College of Charleston
BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2018
First-Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: I went to a big public school in West Hartford, Connecticut with a graduating class of about 500 students. My high school was very diverse, more diverse than College of Charleston, because we had a lot of students coming from inner-city Hartford.
Major: Public Health
Extracurricular Activities: Sorority
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It depends on the year and the different classes you’re taking, but it’s a lot of problem sets and a couple of papers. You have to take Biology classes, which is the majority of my work now. The great part about the Public Health classes here is it’s very independent, so you can develop your own programs and your professors will help you evaluate them. They really set up the curriculum well. They’ll start you off with classes where you develop skills and then you use those skills later on because to graduate as a Public Health major you have to you have to do an internship. It progressively gets more difficult by the end.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think that it’s a very structured program, which I like. You don’t really have a lot of free reign on what courses you’re taking, but I like that so that was okay with me.
I don’t think that the communication with the advisors is great, but that could just be a personal experience. I have met with my advisor, and I started meeting with her when I was a sophomore because I declared Public Health. I met with her to try to talk about the major and how I should lay out my courses just to make sure I wasn’t overloading one semester and really light on another. You pretty much have to approach your advisors, they’re not going to reach out to you and be like, “How are you doing, is everything okay? I saw that you have a low grade in your class.” I mean, I don’t think in college that’s a thing anyway, but, for incoming freshmen, you should go meet with them because it’s going to be a lot different than your high school advisor. If you want to talk to someone you have to reach out to them.
How would you describe the learning environment in your major? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative. All my classes are less than 25 people, which is really nice. You’re talking with people throughout every class. The only big 100-person lectures that I have are Biology classes. Other than that, everyone is really excited to help each other out in class. I don’t feel awkward asking people questions or asking my professor a question. Everyone is there to help each other out and I think that kind of goes along with the major. Everyone is a really considerate person and I’ve never met anyone in my major that I couldn’t get along with.
What was your favorite class in your major?
My favorite class was probably Nutrition, just because that’s what I’m really interested in.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
My least favorite class was definitely Anatomy and Physiology.
What’s a fun class you’ve taken, either for your major or outside your major?
I really liked Health Promotion. We got to work with a company or someone on campus, so I got to work for our school dietitian and you get to develop your own program and that outside person gives you advice. That was really fun and we didn’t have to meet in class as much, you just had to log your hours online. It was just nice to get outside the classroom and continue your learning elsewhere.
Why did you choose Public Health?
I wanted to pick a major where I’d be working with people. I did like the idea of the medical field, but to be honest I couldn’t handle that many Biology classes. I’m just not gifted in science, so I knew that wasn’t in the cards for me. One day I was looking through College of Charleston’s majors and I found Public Health. It’s a new major so I didn’t know much about it. I looked into it and liked that it focused on communities instead of individuals. I loved all the classes and the ideas behind every single one of them. All my professors have such interesting stories, so the different courses drew me in and the professors sealed the deal for me.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Kelly Hall, I had a roommate and two other suite mates. We had a bathroom in the middle of the rooms and a full kitchen.
Sophomore: You pretty much don’t live on campus. So, I lived in an off-campus house, two blocks away from school. [About 32% of students live on campus.]
Junior: Off-campus house, two blocks away from school.
Senior: Off-campus house, right next to the library.
What has been your favorite place to live?
I would have to say my house right now, senior year. It’s been the closest to campus and my house has 7 people in it so it’s very fun. I love living here.
Can you describe the level of safety you have experienced on and around campus?
I have never had an issue with safety here. I walk home from work all the time around 1AM or 2AM and I’ve never had an issue. I feel very safe. I think the key with Charleston is to make sure you walk on a lit road because there are side streets here because other people have had issues. I felt very safe all for four years. [See Charleston crime statistics here.]
Is it easy to walk around Charleston? Do you need a car to get things necessary for daily life?
Everything is within walking distance. I have not had a car this whole time. The only issue with not have a car is that it’s kind of hard to get to the grocery store. Like anywhere, you need a car to transport things. A couple of my roommates have cars so I’ll use that or you can Uber because it’s a 5-minute Uber drive.
What’s your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I would say Five Loaves. It’s a cozy café and there’s half off bottles of wine on Monday.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Definitely the beach, it’s about 20 minutes away. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by the city, which you definitely can, it’s on a peninsula so everything is super closed in and you see everyone you know all the time, you can head out to any of the three beaches and take a breather.
Pros and cons of being in Charleston, SC?
Pros: (1) There are many different opportunities because it’s such a tourist city. If you’re interested in business or food and beverage you have so many opportunities here to make connections.
(2) The weather is great!
(3) It’s really easy to get a job here if you want to be a working student because there are so many different restaurants, hotels, and all that stuff. Somewhere else it might be hard to get a job if it’s just all college kids, so I love that about this school.
Cons: (1) It’s a tourist city so you always have carriages going by and random people walking around campus, which can be annoying sometimes when you’re trying to get somewhere.
