Agnes Scott College
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private Jewish day school in Carmel Valley, California with 48 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Majors: English Literature – Creative Writing and Sociology & Anthropology double major
Extracurricular Activities: I was part of the Student Ambassador Lunch Team, I was part of Admission Student Recruiters, I [had a leadership position] in Hillel and the Aurora literary magazine. I’m also in [the Student Government Association (SGA)] and was part of [the Coalition of Student Multicultural Organizations (COSMO)].
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I’d say [having a leadership position] in Hillel and serving on SGA have been impactful. Coming from a pretty vibrant Jewish community in the San Diego area and growing up going to a day school, going to a very small college that didn’t have a large Jewish population was a big transition. I knew it was going to be there, but I didn’t know how intense it was going to be. Hillel allowed me to understand what I needed as a Jewish student, person, and woman. It helped me provide that for myself and reach out to other community members and Agnes students and structure things how I needed it to be structured. There was a lot of personal growth that happened with that.
SGA allowed me to make larger changes and allowed me to have a voice at large. I could think about others, think about how we can make a change at a larger scale, and how Agnes Scott can move forward.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The work is mostly reading, writing, and discussion-based. It’s a lot of reading each week then you show up to class and discuss it. There aren’t essays often, but that and participation make up the bulk of the grade.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The English department is amazing. It’s a strong community, and they do a great job of being a space where students can see themselves reflected in work. Students grow as strong writers and critical thinkers. The Sociology and Anthropology department has done a lot of work that’s helped me think about other ways to think about anthropology, ethnography, and going beyond data. What’s difficult about that department is that it’s a combined department because Agnes Scott is so small.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s immensely collaborative. I’ve never been supported more in my life than going to Agnes Scott. Because the population is so small, it produces a culture where everyone knows each other and is there for each other. You’re never going to come across a face that isn’t open to help you. There’s an abundance of support. The school’s demographics are majority-minority, and because of that, I think there’s a strong culture of building people up when the world outside our campus does an impactful job of tearing people down. [About 32% of students are White and 31% of students are Black.]
How has going to a historically female college impacted your experience?
I think in a co-ed educational space, whether that be an elementary school or college, I think there’s a tendency for people who identify as women or another gender minority to feel like they don’t have a voice in the space and to see other people, specifically guys, be acknowledged first. Being at Agnes means everyone in a leadership position or speaking in class is not a cisgender man. What that does is create a space for saying, “I know I have space to claim and I know how to make my voice known.” So, when you leave this space, you know it’s no longer just men being called on first, you know how to exist in a space with them, and that your voice is just as important.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, absolutely. Agnes is a predominantly liberal campus, and, given the current political climate, the people who skew more conservative don’t have as much space in the classroom. I think the make-up of things also depends on the department. Agnes does a good job of having students think about foundational works and expanding upon them. We’ll take readings in class and try to include our perspectives to understand how that’s implicated today and in our lives.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m very happy with my choice. I knew coming in I wanted to major in English, I just didn’t know which track I wanted. In my first semester, I took an introduction to poetry class and I came out of it knowing it was everything I ever wanted to do. It was meaningful for me. Anthropology was a surprise. I took it as a general education course and it was a way for me to think about how my identities fit into academia in a more typical way. That leads me to think about what’s missing in [education] and how my work could be filling that gap.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Winship Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: A Learning-Living Community house with one roommate and 7 other housemates
Junior: Rebekah Hall with one roommate
Senior: Inman Hall with one roommate
How was transitioning from your hometown to Decatur, GA?
I wanted a college town, and I wanted access to the college but also to be close to a city. It’s nice having Decatur right there. I think something impactful is being so close to the Metro Atlanta public transportation system. There isn’t great public transportation where I grew up, so having that as a system to learn and benefit from is a positive.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I personally have been safe. In general, Agnes is a pretty safe campus. Public safety has been increasing engagement and is running new programs. In the past, there have been some calls on unknown men who’ve come through campus, but they’re not threats.
Pros and cons of being located in Decatur, GA?
1) The access MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority).
2) Decatur is super family-oriented, so there are lots of babysitting gigs.
