BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: Winter 2020. I’m taking an extra semester because the course load for my major makes you take an excessive number of hours per semester, so I’m just taking an extra semester to ease up on the workload. I also switched majors recently and that put me a little behind but not too much.
High School Experience: Public school in Irmo, SC with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a fraternity.
What impact has being in a fraternity had on your experience?
It helped me meet people who I wouldn’t have necessarily found or hung out with. It helped me branch out and meet people outside of my immediate friend group. Most of my friends are from New Jersey, and I had never hung out with anybody from up North after growing up in the South, so that helped me branch out a bit.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
The major graded assignments are exams. I also have labs that are about two hours per week and 15 hours of class. I have homework for every class that I have to turn in for a grade, and that will be weekly or sometimes twice a week. The lab will be about 20% of your grade, and the rest of your grade is the exams and homework. On occasion, there will be an attendance and participation grade, but none of my classes now have that.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The Biomedical Engineering Department has a bunch of resources. I personally don’t want to, but there are so many people who want to go to medical school so you are surrounded by a lot of students who work really hard. I personally like having those students in the same classes as me.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s more collaborative. There are a bunch of smart people in the major, so it is easy to meet people in your classes who really know their stuff and can help you out if you’re struggling. There is also [Peer-Assisted Learning] where you can go to tutoring sessions with students who have done well in the difficult classes you’re taking. I’ve always had tutors who are pretty smart, which blows my mind because I don’t think I could teach somebody how to do well in a class as well as they can.
How accessible are your professors?
They’re pretty accessible. Once you get more towards the upper-level classes, I feel that some of them are more focused on their research instead of teachings, so they won’t respond to emails and are less involved with the students. It will seem like they’re there for research purposes only. In the lower-level classes, I feel that the professors are more engaged with the students.
What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
I liked Statics. It was an interesting class that made sense to me. It was basically physics but amped up.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I took a biomedical engineering course in high school and I really liked it. Going to college, I was intimidated by having to take organic chemistry and other stuff, so I went with Mechanical Engineering instead. As I got into Mechanical Engineering, I realized that organic chemistry wasn’t any harder than what I was doing, and I liked the biology side of everything more, so I switched because I was more interested in Biomedical Engineering and it wasn’t any harder.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I did the Bridge Program, so I lived off-campus with three people.
Sophomore: I lived off-campus with three people.
Junior: I live on campus on the Fraternity Quad. I have my own room but there are 10 or 12 other guys on my hall. It’s not our fraternity house, it’s more like our fraternity hall. The Fraternity Quad is four big buildings where people in Greek life stay.
How was transitioning from Irmo to Clemson, SC?
I liked it a lot. I like how when I went to Clemson it is a college town. Everywhere I go there are students working and you pretty much see students every day which I enjoy a lot.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
One of the things I like a lot about Clemson is that you do feel so safe. Because Clemson is a college town and everything is so packed together, there are no random people off the side of the street walking around. Pretty much everybody is from Clemson, so it’s safe in that sense.
Pros and cons of being located in Clemson, SC?
Pros: There’s a lake where my friends and I like to go fishing. There are fun things to do since it’s out in the country and there are people who have a bunch of land.
(2) If you’re interested in agriculture, there is a lot of farmland around.
(3) You don’t have people leaving campus much because there isn’t a lot around the town. I like that everyone is always in Clemson so the farthest you have to travel to get to somebody’s house is like 10 minutes.
Cons: Two of the surrounding towns are Seneca and Central, SC which are not great areas. I don’t mind it, but if you go outside of Clemson there’s nothing. [The population of Seneca, SC is about 8,200 and the poverty rate is 20%. The population of Central, SC is about 5,200 and the poverty rate is about 41%.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Clemson?
We generally have fraternity parties either at our house or at other peoples’ houses. We usually have them twice either on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Clemson doesn’t have a traditional Greek Row, so all of our houses are off-campus and that’s where the parties are held. Now that I’m older, I’ll do that for a bit and then go to the bars in downtown Clemson.
