An Interview On
Colgate University

Background

Interview Date:October 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: South Asian-American
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Westchester, NY with a graduating class of about 400 students. It was a privileged area so there was an expectation that everyone would go to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Environmental Studies and International Relations Double Major
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m an intern for the Office of Sustainability, I hold a leadership position in Students for Environmental Action, and I’m part of the Debate Society.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
All of them have. I have found a lot of friends through the activities and a lot of my Colgate experiences has been through the work I’ve done with the Office of Sustainability and the advocacy I’ve done. The debate society has also given me a good group of friends and that is a community on its own.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
Both of my majors are pretty reading and writing intensive. It depends on the class, but for the majority of my classes, we have readings every day and essays and tests dispersed throughout the semester.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I haven’t been able to get very far into the major coursework for International Relations because there are a lot of electives that you need to take for the major before you get into the actual content. That’s something I didn’t really like because I came into Colgate knowing I wanted to major in International Relations but I didn’t get to take the fundamentals course until this semester. I had to take a lot of other classes to fill the major requirements, like a language course and an economics course and things like that. I think it’s problematic because by the time you end up taking the fundamentals course you’re in really deep, but it might change your mind on if you want to pursue that major. There are other majors, like Peace and Conflict Studies or Political Science that I may have wanted to go into.

For Environmental Studies, the professors offer a diverse range of classes and there are a lot of different combinations with that major that you can go into.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
There’s definitely a culture of caring about schoolwork and keeping up with it independently, but not in an overpowering or extremely competitive way. Students get their work done. There’s not a thriving collaborative intellectual community. It can be found in some places on campus, but it’s not the norm.

Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I would say so. I don’t think anyone is particularly closed minded and people are ready to learn. It is a liberal arts school, which tend to be less conservative in general. But, I would say there is a healthy mix of people that are conservative and liberal and see things from a different perspective. It’s not all one way or the other like some liberal arts schools can be.

How accessible have your professors been?
Extremely accessible. It helps that it’s a small school. I’ve found that in every one of my classes my professors are willing to meet with me one on one at any stage of any assignment. They try to make connections with all the students, which I really enjoy.

Why did you choose your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice so far?
What made me choose that route was the classes I took in high school that I particularly liked. I think I’m happy with my choices. I do wish I could have taken a Fundamentals of International Relations course sooner. I do enjoy the coursework but I may have considered going with Geography or Peace and Conflict Studies. Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with my choice and the professors.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Andrews with three roommates. Andrews is a freshman and sophomore residence hall up the hill.

Sophomore: 113 Broad Street, which is down the hall. It’s a sophomore residence hall with three other roommates in a suite. I’m in a double and there are two other singles and we are connected by a bathroom.

How was transitioning from Westchester, NY to Hamilton, NY?
The transition was definitely hard. I don’t know if it was because of the change of location or just because college is a huge transition. Location-wise, I know a lot of freshmen find that it can be a little overwhelming to be in such a small town with no access to other places if you don’t have a car.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel extremely safe on campus.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Flour & Salt. It’s a bakery near campus and it’s definitely a favorite among students.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Even just driving around is pretty nice because upstate New York is really beautiful. If I need to get away from campus and there’s a destination in mind I go to Syracuse or Utica because those are the towns close by that have things to do.

Pros and Cons of being located in Hamilton, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s a really beautiful campus.
(2) It’s kind of nice to be in such a small town. It’s really charming and secluded and it can be nice to live in the middle of nowhere sometimes.
(3) We have a lot of outdoor education opportunities and we have a strong outdoor education program. You can go mountain climbing for gym classes and stuff. It’s pretty cool.
(4) When you’re in the middle of nowhere you can immerse yourself in the world of Colgate.

