University of Alabama
BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019, I transferred in as a sophomore from a small school in South Carolina.
High School Experience: Private all-girls school in the suburbs of Baltimore with about 45 girls in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Minor: Communication Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I was on the AdFed at school. I am in Project Health where I help girls and boys who struggle with body dysmorphia issues.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I would say the AdFed did because it brought me into really liking advertising.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Advertising has a mix of Public Relations classes, so some of the PR classes are digital and some are specific to a certain thing. In the Advertising classes there are a ton of group projects. There was one class where we split up into groups and spent the entire semester working in that group. We’d give weekly or biweekly presentations on what we found. Most of the digital classes are mostly are on your own. The creative classes, which are all Photoshop and InDesign, are not my forte. I think a lot of people either click with it or don’t. I’m going to be more in the client relationship portion of advertising, so that is not what I’m going to be doing.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I’m currently doing an internship with an advertising agency this summer, and I’m finding that everything is really, really digital. By that, I mean social media, so a lot of Facebook posts, Google AdWords, and learning about things like that. I feel like a lot of what we’re learning about now is print media. I feel like they’re keeping us 20 years behind. Now that I’ve experienced a real agency, it’s kind of like a different world. I’m learning things that I think should be in our curriculum that currently aren’t.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s great. I went from a small school to a big school and, yes, there are larger lectures but I never feel that it’s not intimate enough. You can ask questions, you can meet with your teachers. I never feel like my professors are distant because of the larger classes. A lot of my classes, especially in Advertising, will have a large lecture, but then for your more specific classes will be only 20-30 kids.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
An insights class that I took, which was basically pulling together data on different kinds of target audiences for different products and at the end of the year we did a big presentation on vacation destinations. It was very fun and interesting.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Mass Communications Law. Advertising and Public Relations students all have to take it. It was a really difficult class and there were no other grades other than the exams, which were very difficult. It was interesting, but it was a tough class.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Yeah, I am happy. I wanted to get into something that I could use my personality in. I want to use my talkative side in a job I can get paid for.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Sophomore: I lived in a house on the Strip my first semester and then I moved second semester to an apartment called University House, which was great. There was a huge pool where there were pool parties.
Junior: Apartment in University House.
Senior: I’m living in a house with three other roommates. I’m really excited about it. It’s a little farther from campus, so I’m going to have to drive.
Can you describe the level of safety on and around campus?
On campus is very safe. For the nightlife, if you’re walking around downtown Tuscaloosa, it’s a little skeevy, so you want to walk with somebody and make sure that you guys Uber home. There’s never been a time when I’ve felt unsafe during the day at school. The only time that safety could be an issue would be at night when people are intoxicated, just because it’s a big school.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There is a trail right off of campus that goes around a lake. I have a dog at school, so I’ll walk the dog there or go with friends or go on runs there. That’s the best place to go.
How was transitioning from Baltimore to Tuscaloosa, AL?
I had a much harder time at my first school in South Carolina than I did in Alabama. When you think about Alabama you think of the deep south, but when I got down there it was so diverse and I didn’t notice it as an issue. Since it’s such a big school, I’ve met maybe two people from Alabama my whole time there. My roommates are from California and Florida. Alabama draws a lot of people from diverse places, which I thought was a big help for Alabama. [Of all the students at Alabama, 40% come from Alabama, and 57% are from out of state.]
Pros and Cons of being in Tuscaloosa, AL?
Pros: (1) The campus is beautiful. It’s its own little bubble. You either on the campus or you’re not.
(2) The Strip is so nice. On The Strip, you still feel like you’re on campus. You mostly see students there.
Cons: (1) It’s far from other cities. It’s hard to get places.
(2) The airport is about an hour away from the school.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Alabama is very, very, very fun. There are tons of things to do. I am a big bar person. I like the more relaxed bars. There are bars that are like nightclubs and are rowdy, but if you’re not into that there are bars with more chill atmospheres. From time to time I will go to the frat parties, but mostly I will go to the bars. My favorite bar is Innisfree.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I will only go out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Once in a blue moon, you’ll catch me out on Wednesday.
