An Interview On
Colgate University

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Public school in New Jersey with a graduating class of about 480 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Environmental Studies
Minor: Geography
Extracurricular Activities: I was a student-athlete but stopped. I’m in a fraternity and I’m in the Investing Club.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
My affiliation with my fraternity has a massive influence on my life at Colgate. That’s where I met most of my friends and where I found a lot of my social life.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
There were a few classes that were more quantitative and didn’t require problem sets but had larger assignments that included more quantitative work. A lot of the classes were research-based and writing research papers and various papers on stuff we covered in class.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think Environmental Studies is not as developed of a program as Economics or Math for example. There aren’t that many classes you can take and a lot of the major is fulfilling the other requirements that you have to take in other departments. The professors are great though, and the students in the major are very passionate about the environment.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I wouldn’t say it’s very competitive. You do come across students who are competitive but I’d say those students are the minority. Group work is very common at Colgate and in it’s common to work with people who you don’t normally sit with or speak with in class to answer a question or talk about the question in the classroom.

How accessible are your professors?
Very, very accessible. I have never had a problem with trying to get in touch with a professor. Professors are also very clear about their standards for grading and stuff like that.

Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes, ideally, they would be. In practice, at a place like Colgate, there are a lot of people who are intolerant or judgmental of various schools of thought that oppose their stance on social issues. As a White male and being affiliated with Greek life, I definitely have felt afraid to speak on certain issues because of socioeconomic position and social standing at the school. So, on paper, I think people always will say that they’re accepting of all of these social views, but if we’re talking about race, class, gender, or feminism in class and I wanted to bring up an issue that I have had while dealing with other organizations, I may get some flak from people who have preconceived notions about me being in a fraternity means.

What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for Environmental Science?
This was a tangential requirement I had to take, but it was a class called Logic. It was just a really interesting Philosophy course that taught me how to think and argue better.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
My initial attraction to the environmental classes was because I’ve always been interested in the Earth’s processes and the intersectionality between those processes. Now that I’m going through the job search process, it’s been difficult because I’m trying to get into finance and it’s hard to market my educational background and tie it in with my interests. Also, Colgate being a liberal arts school, no specific discipline is going give you the same skills that somebody who has a finance major from a business school.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Gate House with one roommate

Sophomore: In the townhouses. That was at the time when sophomores and juniors can live in them and there are 16-person townhouses. I was very fortunate and got to live in a house with a group of 16 friends including myself. It was a great time.

Junior: We all wound up joining the same fraternity and all lived in our fraternity house.

Senior: Off-campus with four other guys.

How was transitioning from living in New Jersey to Hamilton, NY?
Not difficult. I never really had an adjustment period at all because I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew it was going to be very rural and what the downtown scene was like and what resourced I had access to.

Pros and Cons of being located in Hamilton, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s a good distance from New York City and the Tri-State Area, which is where most people from Colgate are from. Your parents can’t surprise you but it’s also not too far. [24% of students are from New York State.]
(2) It’s a different pace of living here. You’re in the Colgate Bubble in that you’re very isolated and is a different world, which I don’t think is analogous to what the real world is like.
(3) I love it out here. It’s beautiful and the campus is really beautiful.
(4) Because of the isolation, there’s such a close-knit atmosphere and given the smaller size of the school, everyone gets super close. I would say that I know most people who are operating in the social scene because of that isolation.

Cons: (1) It’s a bubble. We all joke that Colgate is not a real place. When you go to New York City it’s shocking how much slower the pace is in Hamilton.
(2) We have to drive 35-minutes to get Chipotle if you want it. There’s not much immediately outside of the town.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Colgate?
Directly due to the fact that there’s nothing to do around here, my friends and I drink at like every chance we have. It’s a heavy drinking and drug culture in general. People here like to work hard and party hard. You go to the library and are there until 9 or 10PM and then go down to the house and party. The two nights a week where people don’t go out are Sunday and Tuesday. To be in the social scene you kind of have to be on a sports team or be affiliated with a Greek organization because otherwise, it’s difficult for you to get involved. I say that because don’t know anyone that is involved who isn’t involved with a sports team or Greek organization unless you’re a freshman.

What do the freshmen do for nightlife?
Everybody who is a freshman goes to The [Old Stone] Jug until rush picks up. The fraternities will have freshman guys down every time we have a mixer or a party on the weekends. Now that I’m older, I just go to the fraternity parties.

