Impressions Of
Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Experience

Female International Business and Marketing Double Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
I’m in mainly business classes, and a lot of the general education classes I’ve been in so far have case studies that talk about a situation that happened where a company had to make a decision and we’ll talk about whether we think the company made a good decision after we’ve read all the information pertaining to the case.

Is there anything that you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
The business program does a really good job with career counseling really well for specific aspects of my major. For me, it’s not very helpful because I want to go into the fashion industry and they don’t focus a lot on the marketing side of things. But, a lot of students come here for investment banking, accounting, and finance which they’re really good at providing opportunities and alumni to reach out to.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s pretty competitive, especially for classes that are graded on a curve. [It’s evident when you look at] the study habits of other students. Knowing that everyone is working as hard as they do challenges you to work harder because you know that if you do worse than them your grade will suffer.

Male Information Systems Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Over the past few semesters, it’s been more labs and projects. My major is really open so we can choose other classes to take. For the Business Administration minor and the Computer Science minor, there is always a weekly assignment. For Information Systems, we have a project due every three weeks right now.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
It’s great because the major’s really open to whatever you want to do. You can choose if you’re more interested in the business side or the computer science side. The downside is for some students, including me, it makes it harder to figure out what we want to do.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always been interested in computer science, but I knew that I’m more interested in the business side and want to go into consulting after school. I feel like my major is the perfect choice for that, so I’m very happy with my choice.

Female Statistics and Machine Learning Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very competitive. That’s not to say that there isn’t a great culture of collaboration here. The main difference between college and high school is that is that there might be competition in that everyone is looking for jobs and internships, but the difference here is everyone at this point knows that we are going to be successful in our own way, so there’s no point in being nasty to other people. Everyone actually tries to help each other and it’s really nice. We have a lot of resources on campus to help you where you need it. We also have teaching assistant office hours. I think it is a competitive school, and that may be because it is a STEM-focused school.

I will say one thing though is there is a stigma against students who are humanities majors just because they’re not super common because our curriculum is more computer science focused. I came in as a freshman as a Political Science major and that was something I was uncomfortable with just because other people don’t necessarily take kindly to that. They were like, “What are you doing here? Why aren’t you studying computer science?” So, I think there is a pressure to take Computer Science courses. Personally, it worked out really well for me personally, but others should keep that in mind.

Social Opportunities

Female International Business and Marketing Double Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I don’t go out that much. Last year I went to some frat parties. They’re really easy to get into, you basically just have to know someone who knows someone who knows someone in the frat. Everyone is super friendly here. The school’s so small that a lot of the people who go out all know each there so it’s nice that every time I want to go somewhere I usually know the people there or know who’s hosting it.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Our Greek life is super different in that being in Greek life is a small aspect of who you are here. CMU prioritizes academics so much that your major is your first defining factor of who you are. Greek life is a side thing that you do. We don’t really have tiers of frats because everyone is super individualistic and the frat boys here are really sweet. CMU isn’t a super party heavy school so even when frats have things, they aren’t the ragers that you might expect from a regular frat party.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Carnegie Mellon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’d like it if the bars and clubs were better or there were more of them it’d be nice. Otherwise, I don’t go out too much so it doesn’t affect me too much. For someone who doesn’t prioritize that stuff, I’m fine with it. But, I know there are people who have chosen not to come to CMU because they heard it’s a really lame school. If you’re trying to find things to do, you can find them. I think it’s perfect for someone who will go out but doesn’t try to go out all the time.

Male Information Systems Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I tend to go to a friend’s house and hang out there. Maybe I’ll go to a few bars and frats from time to time. It depends on the weekend. I’ll go out on Friday and Saturday night and, if I go to bars, I go to Wine Wednesdays or Thursdays. It all depends on how much work people have and how many people are free the next day. If we don’t have a lot of time, we don’t tend to plan stuff.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
A lot of people, mostly freshmen, tend to go toward that nightlife at first and it’s a hub for the first semester. But, slowly people divert away from it. At least in the circle that I’m in, Greek life isn’t that big. We’re just not that into that scene anymore and our freshman dorms are right next to the frat houses so they can easily go over there. [About 18% of undergraduates are involved in Greek life.]

