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An Interview On
Carleton College

Background

Interview Date:December 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
High School Experience: Public high school in Glenview, IL with a graduating class of about 1,200 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Chemistry
Minors: Biochemistry and Math double minor
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a [student-athlete], I’m a member of the Knights LEAD program, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and I have a job.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? 
I’d say [my sport] has a pretty big impact because of the time commitment.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It’s heavy on problem sets. I usually have 1 or 2 a week spread throughout my different classes. There are usually three exams per class throughout the [trimester].

Is there anything you feel that your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think they do a really good job of getting to know the students in the department and explaining the major to keep you up to speed. They’re very easy to talk to and their doors are always open.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’ve never felt like the learning environment is competitive. It’s very collaborative and everybody’s willing to help. Everyone accepts that it’s hard and you’re going to struggle, but it’s very collaborative.

How accessible are your professors?
I’d say very accessible. Most of them have office hours multiple times a week, and they’re available by appointment. I’ve never struggled to get in to meet with a professor. They have time after class and they’re very willing to answer questions in class.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
They could be more open. I think Carleton is a very liberal school, so the liberal perspective on social issues is the view that most people discuss. The perspective of a more conservative side is not always readily accepted. [See The Carletonian article, “Carleton Republican club restarts following hiatus.”]

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I took AP chemistry in high school and really liked it. I kind of knew I was headed toward the STEM field, but I was in-between computer science and chemistry when I got to Carleton. I took classes in both and fell in love with the Chemistry department and the science field in general. There isn’t a computer science minor, and I didn’t like the department as much.

How is managing both your sport and your coursework?
I think I was prepared pretty well for it. It’s slightly challenging at times with classes and exams and managing office hours and practice, but my coach has been very understanding. If I ever have to come a little late because I’m at office hours, they’re understanding. My teachers are also understanding if I have to miss class for a game.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Watson Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Musser Hall with two roommates

Junior: Burton Hall before going abroad for the winter

What was your favorite living situation?
Junior year.

How was transitioning from outside of Chicago to Northfield, Minnesota?
Northfield is definitely a small-town environment, which was a slight adjustment because I’m from suburban Illinois. However, I’m about 45-minutes from Minneapolis now so it’s nice and convenient if you need to get to the city. Everything you need is close by, and Carleton has transportation to get you where you need to go.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve very rarely felt unsafe on campus. It’s a small town and a close-knit community. The only people walking around campus tend to be people who should be on campus. Sometimes people from the neighborhoods will walk their dogs on campus, but it’s not a heavily trafficked campus.

Pros and cons of being located in Northfield, Minnesota?
Pros:
1) The community. Being in a small town forces the college community to be close-knit and integrated with the town. People are very accepting of college students.
2) The arboretum. There are 200+ acres where you can hike, cross-country ski, walk around, or run. It’s a nice element of Carleton.

Cons:
1) It’s a small town so it takes time to get where you need to go. You can’t walk to the Target right downtown.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
There are a lot of on-campus dorm parties and house parties. There’s no Greek life, so there’s not a huge pressured partying culture. If you want to go out, there’s usually something that you can go to. Since I’m an athlete, we have a lot of social events with the other athletic teams. Most underclassmen don’t go to bars, but most upperclassmen enjoy the two bars we have.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things? Are there regular places you go or things you do on certain nights?
Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Usually, the people hosting the parties live in the dorms or houses, or sometimes clubs and organizations will have stuff.

What is the impact of sports teams on the nightlife?
It has a fairly strong impact, especially in the fall when football is in-season. Maybe that’s my perspective because I’m an athlete, so my perspective is from what other sports teams are doing.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Carleton has The Cave where students can perform. You can sing, or if you have a band they host different shows. Additionally, once or twice a term we have Synchrony II which is a big dance event Carleton puts on.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBT nightlife options that you like to go to?
I know they have a house and they host parties and events, but most of my experience is with athletic teams.

How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. I’m not a huge sorority kind of girl so it wasn’t depressing that Carleton didn’t have Greek life. I’m pretty low-key and enjoy hanging out with my team. Having more bars downtown would add a better element to Carleton.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I was placed on a floor with people that I get along really well with. Through classes and people who end up being in your major. Sports also had a big impact on who I became friends with.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Carleton?
I’d say it’s pretty diverse and accepting. You can find people that have similar interests to you. Most people are kind and accepting of others, which is good. Everyone has their group, but some people float between groups. I like the social scene.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they mix to a fairly high extent, at least within my friend group. Thinking about who hangs out with who on campus, I think it’s pretty interchangeable. I also came from a predominately White and conservative high school, so maybe that affects my opinion. The intermixing of sexual orientations, races, and family backgrounds are mixed. [The undergraduate population is 8% Hispanic, 5% Black, 60% White, and 8% Asian.]

How would you describe the LGBTQ community on campus? How strong is it?
It’s pretty big. I think Carleton is a very liberal school. People are kind, accepting, and supportive on campus which is a nice thing.

To what extent do athletes and non-athletes mix socially?
I think they mix to a fairly high degree. I have my friends that are athletes and then I have my friends that I’m either in classes with or know through other things. I think every athlete has their friends who are on sports teams, but they also have friends that aren’t on sports teams. The athletics aren’t a huge overbearing element. I think the mixture of athletes and non-athletes is pretty large.

How would you describe the student body?
Personality-wise, I think there are a lot of introverts on campus because of the type of person Carleton attracts. It’s intelligent but friendly and accepting. The student body is incredibly collaborative and supportive.

How do you like the size of Carleton in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has it impacted your experience? [Carleton has about 2,000 undergraduates.]
I personally like the size. I came from a really big high school so Carleton is about half the size. Since being part of the community here, I think the size is great because I know almost everybody, but not EVERYBODY, knows my business.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes, actually. I should’ve gotten involved with it sooner, but this past fall I reached out to an alumnus who was also a Chemistry major and I’m working in his lab this summer. I went to the career center to discuss it and they helped fill out the funding application and cover letters. They were very helpful with the process that was very specific to me.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been? 
I’ve used them for pretty specific things, like the funding application for my summer internship and a cover letter. They were very helpful in terms of what I needed to focus on and what I needed to do.

Have you learned any computer programs or languages through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
In Chemistry classes, we have done a lot with Excel as an analytical tool. In a Statistics class, we used R and the one Computer Science class I took we did Java.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew before you entered as a freshman?
The language requirement. I didn’t realize you had to take four terms of it or test out.

What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
Communication is a very important part of being a student-athlete. You have to communicate with your coaches, professors, and teammates about what you’re doing and how everything needs to flow for you.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Look at downtown Northfield to see if it’s what you’re looking for in a college town. It’s part of Carleton and I really like it.

Reasons to attend Carleton:
1) The Carleton community is very supportive and excepting.
2) It’s very collaborative.
3) The academics are very good. It challenging but doable, and you get a lot out of it.
4) All of the professors I’ve had are cool and intelligent people. They want you to succeed and are looking out for your best interest.

Reasons to not attend Carleton:
1) It is challenging. If you’re not willing to put a significant amount of your time into school and want to have a huge nightlife party scene, it’s not the place for you.
2) It’s in a small town, which isn’t for everybody. Not everything is in walking distance.
3) It has a cold and long winter.

Notice: Carleton College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Carleton College.

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