College of Charleston
BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2022
First-Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: All boys private school in Cincinnati, Ohio with a graduating class of about 400 students. There was a culture of going to college.
Majors: Finance and Data Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Data Science Club, ImpactX, a business fraternity, and I’m also rushing a [social] fraternity.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
[My business fraternity] has connected me to other highly motivated students who are doing interesting things in the business school. It’s given me a pretty good social group as well. I have a leadership role in ACM taking care of the finances for the club. This has taught me a lot about handling money on a small scale, managing other people and my time, alongside managing my academics.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
As a first-year student, I haven’t taken any major classes at all, so I can’t really speak to any length about what those classes are like. I’ve just basically taken general education courses. I’m currently taking ImpactX, which is a startup accelerator that goes toward my Finance major. My team is starting a company and going through that whole process, then around April, we’ll have a demo day where we pitch our product to investors.
How would you describe the learning environment in your major? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’m in the Honors College, and I would say the school in general isn’t highly competitive. In fact, I think it’s more difficult for people than I expected coming into it, but I wouldn’t call it competitive. On the other hand, I’d say the Honors College is moderately competitive. You have to put more time into your studies to get the same results as non-honors classes. There are also a lot of other requirements as an honors college student.
How accessible are the professors in your department?
Extremely. For me, I took advantage of the fact that all of the professors are extremely eager to help any of their students, but especially ones that show initiative and care. I have a few professors who I consider mentors, in addition to my advisor. They all help me and have offered me internship opportunities. They help me figure out what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, and will help me with assignments I’m struggling with. They are very engaged with any students that care.
Is there anything you feel the business school has done especially well or poorly?
There is some sort of a noticeable difference between the honors college and the regular students pertaining to the attention they get from the school. I think it’s very helpful to have that title. One of the main reasons I decided to come to Charleston was I got into the honors college, and I’ve heard these students get a lot more attention. My friends who aren’t honors students feel a little differently, and it’s more difficult for them to seek out advice or help because there are so many students for the advisors to keep track of.
Something they’ve done very well is setting up opportunities. They really push internships and other opportunities for experiential learning, such as going to extra speaking events. They have really great speakers in the business school that anyone can go to. I’ve felt very well connected to the community and beyond.
Why did you choose your combination of majors?
I’m business minded but am really interested in Computer Science. It’s an extremely difficult major, and Finance is also difficult. I didn’t want to do both of those, especially because the classes don’t line up. Data Science has slightly less material than a Computer Science major, so that was the way I saw I could be involved in both aspects without having to take an insane amount of credit hours.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Joe E. Berry Hall. There are three rooms, and I have five suitemates. I share a bathroom with three guys.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Ohio to Charleston, SC?
I think that even though Charleston is a city, it tends to be less urban than where I’m from. Having the beach around is really nice, and the weather is awesome. Location-wise it’s been pretty easy. Charleston is a very comfortable place, and there’s a lot for everyone.
Can you describe the level of safety you have experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had or heard of any sort of problems. Whether it’s smart or not, I walk by myself at night and don’t feel unsafe.
Pros and cons of being in Charleston, SC?
1) The weather
2) The beach
3) The architecture is awesome
1) There are hurricanes and sometimes floods
2) It’s kind of expensive
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
The party scene is okay. It helps to be in a fraternity, but it’s not completely necessary to find stuff to do. Other than that, sometimes I’ll go out, but I generally hang out with friends at their houses.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Lately, I’ve been pretty busy so just Friday and Saturday. The first semester I used to go out Wednesday through Saturday.
Do you feel limited in the sense that because you’re not 21 you can’t go to the King Street bars?
I wouldn’t say I feel limited, but it’ll definitely be nice to be 21.
What’s the alternative of going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
The music scene is extremely lacking. Coming from Ohio, we’d have some good people that come through either in Columbus or Cincinnati. I love going to concerts, and there’s basically nothing like that here. As far as the school events go, I don’t really go to those. I know there’s a lot of people that go and enjoy them, but it’s not my scene. Other than going out, sometimes I’ll just hang out and play video games with people.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Charleston? Is there anything you would change?