Cons: (1) You immerse yourself in the world of Colgate. People tend to remain in their bubble because we are so secluded. It can get claustrophobic.
(2) The weather. It gets very cold and it snows a lot. It can be hard to walk to classes in the winter.
(3) It gets dark early and the days are short. I know a lot of people have complaints about that.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Colgate?
I like to stay in with friends sometimes. I attend a lot of “Pubs” for the communities I’m involved in on campus. A “Pub” is a small party that is hosted by a club at someone’s house.
I’ll occasionally go to frat parties or the bar in town. Occasionally my friends and I will drive to Syracuse or Utica and do activities there.

What nights of the week do you like to go out?
I’m not someone who prefers to go out that regularly. If I do go out, it’s on the weekends. There is a culture of going out on the weekdays here, but people will also go out Fridays and Saturdays. As you get older it’s less restrictive because you have more access to other things.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Nightlife at Colgate is almost synonymous with Greek life. [Almost half of sophomores, juniors, and seniors are in Greek life.]

How happy are you with the nightlife options at Colgate? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy. I know freshman year was harder because there is a huge Greek life presence on campus which can lead to a lot of social stratification, which is a lot of pressure when you’re an incoming freshman. If you’re somebody who is not interested in that and is happy with the decision you make, that is totally fine. There are plenty of activities on campus other than frat parties. There are also these different groups that are strong, smaller communities on campus that host events and then Colgate also offers sober opportunities.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through my random roommate situation last year and also through my freshman seminar class that I was in because you go through orientation with your freshman seminar class. I also have met people through the clubs that I’ve joined.

What have been your favorite times at Colgate?
I really like the location because I like the outdoors and I like to explore the places nearby. Some of my favorite times have been driving around in upstate New York or activities like that with different people that I’m friends with. I’ve been up to Camp Colgate a few times in the Adirondacks. I’ve done that with sustainability groups that I’m part of and that’s been a really fun time. We hiked around, paddle boarded, and did other outdoors stuff.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
Because of Greek life, Colgate is socially stratified to the extent that it can be problematic at times. There are a lot of different groups on campus for people who do not want to join Greek life. Something that is important to say is that it is a small school so everyone tends to know each other, which affects the social scene.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Colgate, in general, does not have that much diversity, so it’s a pretty homogenous student body. I have noticed that there isn’t much mixing with domestic students and international students, but other than that everyone comes from similar racial groups or similar backgrounds. [In 2016-2017, 4.5% of students were Black, 9.2% were Hispanic, 3.7% were Asian, and 65.9% were White.]

How strong is the community of people of color at Colgate?
Small in number but the community itself is strong.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Colgate by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Colgate?
By senior year, yes. That is also just because if you’re at a place for four years you tend to like it. There are a lot of people who are unhappy with their decision after freshman year and transfer or think about transferring. [In 2016-2017, the first-year retention rate was 94.3%.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t tried to use it yet.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I used it for resume certification and it was pretty helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
No, I haven’t.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Colgate before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew it takes time to find the community that you’re comfortable in and it took a lot of testing out different groups. I wish I knew there is a slightly homogenous student body that can be overwhelming to maneuver at first, but it is possible to find spaces that you enjoy. Also, know that everyone is having a hard time with the transition.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Explore the town and get to know the town of Hamilton.

Reasons to attend Colgate:
1) It’s a small school so the professors really care and will spend time with you. It’s easy to get to know your professors.
2) It’s well-endowed and there are a lot of opportunities for students.
3) There are nice facilities. It’s a charming, really pretty campus.
4) There’s a good focus on interdisciplinary in the core curriculum.

Reasons to not attend Colgate:
1) The lack of diversity. [In 2016-2017, 4.5% of students were Black, 9.2% were Hispanic, 3.7% were Asian, and 65.9% were White.]
2) How the location is cut off from a lot of other places.
3) How some people can see there is a culture of privilege and apathy towards certain things. [23% of students at Colgate come from the top 1% and 2.5% come from the bottom 20%.]

Notice: Colgate University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Colgate University.

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