How happy are you with the weekend options at Carnegie Mellon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wish there were more options for people under 21. Bars are pretty popular and, as you get older, you realize how much more there is to do than staying around CMU.

Female Statistics and Machine Learning Major C/O 2021

What kind of nightlife do you like to participate in?
There’s definitely a big Greek life social scene, but you don’t have to be involved in Greek life to participate in Greek parties. There is also a lot of stuff that happens on campus. [It’s common for clubs] to have a scavenger hunt on Friday night, which is nice. I don’t go out too often because I’m a lot busier this semester. We have Greek life parties and kickbacks every week. If I were to go out, I’d go out on a Sunday.

What have been some of your favorite times at Carnegie Mellon?
We have two annual events called Booth and Buggy. They both take place during our Carnival weekend in April. Booth is when organizations get together to build a building in five days that has to comply with international building regulations, which means running water, electricity, and it has to be structurally sound. Buggy is when people build a seven-foot carbon fiber and race buggies I’m a mechanic, so I’m really involved in the building of the buggy.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Carnegie Mellon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with it. I think for how small our school is we do a pretty good job with having a really active Greek life population. I was actually briefly involved in Greek life my freshman year but dropped because it was a lot of money and time. Most of the parties on campus are hosted by Greek life. I think it’s a good culture because people focus on their school work and work really hard and then go out. Work hard play hard is really embodied here.

Campus Culture

Female International Business and Marketing Double Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the overall social scene?
Like 60% of students you’ll probably never meet because they don’t show their face outside of class. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I feel like there’s a hidden community of students that just work all the time and have their own little group of friends. I’ve never met them because they’re busy all the time. With the people who do try to go out, if you are one of them then you probably know all the other ones because it’ll be the same people. That’s mostly people in Greek life and a few people who are not in Greek life.

How would you describe the student body?
Pretty much most of them who are here are here for academics. They’re all very intelligent and they value that a lot. If people look down on you, it’s because they’re in a better major. We have a social hierarchy of majors, so Computer Science is the top and then all the engineering and all the STEM stuff, then passed that is business and then the humanities. While other schools have social hierarchies based on Greek life or something, here it’s just about your major because people think that determines how intelligent you are.

Male Information Systems Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the overall social scene?
There are quite a few different social scenes. There are the people who continuously work, but you don’t see them much on campus because they just go back to their room, so that eliminates you seeing those people. There are quite a few people in Greek life who are very sociable but I personally don’t see them out very much either. For us, the dancers specifically, our schedules tend to be different because of practice so we’re always up late in some of the buildings while nobody else is there, so the people who are also in those buildings that late dancing is who we generally interact with.

How do you like the size of Carnegie Mellon in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that influenced your experience? [There are about 6,400 undergraduates.]
It certainly brings a lot of people closer together. If the student body were bigger, I don’t think I would be as close to the people I am now. It’s a con too because you see the same people everywhere and it’s rare to meet new people. Because it is small, people tend to group off and do their own thing. Some of my friends have been going out to the University of Pittsburgh and trying to get to know people there, so there are ways around that.

Female Decision Science Major C/O 2018

How would you describe the overall social scene?
Some people focus on work all the time and don’t want to talk with people. What you find is the people willing to speak to you are passionate and friendly and are also willing to help you if you are struggling with something. Overall, people are very nice there are plenty of things to do on campus not drinking related.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
Carnegie Mellon is pretty diverse in all aspects. People are super willing to talk about the issues at hand, such as sexuality or racial differences. Sometimes these different groups will form groups, but there are also lots of mingling between the different types of people. [In 2017, about 26% of the undergraduate population was White, about 29% was Asian, about 23% were international students, and about 4% were Black.]

