College of Charleston
BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2019
First-Generation College Student: Yes
High School Experience: Private college preparatory school in Annapolis, MD with 100 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
Minor: Creative Writing
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a sorority [with multiple leadership roles]. I’ve had two internships as a graphic designer, I have a radio show, I participate in Reading Partners, and I’m in the ICAT program where you make a startup.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I would say my sorority. I lived in the sorority house, so I was surrounded by it all the time. That’s where all my friends are, and I’ve made so many great relationships through that.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Communications major?
My Communications major is presentation driven. I present once or twice a week depending on the course load. There’s a lot of synthesis of arguments that I have, such as condensing a research paper I did into a presentation. That’s usually the last assignment I have for the semester. For Creative Writing, I have a 10-page paper due every two weeks.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I’ve been surprised by the Communications department. I declared the major not thinking it was going to be impactful for me because it’s a catch-all. Now, I’m in a capstone course through the Leadership department, and I have an incredible network of professors that are willing to talk to me. That mentorship within the Communications department is incredible.
How would you describe the learning environment in your major? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative. Compared to my high school, it’s nowhere near as competitive. We’re all in the same spot, and everyone wants to make their writing and speaking better. It’s really supportive, especially from my peers.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Extremely accessible, especially in my major courses. I find they are always ready to help, which has been instrumental in completing my major because they honestly want me to stick around. They are always super helpful and down to talk or bounce ideas around.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I’d say yes. There is a lot of room for conversation being a Communications major, and everyone is incredibly open-minded.
What was your favorite class in your major?
Ethical Communications, which went over the Society of Professional Journalism Code of Ethics. Being in the media, every decision you make should align with your ethical morals. We basically went over court cases, which I really liked.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
My transition was very intense because I went to a rigorous high school where there was a lot of hand-holding without a lot of independence. When I went to college, I was going out a lot more, and just making a lot of friends but neglected my studies, especially because I was taking a lot of general education courses. As soon as I got into my Communications major, a lot of the professors mimicked what happened in high school. They were really on top of me, which made things a lot better.
Why did you choose Communications?
I chose it because it was the only major that appealed to me. I didn’t want to be an English major even though I like to write, and I didn’t want to be a Marketing major because I kind of stray away from math. Communications was the best of both worlds. I got to do a lot of writing, but also a lot of public speaking. I’d say I’m definitely happy with it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: 10 Warren Hall
Sophomore: Off-Campus house with three roommates
Junior: Off-campus house with three roommates
Senior: The sorority house
What has been your favorite place to live?
The sorority house. It’s been really fun, I live with so many girls, and I get to meet a lot of different people.
How was transitioning from Annapolis, MD to Charleston, SC?
There was not a big [culture shock] because Charleston is pretty urban. There wasn’t a lot of huge things I noticed. A lot of people from Maryland also come here, but I’d say the transition was pretty easy.
Can you describe the level of safety you have experienced on and around campus?
Public safety is always close, and we have those buttons you can push if you need help. The community itself is very small, so I feel like when I walk down the street, I’m at least going to run into one person I know.
Pros and cons of being in Charleston, SC?
1) It’s a bikeable city. I love how manageable it is.
2) It’s a small campus community. I know everyone really well and I feel like I basically have family here.
3) The businesses and companies around. A lot of them are interested in talking to College of Charleston students. This is great for internships, and general mentorship and advice.
1) High rent.
2) I struggle financially here. Things in the city are expensive because it’s a touristy town.
3) Parking is a huge con. I have to pay $500 a semester for parking, and it’s at the aquarium. It’s hard to get off the peninsula, and it sucks because there are no grocery stores here.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go to King Street a lot. That’s where all the bars are. I don’t really like going to house parties at all, and we’ll go bowling.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I probably go out Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Wednesday as well, depending on the week.
What’s the alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
We go to Music Farm, which is a concert venue here. Or, we just hang out at our house and chill.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Charleston? Is there anything you would change?
