Carnegie Mellon University
BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2018
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Private school in Atlanta, GA with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Decision Science – School of Humanities and Social Sciences. It’s a combination of psychology, statistics, and economics.
Minors: Business Administration & Film and Media Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I’m on a Carnegie Mellon Division III athletic team and I am on the Mortar Board, which is a senior honors society.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It depended on where you are in the major and how you chose to take the major. The route you pick is up to you. You could choose behavioral economics or more cognitive and decisional sciences. We used a fair amount of Excel for gaining a statistical background and doing problem set work. Despite this, you can spread the heavy courses out across your semesters. The more psychological classes were more reading and discussion based.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
They could have discussed the options of what path to take while approaching the major toward the beginning of our studies. With my Business Administration minor, I had a better understanding of what direction I wanted to go, but this is not always the case.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
I really enjoyed BRM, which goes through the types of decision making processes regarding numbers, logic, and emotions. This course gave me a nice background for the major itself.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Decision Analysis. The work was overwhelming, and if you missed class it was hard to catch up.
Why did you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
I am generally an indecisive person, so when I learned about the major I went to the meeting and discovered I was interested. I had convinced myself to be pre-med my first year but stuck with a few classes for [Decision Science] because it’s very applicable and unique. I loved how it combined three majors to give me a new perspective toward decision making, and I am very happy with my decision to drop the medical track to pursue this course study.
On and Around Campus
Where did you live during your Four years?
Freshman year: Donner – Freshman housing with 1 roommate.
Sophomore year: Off-campus house on Northumberland Street with 6 roommates.
Junior year: Roselawn, which is on-campus living, with four roommates. That is [unusual] because usually once you go off campus, you don’t come back on.
Senior year: Off-campus house with 5 people.
What was your favorite living situation?
I liked them all except sophomore year because I didn’t click with the people. My favorite was living off-campus my senior year, regarding who I lived with and how nice the house was.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I haven’t felt super threatened in any way. We get crime notifications, but they don’t happen often. It’s a relatively closed campus which makes walking around at night not bad.
Pros and cons of being located in Pittsburgh, PA?
1) It feels like a melting pot of diversity so you get a better cultural perspective.
2) There are lots of food options and events to attend.
3) Beautiful downtown area
1) Weather is not the best, but you get used to it.
2) Sometimes downtown you didn’t feel the safest at times, but this comes with being in any big city.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
As an athlete, there is a fair amount of going out. It’s not your average school. People will stay in and work on Friday or Saturday night, but there is also a crowd to go out with when you want. We have lots of athletic team parties. [In terms of Greek life], those not in Greek life have a harder time going to these parties. The bars are on Walnut Street are also popular.
What have been some of your favorite times at Carnegie Mellon?
Carnegie Mellon has an event called Carnival on Thursday and Friday where mainly Greek Life organizations will create and build a themed booth for you to explore and walk around. It’s a time to party 3 days in a row.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Carnegie Mellon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Early on in my college career I thought I wanted to go out, but the parties were hit or miss, some fun and some not. It was fun going out with my friends on athletic teams. Toward the end of college it was tighter knit, so I did more staying in with my housemates and people I genuinely care about.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Lots of my closest friends came from my sports team and spending so much time with them. The group I lived with my senior year was a group I met freshman year. Donner had a communal bathroom which gave me lots of opportunities to meet new faces. Additionally, because my major and minor are pretty small, I met lots of people through there.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Some people focus on work all the time and don’t want to talk with people. What you find is the people willing to speak to you are passionate and friendly and are also willing to help you if you are struggling with something. Overall, people are very nice there are plenty of things to do on campus not drinking related.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
Carnegie Mellon is pretty diverse in all aspects. People are super willing to talk about the issues at hand, such as sexuality or racial differences. Sometimes these different groups will form groups, but there are also lots of mingling between the different types of people. [In 2017, about 26% of the undergraduate population was White, about 29% was Asian, about 23% were international students, and about 4% were Black.]
Has the alumni network helps you find internships or jobs?
I was not very good at putting myself out there and finding opportunities, and the job I got did not come from my internship. There are plenty of networking opportunities, especially for the athletes there are networking opportunities. There are mentors available to talk to about how to find internship and job opportunities. The school brings in companies that meet specifically with the athletes before the normal career fair the next day that is open to all students. I went to the networking opportunities, but I wish I used the mentor website more often because of the number of opportunities it provides.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
I used the career office for work. They helped look over my resume and cover letter to make sure they were good. I struggled to get second interviews, and they helped me with strategies. Overall, they helped me with job searches and even have helped me post-graduation with mock interviews.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Carnegie Mellon before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew immediately how diverse the school is in thought and perspective, in addition to race and culture. I wish I took advantage of all the discussions available. I wish I understood how nice it is to find friends that are from different cultural backgrounds. [About 22% of students are international, about 29% are Asian, and about 25% are White.]
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are definitely some cool buildings that don’t show it from the outside. The Gates Center for Computer Science is a new building with a helix in the middle and is something that stood out to me while visiting. There is a bridge that links this building and the drama building which is symbolic for a bridge between the arts and sciences.