BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Columbia, SC with a graduating class of about 400 students. I was in the International Baccalaureate program and didn’t have classes with people who weren’t in it and was very college-oriented.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: None, but I work on campus at the gym.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Most of my classes are all exam-based, so each exam is worth 25% of your grade. It’s rare to have more than one class a semester that has a research project or lab component with the class.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I was first a Biology major and then switched to Psychology. In Biology, I thought that the advisers were seeing us more so as numbers and would give us cookie-cutter answers. With Psychology, the advisers get to know you, will check up on you throughout the semester, and want you to take classes that will get you to get your degree on time. [In 2017-2018, there were 354 Biological Sciences degrees awarded and 250 Psychology degrees awarded.]
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s pretty competitive. If you make a friend in the class, they’ll probably be willing to send you notes. As far as the overall classroom, you fend for yourself and you either understand it or you don’t. Unless you’re friends with students, they’re all trying to learn and gain for themselves. It’s not because the classes are graded on a curve, people just want to do well for themselves.
How accessible are your professors?
They almost all have open office hours. I’ve only had two instances over my three years of college where I had to set up a specific meeting with a professor and they didn’t have open office hours. For the most part, they’re pretty accessible are good at responding to emails on time.
What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
Abnormal Psychology because mental health is such a popular topic now, it was interesting to learn about the different mental health issues people have. I feel like it’s the most relevant Psychology I’ve had for the real world.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I chose it because I was interested in it. I think it’s important to understand mental health and understand the brain. I feel like you can do a lot with Psychology because it’s learning about people and how they work, which I think can help with any job.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Manning Hall, which is an all-girls dorm for freshmen, with one roommate.
Sophomore: I lived off-campus in an apartment with two other girls.
Junior: I live an off-campus house with three other girls.
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?
It’s pretty good. Most of my friends from high school went to South Carolina or College of Charleston, so coming here gave me the chance to meet new people. It was a different environment because I wanted to see things that weren’t in Columbia after living there for 15 years.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s very safe. I’ve never felt afraid once. Campus police are always on call and we have the blue light system. There also haven’t been any crimes on campus. There are also security measures that I like, like, you have to have your student ID to get into the library after midnight.
Pros and cons of being located in Clemson, SC?
Pros: (1) People love the football team here.
(2) It’s a close-knit community. Because it’s a small area and a small school, even if you don’t really know someone you still have heard of them.
Cons: It’s in the middle of nowhere. There aren’t a lot of restaurants here so you have to go to the same restaurants.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Clemson?
When I was an underclassman I went to frat parties and day parties. Now that I’m 21, I like going to the bars downtown. I regularly go out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
What’s the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
There are definitely certain bars that Greek people go to. One of my roommates is in a sorority and my other roommate and I have dated guys in fraternities, so I don’t think it really affects the nightlife. They just have certain events that other people aren’t invited to, like mountain weekends and mixers. Once you turn 21, people don’t care about those anymore. For guys, it matters more because their fraternities are hosting the events, but as a girl, I haven’t been excluded at all. That applies for tailgates too because if you’re not in the fraternity and are a guy you have to get on the list for the fraternity’s tailgate and pay two weeks ahead of time to get let in. [About 22% of students are involved in Greek life.]
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I haven’t done much of those. Pretty much all there is to do here is go downtown and go to parties, which is one of the downsides of Clemson. Unless you want to drive to downtown Greenville, which is like 45-minutes away, that’s pretty much what people do here. But, it’s fun.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Clemson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I don’t think I would change anything. I’m pretty content with them and enjoy them.
How did you meet your closest friends?
The first best friend I made here I met on my hall freshman year. She was in a sorority so I met her sorority friends through her. Then my best friend from high school transferred here last year, and then I met my third roommate through her.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It changes depending on your age. For freshmen and sophomores, it’s very heavily Greek, but for juniors and seniors, once you’re 21 it’s just going downtown. A lot of people I knew dropped their sororities once they turned 21, but I don’t think a lot of the guys do because fraternities [host so many of the events].
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Honestly, there is not any diversity here. I don’t think the people who don’t mix don’t mix because of discriminatory reasons, it’s just because they want to hang out with what they know. I’m Black and I hang out with a bunch of White sorority and fraternity people and there are Black guys in the White fraternities and Black and Asian girls in the White sororities. But, I know the Black fraternities and sororities don’t interact at all with the White ones. [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.]
How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
I think it’s pretty strong because I’m in a multicultural group and I get emails about lots of events that happen at the Gantt Center. There are options, it’s just a matter of if people actually go to them. They definitely raise awareness about it and I don’t think there’s ignorance about it from the university. But, I think there may be ignorance within the students.
How do you like the size of Clemson in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 18,600 undergraduates.]
I think it’s pretty good. You can definitely meet new people and it’s easy to make friends because you have a lot of opportunities to meet people, like, you’ll know someone in your class and you’ll see them downtown and say hi. The size can also be bad because sometimes the library gets full and parking is terrible. You need to get to your class like an hour early to make sure you have a place to park. The campus definitely feels overcrowded. [The number of undergraduates has increased from 16,931 in 2013 to 19,669 in 2018.]
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I went there once when I was wondering about which major to switch to when I realized I didn’t want to do Biology. They’re all really helpful. You make a meeting and take a test that tells you which skills you’re best at and possible careers that could be good for you, and that made me feel more confident about switching my major and made me less confused about my transition to college.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
We use the statistics software SPSS in the Psychology labs and in my Biology and Chemistry labs we have to use Excel to make calculations.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
I’ve been using it for all three years. The first year was really easy because I just had to fill out the FAFSA. The past two years I was selected for verification but they lost one of my forms so I had to physically go to the office and deal with it and it was difficult because they had students working there rather than people who work in financial aid and have knowledge of the situation. I’m hoping next year it will be easier.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Clemson before entering as a freshman?
I knew Clemson was a small town, but I didn’t realize how small of a town it is and that you need to drive at least 20 minutes to get anywhere, so you don’t have many options. [The population of Clemson, SC is about 15,375.]
What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Don’t be intimidated by the reputation of it being a Republican and southern school because most people are not like that. I have never felt threatened or discriminated against on campus.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They’ll probably take for granted that the campus is actually really nice. They don’t get to go into the classrooms on the tour, but they’re very nice. The library, even though it’s always crowded, has a lot of good study spaces and other resources to help you. Clemson also offers a lot of academic help for free. We have an Academic Success Center that will give you free tutoring.
Reasons to attend Clemson:
1) The football team is so much fun.
2) It’s a well-respected institution and is getting more competitive with who we let in.
3) People are really is really nice, especially at football games. If you walk up to a random tailgate, people will offer you food.
4) There’s a lot of school spirit. As cheesy as this sounds, if you go to Clemson and see someone in public wearing a Clemson sweatshirt, you’ll go up and say hi and tell them you went to Clemson and instantly have a bond.
5) The cost of living, besides housing, is pretty cheap.
Reasons to not attend Clemson:
1) If you’re looking to go to college in a city, that’s not what Clemson is. Sometimes there’s nothing to do here.
2) If you want all your classes to be small. Some of the classes will get to over 100 people and you don’t know the professor. As you get to higher-level classes, you get smaller classes. All freshman year you’re going to be in a general education situation where you don’t know the professor because the classes are too big.
3) The off-campus housing can be expensive right around campus. They price it depending on location and if you can walk to campus. I have to drive to campus but I get much cheaper housing.
4) Parking is terrible. You’re paying $178 a year for a pass and you don’t even know if you will find a space on campus.