BackgroundInterview Date:August 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Computer Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete and I play club lacrosse.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Both of my sports have. My varsity sport is a fall sport so it was really nice getting to campus early freshman year and already having a bunch of friends before the first day of classes. I didn’t feel stressed or worried about making friends when the actual academics started. It was a great launching point for freshman year.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
We have a lot of projects. It’s a heavy workload. For example, I created a program that took a bunch of text from books and put them into a database. I then ran a lot of tests on the authors of those books and created a program that could identify the author up to 90% certainty when I submitted a new text by one of the authors. Those projects make up the bulk of my grade.
How do you like Carleton’s academic calendar?
We start in the middle of September, end right before Thanksgiving, start the second week in January, end in the middle of March, start again in the first week of April and end in the middle of June. I’m not a huge fan of it because we have classes long into the summer and then I’m already at school in August for my sport, so I don’t have a lot of time off. In addition, all the classes I have to take I have to learn the same amount of information as a normal semester-long class in ten weeks, so it’s a lot faster. The only benefit is you only have to take three classes every trimester.
Is there anything you feel that your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
It’s a very large department, so they are mediocrely available for office hours. The professors are not very open to extensions or anything like that, so you have to be willing to work hard and long. I like the fact that they do a lot of hands-on work. They’re very good at assigning thoughtful projects that help us master the academic material. I feel like I’m learning applicable material.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It is so collaborative. There is no competitiveness. We help each other out.
How accessible are your professors?
In general, they’re very accessible. The Computer Science department is a little less accessible, but all of my other professors you can email or just walk into their office and talk to them. For example, I had a Physics professor that I would go to talk to two or three times a week to talk about various things in physics that I wanted to talk about, not even the course. The Computer Science department is so big and popular that they have to have certain times when they can meet with students.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes. I think you get a broad spectrum of personalities in every single classroom, which makes debating and asking important questions more effective. Everybody feels free to speak up and contribute.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I like the creativity along with the problem-solving aspect of it. I don’t like to write and I like that it’s a lot more math and science-based with problem-solving, which is everything I love to do.
How is managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s not terrible, but it’s also not great. It’s a lot of work to be done. Playing a varsity sport makes it so you have to prioritize your time a lot better. I actually did better academically during my football season last year because I locked myself in a lot more.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I was placed in Myers Hall on the substance-free hall with one roommate who I didn’t get along with very well. After your first trimester you are allowed to move out of your room, so I moved in with two other teammates to Burton Hall. Burton is attached to a building called the Complex where there is the dining hall and study areas, so in the winters when it’s really cold it’s much better to be there because you don’t have to leave the building very often.
How was transitioning from Baltimore, MD to Northfield, Minnesota?
It was good. I’m much more of a small-town guy. I don’t like living in urbanized areas, so this is exactly what I was looking for. It’s a very small town with a population of about 20,000 and there are a lot of farms. It’s a beautiful town and a great place to go for a walk or run.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s probably the safest place I’ve ever been.
Pros and cons of being located in Northfield, Minnesota?
1) It’s a small area and you can walk pretty much everywhere you need to go.
2) It has all the basic needs you could want.
1) You’re about 40-minutes away from Minneapolis, so you’re not really near a city.
2) It’s hard to get an Uber or Lyft, which makes it hard to get places like the airport.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
The college allows alcohol on campus so there are dorm parties and house parties on campus. Nobody drives anywhere, which is a lot safer. There is one bar in town that people go to, but only once they’re 21. Fridays and Saturdays there are parties on campus which are fun. The school also hosts dances for us, which are almost like high school dances. I wouldn’t say it’s a party school, but there are places to go if you want to party.
Who is generally hosting the parties?
There is no Greek life, so it is mainly the sports teams hosting the events. Last year my team had two houses where every weekend we would host things that everybody could come to. It’s not exclusive at all, I’ve never been to a party where I’ve been denied.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There’s a movie theater nearby and the Mall of America is about 35-minutes away, and that is a pretty cool thing to see. There is not a lot to do in Northfield other than go out on the weekends, so sometimes I’ll just hang out in my room.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wouldn’t change a thing. When I get older I would like to go to some bars, but I haven’t gotten bored of it so far. Also, it’s a tight-knit community and I never feel bad about staying in or going out.
How did you meet your closest friends?
First trimester, sports took a lot of my time so I only really had friends on my team. That’s how I met my closest friends. The second trimester I branched out more, joined club lacrosse and met a lot of new people there, and started talking more with the people in my classes.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Carleton?
Sports is a big way people meet people on campus. I haven’t had much experience with the clubs on campus, but I do know that’s how a lot of people meet people and get involved on campus. There are a lot of events the school puts on that bring the community together. Then, because it’s a small school, you end up pretty much knowing everybody, so it’s not like you absolutely have to join certain groups to have a social life.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Racially, there is no divide. In terms of sexual orientation, at least my crowd of people does not hang out with as many people who identify as transgender, gender fluid, or other identities. I just don’t think they are in the same groups that I am in.
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 would like about a thousand more people, but I’m definitely a small school person. I like the small classes and the fact that there are classes where there will be only ten people in a classroom. I get to spend more time with that professor working with them individually to get extra help. It’s also nice that the campus is small so that the longest walk I have is about twelve minutes.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Carleton before you entered as a freshman?
I think it gets a stigma that it’s a very, very liberal and that there is only a certain type of person who is there. At Carleton, you can find the people you want to hang out with whether you’re super into partying, athletics, LGBT issues, or whatever that may be.
What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
The teams are incredibly close. Every single team I’ve met is a brotherhood or sisterhood. Everybody on the team hangs out together and are good friends. Also, anything you need your team will help you with. If you need a ride to the airport, you can count on a teammate to give you that. It’s such a tight-knit athletic community.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They may not get to see the town. Downtown Northfield is a pretty cool place. I would walk around the river, go eat at my favorite sandwich shop, Hogan Brothers, and get that small town feel.
Reasons to attend Carleton:
1) Small classes make the professors a lot more readily available to help. The professors are so devoted to helping us learn and not just giving us a grade.
2) The small campus size. I love it because I know a lot more people who are there. It feels like you know everybody.
3) If you like small towns, this is one of the best ones you can get.
Reasons to not attend Carleton:
1) If you’re looking for a party school, this is not the place to go.
2) If you are an athlete and want sports to be your top priority, this is not the place to go. The professors are much more into your academics than your athletics.