University of Alabama
BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: December 2018
High School Experience: A tiny private high school in Virginia Beach with about 36 students in my graduating class
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Potentially a math minor, I’m not sure yet
Extracurricular Activities: I play intramurals and I worked on co-op. I would have graduated in the spring of 2017, but I took semesters off to work my co-op job.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
I have a pretty good course load, it’s nothing crazy. I go to the library like 8-10 hours a week. The first two years it was a lot of online homework, but the past few years have been handwritten. We have a lot of labs, so lab grades are big. We have group projects, like in my Senior Design class where we have a big group project that we have to turn in at the end of the semester.
Is there anything you feel the Mechanical Engineering department does especially well or especially poorly?
They’re very good at keeping us informed about everything and keeping us up to date. They’re good at getting us involved in research opportunities.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive. They do a good job of keeping the class sizes down. Once I got into my actual major classes, the classes have always been a good size so you can always go talk to the professors.
What was your favorite class in your major?
What was your least favorite class in your major?
Mechanics of Materials
Why did you choose your major?
I was pretty decent at math and problem-solving in high school and I figured that would be a good way to go. You can make good money in that field. It’s just something I thought I would be good at and it’s not a crazy hard major like physics.
On and Around Campus
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think they do a very good job with safety. We have the blue light system and there’s campus police everywhere. I’ve always felt safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Cliffs at Lake Nicol
Pros and Cons of being in Tuscaloosa, AL?
Pros: (1) Everything on campus is close together. You can walk everywhere.
(2) There’s always something to do socially.
(3) People are very nice down here, almost too nice.
Cons: (1) It’s in Alabama.
(2) There’s not a lot to do off campus.
(3) It’s far from a major airport. [The closest airport is in Birmingham, which is about a 1-hour drive away.]
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go out quite a bit to the bars. Freshman year I went to more fraternity parties.
Was it difficult going to fraternity parties as somebody that is not a part of Greek life?
Not if you’re social. It’s difficult if you’re not a very social person. If you’re social it’s fine, it’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty easy to get in because you’re bound to have friends in Greek life who can bring you to events.
What have been your favorite times at Alabama?
Tailgating and going to football games.
What do you think the impact of Greek life is on the social scene at Alabama?
I think it’s definitely prevalent. I mean it’s a huge Greek school. More people [I see] are involved with it than not. It’s heavy Greek life. [Alabama has about 11,500 students involved in Greek life, making up 34% of its student population.]
How happy are you with the nightlife at Alabama? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I love it. I’ve loved every part of it.
How did you meet your closest friends?
In the freshman year dorms. I also met a lot of them at Bama Bound, which is orientation.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Not that well. It depends on the person, but probably not as well as most schools. [About 76% of Alabama’s undergraduate population is White.]
How would you describe the overall social scene at Alabama?
Very active. It’s a fun school.
How would you describe the student body?
Very outgoing. We have a lot of school spirit.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Alabama by senior year?
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
They’re very good about helping you find internships and jobs. They have helped me personally.
How helpful has the career office been?
We have career fairs twice a year, and I was able to get a good job through one. If you go into it they will help you with your resume and cover letter. I’m in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, so I use their office and it’s been helpful.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be especially helpful to you professionally?
SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Excel and the rest of the Microsoft Office Suite.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before entering Alabama as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the Greek life. I wish I knew more people in Greek life going into it because it’s easier to make your initial friend group that way. If you go in like me not knowing a single person it might be difficult. I got lucky meeting my core group at the very beginning.
Reasons to attend Alabama:
1) We’re a growing academic school. Our academics are improving and it’s getting harder to get in every year.[In 2016, the University of Alabama was deemed the fastest growing flagship university in the United States.]
2) You make a lot of good connections here. You’re going to come out of here with great connections to go and do whatever you want.
4) You’re going to have a good time. It’s very socially accepting and there are very social people here.
Reasons to not attend Alabama:
1) Being in Tuscaloosa can be a culture shock at times.
2) It’s kind of expensive. [For the 2018-2019 academic year, total cost for an out of state student is $43,432]
3) It’s far from everything. [The closest city is Birmingham, which is also where the closest airport is, and it is about a 1-hour drive away.]