFS account which comes with storage space. Unlike Axess and Gmail and Google Drive, not everyone comes face-to-face with AFS as an undergrad.

If you encountered it at all, it's probably for one of three things:

  1. If you've ever logged into a library or cluster computer and created or saved a file, you're logging in with AFS and storing files in your AFS space.
  2. Computer Science classes often use it for development and assignment submissions (it's the file system and account that hooks you into the myth machines, for example)
  3. You can host your own website using it!

If you've never done any of the things above, you probably don't need to worry about AFS. If you have and want to make sure any files are saved post-graduation (or are curious and want to check if you've got stuff there) then here's what you can do.

If you're still on campus: Easy! Just grab a flash drive, log into a cluster or library computer, plug in the drive, and copy all your stuff. Shazam.

If you aren't on campus: You're still good! Here's how you grab your stuff through the magic of INTERNETS and SECURE COPY. Although first, as a note, this is gonna be a bit more technical than the other steps, so fair warning. This assumes you can find and use a Unix shell (specifically cd and ls) but nothing else.

  1. Open Terminal, if on a Mac, and any UNIX shell if on another system.
  2. In one tab/window, log in to your AFS space, using: ssh (replacing "sunetID" with, well, your sunetID.)
  3. Enter your password when prompted.
  4. ls and cd around and see what you've got on your AFS.
  5. In another tab/window, still on your home machine, cd to wherever you want to temporarily store your AFS stuff and then mkdir StanfordAFS. That'll give you a new folder to store all your junk. cd into StanfordAFS.
  6. Once you're in StanfordAFS, type this: scp -r . What you're doing is starting a "Secure Copy (scp)," telling to to be recursive (-r, aka "Keep going down into any folders you find,") and telling it to pull files from your AFS space (`, specifically the home directory,~) and bringing it *to* the current one on your home computer (.`) When you hit that, you should get a nice Matrix-y screen of files scrolling by as they're copied.
  7. Once it's done, check your folder and make sure everything you expect to be there is there. It should live in a folder called root. If it's all good, close your scp tab, and type logout in your ssh tab.

Now you've got all your AFS files! Hooray!

(As a note, there are other ways you could do this, but this is the way I chose because it doesn't rely on downloading or installing any software like OpenAFS.)

That's all that I remember having to transfer, but I'll be sure to update this post if there's anything that either comes up or that I forgot! And if you went through the graduating process and found something I missed, let me know and I'll update it and credit ya!

Whoo. Go adulthood, I guess.

-Andrew W.

*Updated 7/19: Just made it a heck of a lot cleaner and easier to understand.*

(1 ⤴️): Lol, bet you thought this article was about something else, huh?

(2 ⤴️): Note for non-Stanfies, exactly zero people other than me call us Stanfies. It's demonstrably not a thing. But I like it. Also, why are you reading this if you didn't go to Stanford? Isn't this incredibly boring?