Pittsburgh, PA

Pros of

  • “Pittsburgh is a growing hub for companies. That allows students more opportunity for internships and jobs.”
  • “Pittsburgh is a very culturally diverse city.” [The population of Pittsburgh is about 65% White, 22% Black, and 6% Asian with strong Indian and Chinese communities.]
  • “There’s a lot to do in and around campus. Pittsburgh is known for its food scene and there are other cultural attractions.”
  • “Carnegie Mellon is in the city but still has its own campus so you have the feeling that you are at a university and on a campus.”

Cons of

  • “The weather. The weather is unpredictable and is always really gloomy. If CMU would be in a warmer and sunny spot, I think people would be happier when they do work. There are only two or three weeks at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year where we have good weather.”
  • “The weather is not great. There is a lot of snow and flooding.” [In 2018 Pittsburgh experience over 40 inches of precipitation, over 10 inches the national average.]
  • “Traveling to Pittsburgh is rough because there are not a lot of direct flights.”
  • “Sometimes downtown you don’t feel the safest at times, but this comes with being in any big city.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Male Statistics and Machine Learning Major C/O 2022

What is something you wish you knew about Carnegie Mellon before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how cold it was going to be because I did not pack enough jackets.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
You don’t get a chance to explore the neighboring communities and some of those spots are some of the best things. There’s Schenley Park and the Botanical Gardens that you don’t get to see because a visit is so short. You also don’t get to experience the culture of Pittsburgh, but if you come and stay for a longer time, you get a glimpse of that.

Female Statistics and Machine Learning Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Carnegie Mellon before entering as a freshman?
Just that I wouldn’t be staying a Humanities major. I think that’s a big thing that may have affected my decision of whether or not to come here, but ultimately, I think I’m happy with my choice.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The Number Garden. It’s just a really, really beautiful place.

Female Decision Science Major C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew about Carnegie Mellon before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew immediately how diverse the school is in thought and perspective, in addition to race and culture. I wish I took advantage of all the discussions available. I wish I understood how nice it is to find friends that are from different cultural backgrounds. [About 22% of students are international, about 29% are Asian, and about 25% are White.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are definitely some cool buildings that don’t show it from the outside. The Gates Center for Computer Science is a new building with a helix in the middle and is something that stood out to me while visiting. There is a bridge that links this building and the drama building which is symbolic for a bridge between the arts and sciences.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Carnegie Mellon University

To Attend

  • “Opportunities for employment. A lot of companies reach out to CMU and it’s very well known.” [In the Class of 2018, only 6% were seeking employment when surveyed.]
  • “The people are the best. They’re different from what I expected because there aren’t a lot of social groupings and anyone can be friends with anyone even if they are seemingly very different. I have a lot of friends with different personalities that I didn’t expect to get along with. The individual personalities here are really, really cool.”
  • “Carnegie Mellon really stresses the interdisciplinary nature of its academics and gives you a well-rounded experience, as opposed to giving you one path you have to follow.”
  • “There are a lot of resources available to you for you to get involved with. You can get involved with your passions and also take time to explore what you want to do.”

To Not Attend

  • “If having a good social scene is really, really important to you, then maybe don’t come here. I think it takes a particular type of person to enjoy it here. It’s definitely not a super social school and I know people who have transferred out because of that.”
  • “Price.” [Total fees for the 2019-2020 academic year are $74,491.]
  • “Don’t attend if you’re planning to go purely into the Humanities in my opinion. I don’t think there are a lot of opportunities here for pure Humanities students, the school caters a lot towards STEM students.”
  • “If you’re not into Pittsburgh or are not into traveling to Pittsburgh. A lot of people I know are very anti-Pittsburgh because of the cold, transportation issues, and being far away from home.”
Notice: Carnegie Mellon University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Carnegie Mellon University.

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