BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public magnet school in Columbia, SC with a graduating class of about 120 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I help plan the Clemson Literary Festival, I [have a leadership role] in the English Majors Organization, and I am in the Poetry Workshop.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
They’ve helped me build a better community on campus and me explore the campus more.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
I have nightly reading for about an hour and a half. We then have weekly or biweekly papers and larger midterm and final papers.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The head of the department emails us like three emails a week but they’re not overpowering. It’s about stuff that we would be interested in like a Spotify playlist, bands coming into town, and poems we would like to read.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
English classes are really heavily discussion-based and we have a lot of smaller classes. There’s a big emphasis on thinking on the spot and arguing, so in that sense, it can be a bit competitive. Especially in the upper-level courses it can be a bit more intense and people want to make a better contribution than others. It’s not like there’s a curve or it’s bitter, but there is an emphasis on every person contributing.
How accessible are your professors?
They are extremely accessible.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah. When I came to Clemson I had this view that it was mostly an agricultural and science school, so it surprised me that the English department is so strong and diverse. The students are really intelligent.
What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
Romanticism because the professor emphasized a lot of 19th-century poetry. It’s classical and elevated and exactly what you think of when you think of fluffy, annoying poetry, but it’s my favorite period.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I went in as a science major, but I always wrote and liked to read. I had it in my mind that I wanted to go into education, and I was scrolling through the possible majors and saw English and decided I wanted to change.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I was in the Bridge Program and lived off-campus in a house with three other people
Sophomore: I lived in a townhouse with one other girl.
Junior: Off-campus apartment with one other person
What was your favorite living situation?
The off-campus house because I feel like I have a lot more freedom and it’s teaching me more adult responsibilities.
How was transitioning from Columbia to Clemson, SC?
I was ready to get out of my hometown so the transition was pretty smooth. In terms of location, it’s only about 2 hours so it’s not too far and I am able to go home when I want to.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had a time where I felt threatened. There are blue lights everywhere that you can click if you have an emergency. I don’t really walk the campus at night, but if I do I’ll call Tiger Transit.
Pros and cons of being located in Clemson, SC?
(1) It’s a beautiful landscape and there is beautiful nature.
(2) It’s a good college town. I like the small-town feel.
(3) There is good college football and the whole town gets involved.
(1) It’s not close to a big city so you have to travel far to go shopping or really do anything.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Clemson?
I go out pretty much every night of the weekend downtown. I used to go to the frat parties when I was a freshman and sophomore but now I mostly go to bars.
What’s the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Really not much at all. The fraternities are obviously stricter about what guys can come to their events, but being a girl I think makes it easier because I don’t have to worry about that. I never wanted to join Greek life and that’s never held me back from doing anything.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I like going up to Asheville There are a lot of literary events and they have good live music venues. Especially my freshman and sophomore year, my friends and I would go up to the mountains on the weekend like Rainbow Falls, Sliding Rock, or Black Balsam Knob.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Clemson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’d like there to be more entertainment in the town. It’d be nice to have a place where there are local performances or just something different so there are more things to do than go to bars.
How was transitioning socially from the Bridge Program?
It was a bit harder because I felt like I didn’t get enough exposure to Clemson when I was a freshman. What was is they brought some past transfer students to talk to us about what they would have done differently and we were able to meet with some Clemson advisors later on in the year.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my closest friends was my freshman year roommate. The girl I have lived with for the past two years I knew in high school and she asked me if I knew anyone who needed a roommate and I needed a roommate too, so we roomed together and we’ve been best friends ever since.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I really do think partying is a big thing here and that’s all people kind of resort to. Like, when people go out to the lake they usually aren’t sober. I’m not advocating for it, but that’s just how it is here.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Being a liberal arts major, I think that statistically there is a more diverse community in those majors. Like, there are a lot of LGBTQ people in my major and they are definitely accepted, but I don’t know how it is in other majors. To be honest, I’ve gone to plenty of social events and parties, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than five African-American students which is really sad. So, I don’t think the parties and social events I’ve gone to are not as welcoming. I have noticed that Greek life can be split that way too. [About 3% of Greek life members are involved in chapters in the National Panhellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council. About 82% of undergraduates are White.]
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
I’m friends with a lot of girls in sororities, but probably more guys in fraternities though. I did notice that every time that I would go out a guy would ask me what sorority I’m and it that kind of confuses me. I think people who are in it expect a lot of other people to be in it.
How do you like the size of Clemson in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 19,600 undergraduates.]
They’re adding a lot of people really fast and the school is building a lot. It’s a really small town and there’s never not traffic on Tiger Boulevard anymore. It’s getting crowded. [The number of undergraduates has increased from 16,931 in 2013 to 19,669 in 2018.]
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Clemson by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Clemson?
Yeah, I really do.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, because all the experiences I’ve had with jobs have come through my department because my department head is always sending us stuff to apply for.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t used the career office but I’ve gone to career fairs and have gone on the Clemson Job Network.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
No, I haven’t.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
The one time that I’ve had to work with them, the lady at the front office was very nice to us. When I was a transfer student there were some issues and she was able to help right away.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Clemson before entering as a sophomore?
I wish I knew how hard the transition from the Bridge Program was going to be socially. I’m not really a big fan of the Bridge Program itself, I wish that I had more preparation before getting to Clemson because when I arrived I was lost and everyone was already in the swing of things.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would go specifically to the building where the major you’re interested in is because every major and every school has separate areas on campus. I think it’s worth going through those buildings and getting a feel for the area where your building is because although the campus is small you get secluded to the area where your department is.
Reasons to attend Clemson:
1) If you’re looking to have fun, you’ll love Clemson. There’s always something to do and people have a lot of energy here.
2) People have a lot of love for Clemson and there’s kind of a cult following.
3) It’s close to the Blue Ridge Mountains and you can easily go camping. It’s a beautiful environment around campus and the campus itself is beautiful.
4) At least in my experience, the professors have been insanely resourceful and understanding of anything. Even when I’m having issues outside of school they’re there to listen. The advisers are also amazing.
Reasons to not attend Clemson:
1) If you’re not a small-town person or don’t want to be around farmland.