What’s the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
In my opinion, if you want to go to a big event or a bigger party, Greek life is pretty much essential. Until you’re 21, Greek life is pretty much where everyone goes if you’re looking for an event. Especially as a guy, it’s essential because girls can get into whatever party they want to. Guys have to be on the guest list and often have to pay to get in. It sounds superficial, but the parties do cost the fraternity money so they need to do that. [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 just have a bunch of fun hanging out with my friends. Some of my most fun nights have been hanging around drinking or watching a movie with my friends.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Clemson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I like them a lot. Clemson has been enforcing some sanctions on Greek life as far as you can’t have a certain amount of people in certain parties. I don’t really care them to be as huge as some others want them to be. I’m definitely satisfied with it and I’ve enjoyed my time so far.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I came into Clemson with a few really close friends from my high school. Through Greek life, I’ve met some of my closest friends who I hang out with consistently now. Just going through the pledging process with them, you get really close.
How was transitioning socially from the Bridge Program?
It was pretty tough trying to get into parties and stuff during Bridge, and I also knew so many people from my hometown going into Bridge so I didn’t really get to meet any new people. Transitioning to Clemson, I enjoyed it socially because I was meeting so many new people that semester through the fraternity. I liked it a lot because it’s obviously a much bigger social scene than when I was in the Bridge Program. The fraternity was also key in that process because most of my friends now, both guys and girls, I met through Greek life. I have nothing against people who aren’t in Greek life, that’s just the avenue in which I met people.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s a good time. It’s less of a party school than some other schools I’m familiar with, like University of South Carolina. There are definitely fun times, there are not rowdy parties where people are going crazy. It’s a fun time and it’s more relaxed. I think because of our football program we get a reputation for being a party school, but I don’t think it’s a party school. It’s getting harder to get into, so you have fewer people who are willing to go out and party every night.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s not a super diverse school, which I think is partially due to the strong agriculture program. In terms of mixing, I have [international students and students of color] in my fraternity and we’ve extended bids to lots of people of color, so it’s not that there is bias, but, in general, there isn’t much diversity in Greek life. There are Greek organizations that are for [people of color], but they are more academically focused. As far as sexual orientation, I don’t really ask people about that or look for it, so I don’t really know. [About 3% of Greek life members are involved in chapters in the National Panhellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council.]
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
There not many joint parties or events between Greek life organizations and non-Greek life organizations. But, we have guys who always come around our fraternity parties who are just as good of friends with me as some of the guys in my fraternity are. Some of my best friends who I came into Clemson with from high school aren’t in Greek life and I’ll hang out with them too. Especially now that I’m 21 and am able to go downtown, there’s more of that mixing than there when we were only able to go to fraternity parties.
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 like it, but I do sometimes feel that it’s almost not enough. I obviously don’t know everybody, but there is a certain group of people who are always around and I see at parties and downtown. I sometimes think it’s not enough people because I don’t see very many new faces often. Most people who are going out are usually always going out, so I tend to know of most of them.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t gotten an internship yet. We have alumni supporters for my fraternity who come through. I personally haven’t looked for it, so I’m not sure.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t used them yet.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
My major uses SolidWorks, I learned MatLab, and I’ve become a lot more proficient in Excel.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Clemson before entering as a sophomore?
I sort of knew this, but growing up you see movies about college being a crazy experience and it’s really not like that. Everybody’s pretty focused, so it’s not that wild, which I’m happy about because I don’t need that.
What’s something a prospective student interested in Greek life may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Rush isn’t very long so it’s tough to see which ones you think are good socially. It’s good to ask around and see which ones are what you’re looking for. Also, know what you’re looking for in terms of [community involvement], because there are some fraternities that cater to that more than others.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Everyone talks about the “Clemson Family,” which sounds kind of corny, but there is honestly a culture where people look out for each other at Clemson. People are pretty civil with each other and there is a friendly culture of looking out for each other.
Reasons to attend Clemson:
1) Academics, for sure. We have really good engineering and agricultural colleges and the business college is pretty good too.
2) The football program makes it really fun. Tailgates are really fun and the team is really good.
3) The culture here. There is a caring culture where we look out for each other.
4) It’s a college town. Everywhere you go there are students, which is a cool thing to experience.
Reasons to not attend Clemson:
1) If you’re looking for a huge party scene. People at Clemson are not as rowdy as they are at some other places.
2) The academics are tough, so you have to put academics first. If you don’t want to do that, don’t come to Clemson.