University of Alabama
BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2017
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2017
High School Experience: All girls private Catholic school in St. Louis with about 150 students per class.
Majors: Advertising and Art double major with a Creative Specialization for advertising. It was brand new when I entered, it’s different than general advertising.
Extracurricular Activities: I was in a sorority for 3 years but dropped for my senior year. I was in the Capstone Agency, where you work for real clients. I made graphics for a juice bar to go on social media with a team like a real agency. I was also part of AdFed, which is the advertising club.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Fall semester junior year you start your creative specialization. You start with concepting, so you make 100 thumbnails 3 times a semester and every week you have to come up with 10 ideas for ads in rough form. You draw up an ad with a sharpie and the professor critiques it. At the end of the semester, you end up executing your ads. You have to know Adobe programs, and that comes earlier on. You’d probably take that at the same time as your first concepting class, making thumbnails and also doing Adobe. You still have tests and stuff, like I have about 3 tests throughout the semester in my 300-level class.
Is there anything that the program does especially well or poorly?
If you want to be a creative in advertising that program they started is a huge deal. If you graduate in the general advertising track you wouldn’t be able to do creative work. It prepped us for having a portfolio for interviews. That is an advantage that Alabama has over other schools. You graduate with a portfolio and that is rare from a non-art school. The Capstone Agency is also a huge deal because you have client experience before you graduate. One thing that’s bad was all of our ads we graduated with were print and everything is leaning towards digital now, but that I think is changing. The new professor will be leaning towards digital and interactive [material].
What was your favorite class in your major?
Portfolio 2. You take 3 different portfolio classes and make three different campaigns. I had a really nice professor.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
Portfolio 3. I had an evil professor. He would pick our work to shreds, but I guess that’s a good experience in the long run.
What’s a fun class you’ve taken?
Why did you pick Advertising?
I wanted to do something creative and make money. I had an Intro to Communications class where they talked about advertising and I didn’t know it was a thing to be a creative in advertising, so I switched up my major and ended up loving it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Presidential Village. I had my own room and shared a bathroom with one other person. There were four people in the suite total. It was far from campus but worth it. Everybody that lives there enjoys it.
Sophomore: Crimson Student Living. It’s an apartment complex that’s one mile off campus. Because of the walking distance, I wouldn’t recommend it because at night you have to cross the train tracks. We all had our own rooms and own bathrooms and kitchen. I wouldn’t recommend living there also because it’s kind of a [dump]. I wish somebody had told me to just live close to campus because that’s the best option in my opinion. We were just looking for a place that looked nice from the outside.
Junior and Senior: Preston Place one girl. We could walk to bars and class really easily and we had our own bedroom and bathroom.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I like Moe’s BBQ for something that’s more native to Alabama.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Riverwalk, it’s a path along the river I used to run a lot. The Cliffs are really cool, there’s a lake where you can jump off the cliffs.
Pros and cons of being in Tuscaloosa?
Pros: (1) Everything’s really close. You can get by without a car and you don’t feel like you have to go really far for anything.
(2) The college does bring a lot of cool things to Tuscaloosa. There’s cool culture if you look for it. Like, the first Friday of each month all the art galleries are free to the public.
Cons: (1) If you’re from the North it’s a large cultural change. The college campus kind of creates a bubble but sometimes it’s noticeable you’re in the deep south.
(2) If you’re a person that needs certain chains, not everything’s in Tuscaloosa. Like there’s no Forever 21 in the mall.
Pro/Con: Tuscaloosa’s such a college town it’s easy to be just in the campus bubble so it doesn’t encourage you to learn a new city.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in?
It depends on the year. Freshman and sophomore year, I’d go out to frat parties Monday or Tuesday and then Wednesday through Saturday night. Junior year I changed to just Wednesday through Saturday. Then Senior year I went out just Thursday through Saturday night. The amount I went out went down over the years because you have more stuff to do class wise and I had a job senior year.
Can you describe a typical night freshman year?
