University of Alabama
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Catholic school in Boston, Massachusetts. There were 98 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college, but not far away.
First-Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: None
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Fashion?
We write journals every week about the upcoming fashion trends, and we do projects. The projects are both in-class or at home and are sometimes in groups. This year, the major grades for these classes are the projects, but last year was more exam focused.
Is there anything you feel the Fashion department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think they do a good job of making the exams, in the sense that they are difficult. I don’t think they teach in-depth enough during class. [Alabama’s Fashion Program ranks in the Top 50 fashion schools in the USA.]
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
One teacher I’ve had this year is hard to reach because she is not great at answering emails. If you ask her a question in class, she will happily explain anything to you.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I choose Fashion because I think it fits me well, and I love it. I’ve always had an interest in this field, so I’m actually eager to learn instead of having to learn.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Presidential Village Dorms with 3 other girls
Sophomore: Off-campus apartment close to campus with 3 people
Can you describe the level of safety on and around campus?
In Tuscaloosa, some people don’t go to school but live there. We had an instance last year where people were shooting on The Strip, which is where everyone goes out at night. Since then the police have been more alert on the campus.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
A coffeehouse about 10 minutes away from campus. I’ll sometimes go there to study or be alone.
How was transitioning from Boston to Tuscaloosa, AL?
At home, we are in the city, but Alabama is completely different. Going to the South was definitely a culture shock. A lot of kids are from the South, so they have completely different personalities. Their way of life is different, like being specific about going to church on Sundays or going home to visit parents a lot. [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?
1) The stores are only 10 minutes away.
2) There are breakfast and lunch places within walking distance.
1) The airport is [a 1-hour drive away].
What kind of nightlife do you like to participate in?
Everyone pretty much goes out to the bars or the fraternities.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I usually go out Thursday-Saturday. On games days, we’ll stop by a fraternity then go to happy hour at the bars.
Describe a typical going out night freshman year. How did it differ from when you are now more established socially on campus?
Freshman year you want to go out a lot more, but sophomore year people seem to settle down a bit. I had a friend in a fraternity, so during the first couple of months he would text me when things were going on. We would hang out in our dorm then Uber to the location.
What is an alternative to going to the bars that you like for a night out?
[There’s not a ton that I know of.] You could go to a Mexican restaurant and get margaritas, or just hang out in your apartment.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
You are basically in a fraternity or sorority, or not. It’s very cliquey, and, when going out, you can tell the groups of people apart. [34% of Alabama’s 33,000 undergraduate students are in a Greek organization.]
How does not being in a sorority affect your weekend options?
Freshman year, it was difficult seeing my friends join a sorority while I did not. Now, it’s not that bad because I have friends in and out of them, and people don’t care as much sophomore year.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
If I could change something, I’d like there to be more bars. After doing it for a year it gets a little old, so I’d want to mix it up.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
People of different races don’t have an issue at Alabama. Everyone will say hey to each other, and I’ve never witnessed a racist encounter. [The university is 76% White, 10% Black, 5% Hispanic, and 1% Asian.]
How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
The size doesn’t bother me. I know the people I know, and that’s really it. [There are 38,392 students enrolled, both undergraduate and graduate.]
How did you meet your closest friends?
From the dorms freshman year.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Alabama?
Everyone has their group of people by now, and they do the same thing every weekend. At this point, it’s not really socializing with new people, but those who you know already.
How would you describe the student body?
People are very wealthy. People are not career oriented and care a lot about partying. After sophomore year, people settle down and figure it out, but it seems like a good chunk of people stay in the freshman year phase. [The median family income of students at Alabama is $130,200, and 59% come from the socioeconomic top 20 percent.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not at all. The school is so big, which makes it seems like they forget to tell people about the opportunities available. I find that this makes it hard to contact people for internships.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I have not, but I’ve talked to my advisors who help make my schedule, and they tell us what will benefit us the most in the future.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’m taking computer science for two years, and I know a lot more about Microsoft Excel now.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Alabama before entering?
I wish I knew the Greek life was going to be such a big deal, and the majority of people I know only care about partying.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you know somebody there, go out with them at night because it’s a good chunk of your school life.
Reasons to attend Alabama:
1) The campus is beautiful.
2) Game days are an experience you’ll never get again.
3) It’s nice getting to live in an apartment during your sophomore year.
Reasons to not attend Alabama:
1) If you are not interested in Greek life. [34% of Alabama’s 33,000 undergraduate students are in a Greek organization.]
2) There is not much to do around the school.