Can you describe a typical night going out?
You’ll start [by hanging out] at your apartment or wherever you live and then you’ll go to a house for a party. Then everybody will walk or Uber to the bars. You’ll probably get some food after [laughs] and then you’ll go home.
What is an alternative to going to the bars that you like for a night out?
If I don’t go to the bars I like to go to the movie theater or the bowling alley. Or I’ll go to a friend’s house.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Honestly, no. I think it’s great. The only thing I would change is that there’s cover at the bars, which is annoying and I feel like a lot of other schools don’t do that. You could go to a bar and have to spend like $20 to get in. [It gets expensive.]
How was blending in socially as a transfer student?
It wasn’t hard for me. I think if I had gone there as a freshman and rushed it would have been much better, but I didn’t have that opportunity. I ended up meeting different people, met some good ones and met some bad ones, but in the end, I’m very happy with who I became friends with. It wasn’t hard, it was just about finding the right people to be around.
How did you meet your closest friends?
When I moved out of my first house, which wasn’t a great experience, I moved into an apartment with two girls in [a sorority] and then I became friends with all of their friends and was hanging out with them all the time and became very close with them.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Alabama?
I would say it doesn’t really matter if you’re in a sorority or not. I think that’s a big, big thing. At southern schools I feel like the sororities are built up to be this thing where if you’re not in one you don’t have a social life, and that is simply not true. A lot of people drop by the time they are a junior. It’s really for freshmen who get to school, get their feet in the water and make friends, and then they drop because it’s so expensive. I don’t think that being in a sorority defines your social life.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I see it all the time. There were some issues with a sorority girl saying racist things, and there were rallies the next day but everyone joined in. I think, for the most part, everybody’s accepted there and there are tons of groups for people.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
It’s pretty big when you’re just joining because there are certain sororities that hang out with certain fraternities and that kind of thing. Once you join and meet your friends and drop it doesn’t make any difference because you still have those close friends. It’s not a big deal I think, at least not for me.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Alabama by senior year?
I do, especially because most of my friends don’t want to leave and a lot of them stay throughout the summers to take extra classes and be there.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not yet. There is a career office that will help you find internships or job opportunities in the area that you’re looking for. That resource is really helpful.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Excel, Google AdWords, Photoshop, Simmons Research, InDesign. The two big ones are Simmons Research and Photoshop.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Alabama before entering as a transfer?
I guess I didn’t think about how far it is. It’s a pain to come back for Christmas and Thanksgiving and you might not have the opportunity to go back for quick breaks. Sometimes there aren’t direct flights and I have to fly out of Atlanta. That’s something that I wish I considered more.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The Strip. Go check it out and look at places. I also suggest talking to a student and if you can stay with a student for a weekend. I don’t think you understand the experience until you spend a weekend and see what life is like. That’s what convinced me to go.
Reasons to attend Alabama:
1) There are so many opportunities in terms of majors and minors.
2) There are a lot of things to get involved in on campus. There are serious things and just for fun things.
3) Good football, duh.
4) It’s a beautiful campus. The Greek houses are huge and super pretty.
5) Some people think that Alabama isn’t a great school academically, but it’s really what you make of it. I’m in the Honors College and I take some really difficult classes. I think that going to Alabama is a different experience and makes you grow up. It’s fun and you learn and I think it’s a great time.
Reasons to not attend Alabama:
1) Safety is a little bit of an issue. [The Tuscaloosa crime rate is 21% higher than the state average. Violent crime rate is 10% lower than the state average but property crime is 27% higher than the state average.]
2) It’s very expensive between living off campus and paying cover for bars.
3) If you’re not into big classes, don’t come. No matter what major you’re in you’ll have some very big classes.