I will say it’s fun, but King Street starts to get a little small, and you keep seeing the same people over and over again. After being here for four years, I’m ready to move on to the next thing.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my sorority. We all have gotten really close since freshman year. I met [my guy friends] through other people, class, or just randomly running into people. It’s really small here, so I feel like everyone knows everyone.
If at all, how did being a first-generation college student affect your social transition?
I don’t think it impacted me that much. I don’t really identify as first-generation because my parents have given me so much, and I’m very privileged to have access to all this information. I never really felt like I was different than everyone.
How would you describe the social scene at Charleston?
It’s predominantly focused on partying, and I feel like everyone is really social. People want to go out and meet people all the time.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of diversity, especially being in my sorority which a little more diverse compared to others. This is something I wanted when I came here because I’m from Annapolis, which is predominantly White and heterosexual. Coming here, it was nice to meet different kinds of people. [Minority groups make up 20% of the college.]
How would you describe the student body?
I’d say that 75% are just floating around trying to get by, and the other 25% are some of the most inspirational people I’ve met. They are hoping to enact change and do something with their major. They are super driven, inspirational people you look up to.
To what extent do people inside and outside of Greek life mix?
Especially during my first three years, I surrounded myself by people not in Greek life, particularly a lot of my guy friends. Being in Greek life doesn’t remove you from those people, it brings you closer to them. You can bring them to events when they’re interested, and it’s a nice break from being in a sorority.
How do you like the size of your school in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
I think it’s a good size. I went to a really small high school and didn’t like it because it was so tiny, and everyone was the same. Here, there’s a lot more diversity and so many people to meet all the time, but it’s not too big to where it’s overwhelming. [There are about 9,900 undergraduate students at College of Charleston.]
What is the impact of Greek life on the College of Charleston social life?
I’d say there’s not a lot of Greek sponsored parties here because they get shut down so quickly. I’d say I have used Greek life to meet my friends that I then go out with, but I don’t consider it a source of going out. I don’t think the primary purpose of joining a fraternity or sorority is going out, more so just to be involved in a community.
Do you feel more so like you’re more so a resident of Charleston than a student at your school?
I think everyone that goes to school here feels like they live in Charleston, not like they go to the College of Charleston. A lot of the bars we go to are predominantly college bars, but it’s nice being surrounded by adults, businesses, and people in their professions that I can get advice from.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I’ve gotten two of my internships through my sorority. Job wise, I’ve gotten several interviews and have contacted people through my sorority as well, [along with] the College of Charleston itself.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful has it been?
I don’t really utilize them. I more so just go straight to my professors and my academic advisor.
Have you learned any computer programs that are helpful or will be helpful to you professionally?
I took a class freshman year that went over the logistics of Adobe. I’m in an Entrepreneurship and Information Technology class where we learn how to use AI2 and stuff like that, which is basically an app inventory.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What’s something you wish you knew about College of Charleston before entering as a freshman?
I kind of feel like I have college figured out in a way. If there was anything I wish I knew early on, I’d be more outgoing and just reach out to people I want to hang out with.
What’s something that a prospective student interested in Greek life may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
A lot of what’s in the news is that we haze, there are lots of drugs, and you have to be a certain way to fit into the Greek life stereotype. This is just not the case at the College of Charleston. Every single sorority on campus is incredibly kind. It’s obviously a different college experience once you’re in it, but if you’re curious about joining Greek life, don’t let what you hear get in the way.
What’s something that a prospective student may miss out on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would say definitely go to [The School of Business]. Not a lot of people check it out.
Reasons to attend the College of Charleston:
1. It’s the perfect balance between a city school and an off-campus environment.
2. It’s a really great college to go to if you want to be involved on campus, but don’t want your academics to drown you.
3. It’s a great way to meet a lot of different kinds of people. There are a lot of communities on campus that always make me feel welcome.
Reasons to not attend the College of Charleston:
1) Don’t come if you don’t like to be social. It’s really how you make friends here.
2) If you’re looking only to be invested in academics. If you want to have a good time here, you need to also be part of some kind of community, and there are so many kinds to choose from.
3) If you like sports. We have sports teams, but no one really goes to them.