An Interview On
Colgate University

Background

Interview Date:February 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: I’m from Paradise Valley, Montana. I had a combination of public and private school and private tutoring.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Psychology and Media and Communications Double Major. Media and Communications is a self-designed major.
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I [have a leadership role] in the Philosophy Club where we meet Saturday nights as an alternative late-night activity to answer questions and explore what we think about stuff. I’m deeply involved in Student Government and am on the Governance Board of the University. Beyond that, I’m part of the Benton Scholars Program that focuses on leadership and global engagement on campus.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The Benton Scholars Program has been integral to my Colgate experience. I was selected during my first year and ever since we have had innovative classes and have gone on international trips together. It really focuses on building a sense of global awareness and leadership that I think is pretty unique to Colgate. It’s also given me access to some great resources and professors who are some of the best at the university. It has shaped my experience in a very positive and tangible way.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
Psychology was more focused on reading academic journal articles and then some problem sets for the more quantitative research-based classes. Media and Communications was more so film and essay based. But, it’s varied throughout the years. Right now, I mostly have readings some blog posts, and some films to watch. In the past when did statistics and quantitative methods for research, those were more math heavy. I’ve had a pretty well-rounded experience with all types of work whether it’s essays, tests, readings, watching films, blogging, and even making some videos.

Is there anything you feel your either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I feel that the Psychology department has some professors who are very caring, knowledgeable, and funny as well. We have some very devoted and committed professors who will take the initiative to make sure you’re doing well and not just simply make themselves accessible if you want to take advantage of them. They actively put themselves out there to ensure that you’re having a productive and meaningful experience in the classes.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say that people at Colgate can be pretty competitive because it is a more elite school. Personally, I’ve found in my majors that it’s not too bad. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never tried to beat out somebody or felt that somebody is trying to beat me.

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 are your professors?
Extremely. All of our professors post their office hours online so any student can come by and know where they are and when are available. Most professors are willing to talk and share during office hours, but there are a few who are a little more reserved and just concerned about whether you understand the material.

Why did you choose your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I always knew I had a talent for communication. That is something I’ve always seen very important because everything involves it, so I wanted to learn more about that. I also thought that understanding and working with people would be a nice benefit, so I chose Psychology. Together, they cover the mind and interaction with other people and I think those are fundamental in any field. I actually had to build the Media and Communications major and get it approved and that is something any student can do.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: East hall with one roommate. It’s a great place on campus and accessible to everything.

Sophomore: Drake Hall with one roommate.

Junior: I was abroad fall semester and then I came back I lived in the Newell Apartments with two people.

Senior: I live with the same people as junior year in the Newell Apartments.

What was your favorite living situation?
Definitely the apartments we have right now. They’re spacious and it’s quiet because we’re pretty far from everything.

How was transitioning from Montana to Hamilton, NY?
It’s pretty similar. They’re both pretty rural. I was very ready to come here and I loved it from the moment I got here. I didn’t have any homesickness and got started running. It was pretty easy.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel very safe on campus. I don’t have any hesitancy about walking downtown, walking at night, or walking anywhere really. That said, I know that experience isn’t shared by everybody. As far as my personal experience goes, I’ve always felt very safe and the vast majority of my friends feel the same way.

Pros and cons of being located in Hamilton, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s remote and rural, so we have clean air and a clean environment. You don’t have much light pollution, noise pollution, or air pollution.
(2) It’s a tight-knit community because we’re in the middle of nowhere. Everybody is with each other and you see people you know often, which I really appreciate.
(3) The school and the community are pretty integrated. Campus bleeds into town and we have events with townspeople.

Cons: (1) There is a lack of cultural engagement. As much Colgate tries to bring speakers and musicians, there are only going to be so many people to be brought here and spaces to be filled here. There are no concert halls or museums in the city.
(2) There isn’t a strong variety of food, activities, and nightlife overall in the town. There are only a handful of restaurants and places to go with your friends for a night out.
(3) It gets pretty cold in the winter and can get hot in the summers. You can get both extreme hot and extreme cold.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Colgate?
I’m not the biggest partier or drinker on campus. I run the Philosophy club as an alternative nightlife activity where we gather late on Saturday nights to talk about life, philosophy, and all that stuff. I’ll go to concerts with my friends if an artist is around or performing on campus. I like to hang out with small groups of friends in our apartments to play video games or watch movies. My friends and I also like to go to the gym and use the sauna at night when there aren’t as many people there. Occasionally I will go out to a bar and play some pool or grab a few drinks with friends.