1) If you’re trying to get into Atlanta, it’s hard if you don’t have a car.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
There’s a lot around to do, but because I live a busy life, I tend to take that time to myself. When I’m not, I’m either hanging out with friends or getting food. There are bars open and lots of nightlife within driving distance. There are a lot of other institutions around. We’re about 10-minutes from Emory University, 20-minutes toward Georgia Tech, and we’re also close to Clark University Atlanta, Spelman College, and Morehouse College, as well. That makes it so fraternity parties are always an option.
How often do you mix with students at other schools?
My first year I did a lot because I went to Hillel at Emory every week. I don’t take classes at any other institution, so I don’t have a reason to go now. The handful of times I’ve been to a fraternity party, I’ll meet people at other schools.
What have been some of your favorite times at Agnes Scott?
Pancake Jam is a good one. The faculty and staff serve pancakes and dessert the night before reading day during exams. There’s a DJ and the school has different games for us. It’s a way to let loose and celebrate the end of classes. Ring Ceremony is another big one.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m content with all my options. There are plenty of options, I just happen to not take advantage of all of them.
How did you meet your closest friends?
When you’re a first-year, you go on a program called Journeys where you go abroad for a week. Some of my closest friends I met there. I think there’s something about traveling with people that bonds you together. Being in a class full of first-years, you’re all figuring it out and there’s something powerful about that. I met my other friends through the English department. I also went on a spring break service trip and met friends on that.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Agnes Scott?
Vibrant and busy. There are lots of events – we’re over programmed. There are over 60 organizations. You’re going to find your people, that’s not a concern. People tend to have different social circles. Like, I have my Jewish friends, my English department friends, and then my roommate friends. Agnes provides avenues for accessing all those different shared commonalities.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s very common to see diverse groups of friends and for people to mix. [The undergraduate population is 12% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 29% Black, and 35% White.]
How would you describe the student body?
Personality-wise, people are dedicated and committed. They’re thoughtful, reflective, high achieving, immersive, and intentional.
How do you like the size of Agnes Scott in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with [about 1,000] students?
I was very comfortable going from a graduating class of 48 in high school to one that was 300 [at Agnes]. That was a comfortable jump for me. I knew I wanted a small institution with small classes and close relationships with professors. I wanted to be able to know the campus. If you want to know everyone on campus you absolutely can, but if you don’t want to know everyone and just have your close group of friends, that’s doable. It’s up to the student to define their experience.
What is the impact of going to a historically female college on your social experience?
It’s been comforting. I think there are certain concerns and worries I don’t think about when I’m on campus. I think there are shared experiences we all have because of the demographic makeup of the college. There’s a certain automatic trust we have with each other because of it.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
Agnes gives a lot of financial aid, and that’s been really helpful for me and for people I know. The office is understaffed so they’re not as responsive as they could be if there were more people in there. They require a lot of follow-ups.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Agnes Scott before entering as a freshman?
I’m a research-oriented person so I did a lot of figuring things out beforehand. I had an extensive checklist, I went for Scholars Weekend, and I did an overnight visit. I also strongly believe in falling into place and figuring things out for yourself. Out-of-state students need to know that everyone handles that transition differently. What’s really easy for someone who immediately adapts, makes friends, has little culture shock, and doesn’t miss their family is very different than people who need to call home every day, is having social anxiety, and is experiencing a lot of culture shock. They should know what resources are available to them, and to seek out other out-of-state students and seek comfort when they need comfort, but also not be told what they’re going to experience as an out-of-state student.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Interacting with professors might be something a prospective student doesn’t get to see. I’m in a really personal subject, so our relationship with the professors in English specifically are super personal. I think on visits sometimes things are a little detached and seeing professors isn’t really a thing.
Reasons to attend Agnes Scott:
1) You’ll be pushed academically to produce meaningful work that you see yourself reflected in.
2) You’ll meet people who support you unconditionally and show up for you in ways that are meaningful and loving.
3) There’s an abundance of resources, whether it’s through Decatur, Atlanta, or relationships with professors and networking with other students.
Reasons to not attend Agnes Scott:
I can’t think of any.