(2) There’s always bachelorette and bachelor parties all the time.
(3) How hot it gets in the summer, because everyone likes to stay here in the summer, but you’re just dripping sweat the whole time.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
At Charleston, my freshman and sophomore year I did a lot of Greek life parties and things like that. But, now that kind of went away, I would definitely say it’s more of a bar school. You go out on King Street and there are around 20 bars that college kids go to. That’s basically what College of Charleston nightlife is right now.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Now that I’m a senior and that I work a lot, I would say Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the most. But, when I was a freshman I went out more.
What have been your favorite days or nights at College of Charleston?
Bid day at College of Charleston for fraternities is probably the most fun day of the year. Everyone gets up super early, all the boys are in the cistern and making so much noise and all the boys are getting their bids. Then all the fraternities throw parties at different houses. It’s so fun! You can’t find someone at College of Charleston who isn’t at those parties on that day.
What’s an alternative of going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I have a few friends who are really into art, so there are art walks constantly in Charleston. If you’re not into going to parties or bars you can walk down King Street and you can just stumble upon an art walk. You can pretty much just walk from gallery to gallery.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Charleston? Is there anything you would change?
I loved my experience here. I liked that I got to be here when Greek life was a big thing here and then when it wasn’t. I wouldn’t change a thing.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through my sorority.
How would you describe the social scene at Charleston?
When you go out you pretty much see everyone that you know, which is really fun. Everyone’s pretty much going to the same bars and everyone does the exact same things.
Do you feel that people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Honestly, I would say no. I wish that was the case here, but this school is so homogenous and it’s very predominately white, so you don’t have many opportunities to mix. [Minority groups make up 20% of the student population.]
Do you think that people are happy with their choice of College of Charleston by senior year?
Yes, I have not met anyone who has not been depressed to leave this place. Everyone that I’ve met is so ecstatic that they came to this school, whether they wanted to in the beginning or not.
What is the impact of Greek life on College of Charleston social life?
When I got to Charleston the Greek life was a lot different than it is now. When I got to school here the campus seemed like it was really influenced by Greek life. You see it on campus, but it’s harder for bars and different restaurants to let us have events because of all the backlash in the past couple of years. To someone coming in, I would definitely say I love my organization and I’m really happy that I did it. I made a lot of good connections for post-grad, I met a bunch of different people I never would have met, and I gained leadership skills. But, I wouldn’t do it as a top social priority at this point.
How does having [68% of students] living off campus affect the community feel?
I think it honestly helps out the community. You’re not stuck in this tiny box because our campus takes 10 minutes to walk across. It expands the campus into the whole city and it makes it easier to get around because there’s always someone’s house to go to. If you’re feeling unsafe or you’re just looking for somewhere to go, there are houses where you know people live all across the city.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Charleston has this really awesome thing called Cougar Job Link. You can click on it and type in the city you want to live in and the major you have and they give you a list of all the alumni who are in that category who you can reach out to. That’s been really helpful for my job search after college. [Editor’s Note: College of Charleston has transitioned its alumni networking software to Handshake.]
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful has it been?
I love the career office. Some people don’t, but there’s one woman who I have worked with this year that’s been helpful. I’ll go to the career office and that’s where I learned about Cougar Job Link, I’ll have her review my resume, talk about specific jobs, and how she thinks I should phrase things in my cover letter. I really like it and it’s really easy to get an appointment because there are so many different advisors.
Have you learned any computer programs that are helpful or will be helpful to you professionally?
For Public Health you had to use a program called Epi Info. That’s all I’ve had to use for Public Health.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What’s something you wish you knew about College of Charleston before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how expensive it was going to be. When you’re here in the city you end up paying really high rent, you’re always going out to eat, and the drinks are really expensive. All of my friends have jobs because you need a job to support the lifestyle here.
What’s something that a prospective student may miss out on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They should definitely check out King Street, but hopefully everyone who visits will go there. Also, make sure to see The Battery because you see the side of Charleston that’s not the city. It’s really beautiful, it draws you in.
Reasons to attend College of Charleston:
1. It was voted the most beautiful campus in America by Travel and Leisure.
2. It’s a small school, but not too small that you know every single person. I definitely have felt comfortable here. I haven’t felt overwhelmed in any classes, so I’ve really liked that. [There are about 9,900 undergraduate students at College of Charleston.]
3. I like that balance between the social scene and the academic scene. People here will spend Monday through Wednesday in the library and then Thursday through Saturday going out. I like that balance a lot.
Reasons to not attend College of Charleston:
1. If you aren’t looking for an expensive college experience and if you’re looking to save money.
2. If you want to live on campus for more than one year, that could be an issue.
3. If you’re looking for a school where you can skip class and just come and take a test, that’s definitely not here. All of my professors take attendance and there are attendance policies in most of my classes. It’s a school where you have to go to class.