What are some of your favorite events that happen on campus?
Whenever they bring speakers that are somewhat controversial to campus I love it. It’s a really good place for the student body to engage in what different perspectives can be exchanged and people can speak and listen to each other.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife? Have you felt impacted by not being part of Greek life?
There are certain events that are Greek life only because they’re a mixer between one fraternity and sorority. As much as the social scene is ruled by the fraternities, I’ve found my own space and have been perfectly fine. I knew some people in fraternities as well and if I really do want to participate, I can reach out to them and we can work something out. It hasn’t been the biggest impact on me even though there has been some impact.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Colgate? Is there anything you would change if you could?
For the vast majority of things, I’ve been quite happy. I’ve had my experience in New York City and other cities, and although I appreciate the variety of things to do there, I appreciate a smaller scale personally. Considering that I’m not the biggest partier, I’ve always found something to do whether it’s going to the gym, listening to a lecture, or hanging out with friends. I’ve definitely been happy and satisfied but there are also those things that are not here that only a city can offer.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through the Benton Scholars Program. It’s a group of really unique individuals and the people I’m living with now I met through there. Traveling together and having special classes together has fostered a good sense of community that’s persisted over the years. As we’ve seen new members come in and as they part of our culture, it helps diversity and bond the group.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
Vibrant, if I had to put one word on it. There are many parties that happen and there are many alternatives as well. You couldn’t go to every event if you wanted to, there’s just too much going on.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
To a fair degree. I don’t know as much about the mixing in terms of sexual orientations, but, as far as I’ve seen it’s pretty fluid. Of course, various interest groups mix more with one another because that’s human nature, but, at the same time, there are times when it’s very fluid. I’ve been in spaces where there are many people of different backgrounds and other events where it’s more homogenous. You can get both pretty easily.

How would you describe the student body?
Diverse. Engaged. People are diverse in terms of interests, engagements, and activities. People are part of many things whether it’s bands, athletics, student government, or religious and spiritual initiatives. Everybody has their little niche. We are somewhat racially diverse, but Colgate is a predominantly White and liberal place. I do think that we make a good effort to incorporate people from other backgrounds and other countries as well. [In 2016-2017, 4.5% of students were Black, 9.2% were Hispanic, 3.7% were Asian, and 65.9% were White.]

To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
Fraternity parties are pretty much open to any female identifying student regardless of whether they’re part of Greek life or not. Oftentimes, the sororities and fraternities will host exclusive mixers but it’s not like you’re screwed if you’re not part of that. You likely know people and have friends who are part of that and can be part of it here and there if you want to be. That being said, I’ve tried to be part of some things and have been [asked to leave], so it varies. There is a general sense of exclusivity but it’s not like absolute or punishable. [See A Space to Critically Discuss Greek Life at Colgate here.]

How do you like the size of Colgate in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [There are about 3,000 undergraduates.]
I love it. I think it’s perfect. There are not too many people and not too few. You know everybody to have a good friend group but you don’t know everybody in your class so there still is a level of anonymity. I wouldn’t want any more people and I wouldn’t want fewer people.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Colgate by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Colgate?
Yeah, I do. One of our alumni stereotypes is maybe people aren’t enthralled years one, two, and three, but come graduating and beyond, people really do love it. The vast majority of people I know are at least satisfied, if not happy. Obviously, there are some who have problems with it or are unhappy, but the people I’ve seen and experienced are relatively happy with it.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, I’ve been able to speak with alumni at businesses I applied to and they said, “Yeah, just send me your resume directly so I know it doesn’t get lost in the pile.” I haven’t reached out to them too much, but I know I’ll be using that more and more.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They’ve been rather helpful. They’ve helped me with my resume, interview coaching, networking, LinkedIn profile buildings, and a career course over winter break. I don’t think they’ve been immensely helpful, but I would definitely say they’ve been helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
In my Media and Communications work I’ve learned Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Adobe InDesign, Logic Pro, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how helpful is the office?
I definitely have used them and I wouldn’t be here if it were not for financial aid. The Benton Scholars Program is need-blind and they basically covered everything I demonstrated I needed. At every moment they’ve been very willing to talk and be transparent. They’ve been wonderful.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Colgate before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the university government works and how decisions are made. Through Student Government, I was able to uncover that, but I wouldn’t like to have known that coming in. In the same way, you should understand how the U.S. government works because you live there, I think it’s important to understand how the university’s governance structure works because you are a part of that. Understanding that would have allowed me to be involved quicker and make an impact earlier on.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
As somebody who never visited, I would tell somebody to not worry. It’s a vibrant place and there’s a place for everybody. Don’t worry if you don’t find things immediately. If you engage with the community and make yourself available, you will find your people.

What is something a prospective student interested in creating their own major may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Make sure it’s in alignment with the structure of all other majors, namely an intro course, methods course, theory and elective courses, and a capstone project.

Reasons to attend Colgate:
1) Great faculty connections.
2) It’s a tight-knit community that you will grow to like and eventually miss.
3) There are great research and job opportunities in the Colgate network.

Reasons to not attend Colgate:
1) If you want a bigger city or a school with more people.
2) If you’re somebody who wants to party all the time, you may find it challenging.
3) Be prepared for very hot summers and very cold winters.

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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