I’d say there’s a bigger bar scene. It would be nice if they had more bars that are 18+. I don’t know of any, except for on specific nights where there are 18+ events. Fraternities aren’t really big here, but it seems like they are because there aren’t a ton of other parties unless you’re on a sports team. It pushes a lot of people to join frats, which is fine, but I think a lot of people just aren’t into that, and their freedom to do what they want in their personal time is limited by it.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Just in the dorms. I was really skeptical of living in a dorm, but I had to this year. I met all my best friends either there, in the business fraternity that I’m in, or during the first few weeks of going out and meeting people at parties.
How would you describe the social scene at Charleston?
It’s pretty active. It’s not a college town where there are huge parties all the time. It’s tamer than a lot of other Southern schools, and we also don’t have a football team so we miss that aspect, which doesn’t bother me. Generally, there is something for everyone.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
A lot. I think that’s one of the things Charleston is criticized for, and it’s completely false. I’ve been to a lot of different colleges to visit people, so I know a lot of their experiences. I think the College of Charleston is one of the most accepting of diverse groups I’ve seen, especially in the South. [Minority groups make up 20% of the college.]
How would you describe the student body?
It’s tough because there are a lot of different types of people. For the most part, I’m surprised again at how I wouldn’t really call this a party school, despite the acceptance rate being really high. I think a lot of students really care about their academics and their future. Especially in the business school, everyone is really professional, but also everyone likes to have fun. There’s lots of stuff to do in Charleston. [In 2019, the acceptance rate is 79%.]
How do you like the size of your school in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
I think it’s perfect. It doesn’t feel like high school where I see the same faces every day. There are definitely a ton of people to meet. So far, I haven’t had a class over 25-30 people. Also, the professors have a smaller pool of students to be attentive to, so that helps as well. They have time for everyone who seeks out their time, at least in my experience. [There are about 9,900 undergraduate students at College of Charleston, with a 14.5 to 1 Student to Faculty Ratio.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
One of my professors hooked me up with a guy who brought his company from Charlotte down to Charleston. He was looking to hire some interns, and it’s a good paying job, but it’s a job I’m probably not qualified for. Because one of my professors vouched for me, I actually got the job, and it’s going great. Also, another one of my professors who’s a mentor pushes networking and using LinkedIn to its fullest capacity, and just going out and meeting people. I’ve had opportunities to apply to a ton of different internships even as a freshman. Another thing is I’m going abroad this summer for a pitch contest through the School of Entrepreneurship, which is another thing I wouldn’t have done without the help of the professors and other faculty here.
Have you learned any computer programs that are helpful or will be helpful to you professionally?
Not through any classes, but I’ve learned how to use Excel better through my position in ACM. I’m in the process of learning Python, and I will be learning Java, SQL, and R.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What’s something you wish you knew about College of Charleston before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that as far as social life goes, fraternities are a much bigger deal than people told me before. I wasn’t planning on joining one, but I incidentally am going to now. Not because I feel like I’m missing out, but it would be nice to be part of one. Also, the food is terrible. Charleston itself has some of the best food, but the dining halls have the worst food ever.
What is something a prospective student going into the honors college may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
If you’re debating on whether or not to join the honors college, I think it’s a must. If you’re looking at College of Charleston and you’re a pretty highly motivated person that’s able to get into it, there’s no reason not to. I think they tell you it’s not more work, and that you just have more people looking after you, but it’s definitely more work. It’s a lot more than they advertise, but it’s not a bad thing.
What’s something that a prospective student may miss out on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Don’t limit yourself to just the school. The campus is beautiful, but just walk around the rest of Charleston and see what it has to offer. Most of the time, if you’re out doing stuff you won’t be on campus, you’ll be walking around King Street, down the Battery, or just at the beach.
Reasons to attend College of Charleston:
1) You get a ton of connections, and it’s super helpful.
2) The faculty is really eager to help you. If you connect with them and put forth an effort, then they’re going to be there to help you along the way.
3) The business school is pretty amazing, specifically the ImpactX program. [Not many people] can say they’ve started a company in college, and it looks good on a resume.
Reasons to not attend College of Charleston:
1) If you’re looking for a college to go to that’s an Ivy or a name brand school, it’s not the place for you. People don’t think of the College of Charleston as having very rigorous academics.
2) If you’re not prepared to get yourself out there and get after it, you can get lost pretty easy. Your professors won’t give you the time of day if you’re not trying your best.
3) If you’re looking for a party school, it’s fun, but it’s not all [it’s made out to be.]