We’ll pregame in a dorm, and then we’d take a bus or walk to frats. We’ll go to a frat party or a band party. If there wasn’t a swap, [which is a fraternity mixer with a sorority], we’d go to band parties. We didn’t start going to [19+] bars until late freshman year, and even then, it wasn’t as often. Occasionally there were house parties but that’s not as common.
What have been your favorite days or nights at Alabama?
It’s hard because Saturdays during the day are always great whether it’s football season or not. When it’s not football season there are day parties. Day parties and football season are always good to look back on.
What’s an alternative to going to a frat party or a bar?
Some people hung out in dorms a lot freshman year. There were groups of friends that just partied in the dorms. I know that the Outdoor Rec has a bunch of stuff and they did camping trips I think.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Alabama? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m really happy, but I just wish there wasn’t cover at bars.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my dorm freshman year and through my major.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they do in certain social circles, but in others definitely not. In terms of Greek life, no, but it’s getting better. I’ve seen a gradual change in my four years there, but for the vast majority of Greek life, no. Outside of that, it can be diverse. My major is very diverse in terms of both race and sexual orientation and we all hang out as friends. It depends on where you look to find diversity.
What is the impact of Greek life of social life?
Greek life is a huge deal. I didn’t want to go Greek at first and my friend said that you’d regret it if you didn’t. I think I would have transferred if I didn’t go Greek. People who don’t go Greek say it’s really weird freshman year and have a harder time finding friends. As you get farther along people don’t care as much. [There are more than 11,500 students involved in Greek life, making up 34% of the undergraduate population.]
How would you describe the social scene? Is it cliquey? Is there a social hierarchy?
I think it’s too big to get cliquey. Freshman year it has a lot to do with Greek life. People immediately ask you what frat or sorority you’re in and you make friends that way. People make judgments based on what Greek organization you’re in. People stop caring about that Junior year unless they’re trying to see if you have a lot of mutual friends. Freshman and sophomore year people care a lot about Greek life. But unless you’re a girl, it doesn’t really matter. It’s weird. It also depends on what bars you go to regularly, you run into the same people a lot. You also have the people that never get over being Old Row. I never felt that there was a hierarchy. It’s pretty open, you just have to do what you want to do and you’ll find the people want to chill.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Alabama by senior year?
Almost everyone I know loved it. Anybody who didn’t like it ended up transferring, not that I know a lot of people that transferred. [In 2017, University of Alabama had an 87.9% retention rate.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I wouldn’t say the alumni network overall, but the reason I have my next job is that someone in my major had an opening where she’s working and contacted us. For my major specifically, my class of graduates will be really helpful for younger kids. Once you get into applying to agencies it’s really helpful to know somebody in agencies.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before entering Alabama as a freshman?
I don’t know. It’s hard because I think If I knew certain things I wouldn’t have gone here. I remember not thinking racism was really a big deal, and then someone freshman year said something extremely racist and I had to realize that was a thing. At the same time, I think that can happen anywhere. I wish I would have known that Greek life doesn’t end up being as big of a deal. It stressed me out at first, but people grow out of it.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
When I visited I thought the downtown area was where campus focused. But when you’re here, you’re mostly on campus or on the strip at the bars. Game day is a big deal, so try to see that if possible. [Bryant-Denny Stadium is the seventh-largest North American stadium by capacity (101,821).]
Reasons to attend Alabama:
1) If you’re interested in my major, you graduate with a portfolio
2) You’re going to have a really good time. You won’t have to worry about finding things to do at night. You can find something no matter what.
3) We’re really good at football. [Alabama has won 17 national championships in football.]
4) You can do whatever major you want. There’s not much they don’t have for undergraduate options.
Reasons to not attend Alabama:
1) It is kind of a party school, so a lot of people end up dropping out because they can’t handle it. You’re going to be in trouble if you’re not good at self-control. [In 2017, University of Alabama had an 87.9% retention rate.]
2) It’s a weird bubble because there’s a lot of really wealthy kids at Alabama. People don’t always act like it but it’s something that’s there. [Socioeconomically, about 6% of students at Alabama come from the top 1%, which is among the highest among selective public colleges.]
3) If you want a big city, Tuscaloosa’s not that. You won’t get a city experience. [The population of Tuscaloosa is about 96,300.]