What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a weekend activity?
There is stuff to do, you just have to travel a little bit. I know people will go to Syracuse or go to New York City for a concert or a night out. People will also sometimes go to Buffalo for Bills games depending on who they are playing. If you’re doing something like that, you’re going to try to make a night or weekend out of it because you’ll have to travel a bit. It’s not going to be a quick trip.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at Colgate? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s tough to say because it’s all I know, but I love it here. Objectively, to an outsider who doesn’t know the culture here, this may not seem like the most exciting place to come but it’s such an unbelievable place. I’m super happy with the social scene.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
One of them was on my team with me and we both quit at the same time. Also, one of my best friends from home coincidentally came to Colgate and he lived down the hall from me my freshman year. His roommate played club rugby so we formed a friend group with those guys, and it was very, very organic. A unique thing about not rushing as a freshman and having nothing else to do but meet people is it brings people super, super close together and is the foundation of the atmosphere. A lot of the people who are friends now as seniors usually start as friends freshman year.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s intense for sure. It’s a lot because of the smaller size and the type of people that come to Colgate. As a guy in a fraternity, it’s awesome. There are about three or four big parties happening on a night and the girls will work their way down the row and stop by each one. Because of the smaller size of the school, it can be competitive between organizations, but competitive in a fun way. It also is intense because there is the drinking culture and fraternity parties are what fuels the scene.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
In my fraternity and other fraternities there is a bit of diversity in terms of race, and I know in one of the other fraternities there is someone who is gay. The school itself is predominantly White so it is hard to find an organization that is going to be a great blend of various races and sexual orientations. There are various interest groups and organizations for people but I think that makes people self-segregate. I think it’s going to get better because we recently had a meeting with some administrators about doing more philanthropy work and more events to intermingle with other organizations. [About 22% of students are domestic students of color.]

How do you like the size of Colgate in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [Colgate has about 3,000 undergraduate students.]
I love it. I’ve visited a few of my friends at big state schools and I’m at a party and don’t recognize anybody. They think it’s a great party because there are 300 people there but they don’t know any of those people. What makes Colgate so great is that it’s a smaller school and we’re in this bubble so everyone is way more familiar with each other which leads to a level of comfortability at the social events, which I think leads to more fun for everyone. I would say I know most people in my class because most of them are involved in the social scene in some capacity.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes. All of my internships have not come through the Colgate network specifically, but I have been able to network with people. It’s pretty unbelievable how big the Colgate network is. Within the finance sector specifically, it is insane to go on LinkedIn and the other various databases and platforms that Colgate has and learn about how many alumni are in high ranking positions at various institutions. I’ve had over 100 networking phone calls with Colgate alumni and Colgate has great platforms for connecting with them. The best part about it is how everyone is so willing to help. I think because Colgate is a smaller atmosphere, everyone has a very similar experience, so I know I can hop on the phone with any alum and can talk about a building or a dorm that we both lived in. Those shared experiences can lead to a relationship immediately and people want to help you out because of that.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They are not that helpful. It’s weird because I wonder how the alumni network is so good if I feel that career services are not that great. They recently built a new building that’s very nice and they are very helpful in finding the direction you want to go in, but for people passed that stage and need to know how to get there, they aren’t that helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
I’ve learned Excel though courses offered at Colgate. Some of my courses have used Excel, but I learned it because of a course over the weekend that taught me Excel.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Colgate before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew exactly what a liberal arts program entails. I wouldn’t trade my liberal arts education for anything, however, competing for positions in finance and not having any true industry knowledge or skill sets that I can refer to in interviews, I wish I knew how Colgate was going to lack in that aspect.

What’s something a prospective student interested in Greek life may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Meet everyone and become friends with everyone and don’t burn any bridges. Also, make the right decision for yourself based on where you feel the most comfortable. Don’t discredit anything for reputations, just have the experience of going through rush and then make a decision.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The social scene. People come and can stay overnight with someone who they’re paired up with, but usually, the people who host prospective students are not the people who are active within the social scene. I would try to connect with anyone possible and try to have them connect you with somebody who is active in the social scene, and I’m sure people would be happy to do that.

Reasons to attend Colgate:
1) The alumni network.
2) The unbelievable social scene that is here and the friendships and bonds that you will form throughout your time here.
3) The really beautiful campus.

Reasons to not attend Colgate:
1) The weather gets really, really cold up here.
2) The administration is cracking down on Greek life in general, as it is at every school. The administration is trying to change the social scene.
3) The demographic at Colgate is pretty narrow so some people may not feel comfortable. I know a couple of people who have transferred out of Colgate because of that. The lack of adversity here isn’t really advertised. [About 22% of Colgate’s student body comes from the socioeconomic 1%. It has more students in the socioeconomic top 1% than the bottom 60%. About 68% of students are White.]
4) It’s a college town here. But, compared to bigger schools our college town doesn’t stack up at all.

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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