Colorado School of Mines
BackgroundInterview Date:February 2020
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Public high school in Glastonbury, CT with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a sorority and I’m also on the club ski team.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Both of them have. I’d recommend club sports to anyone because being on a team really brings people together. Greek life is also super helpful because if you have questions about classes or professors you can go to them. It’s also really good for social stuff because it brings people out. Some of my closest friends I’ve met in Greek life, so I’d really recommend that to anyone who’s interested in it.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It’s definitely a lot of coursework. I spend a lot of my time doing homework, which a lot of people get frustrated by and I do to, but, I don’t really mind it as much because it’s stuff that I’m interested in. We have a lot of textbook work and online homework, and there are also frequent quizzes and tests. There are a lot fewer labs for Mechanical Engineering than Chemical Engineering and majors like that. A good portion of our final grade is usually homework and tests. Tests are usually the biggest portion of your grade, but there are some classes that are more project-based, but only about one in five classes are like that.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I like the classes that are project-based better because I feel like you learn a lot through those and it’s more realistic and [representative of] what it will be like when we’re mechanical engineers. I wish we had more classes like that, but I think that as I get further into the major I’ll see more of those classes.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s a lot more collaborative than competitive at this school. Everyone is working together to get something done and everyone’s willing to answer your questions if you have them. Everyone’s there to help you, which I really appreciate as the classes get harder.
How accessible are your professors?
They’re very accessible. All of the professors have office hours a couple of times a week and if you can’t make office hours, you can just email them. I have never had a problem finding a professor if I need help.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I came into Mines with Mechanical Engineer chosen as my major because I did some similar stuff in high school and really liked it. I considered changing my major to Physics as soon as I got here because I really like physics and I wanted to teach it, but I never changed it and now I feel like I’m too far deep in credits to change it. I like the Mechanical Engineering major and I like the idea of being able to build things and improve things.
What is your favorite part of the academics at Colorado School of Mines?
I really like how easy it is to find people to do work with and do homework with. Every homework assignment I do I don’t do alone, which I really appreciate because it’s really helpful to learn with other people through homework. That’s my favorite part. It’s more of a togetherness thing as opposed to struggling on your own.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Thomas Hall, which is one of the traditional halls. I was supposed to have two roommates but neither of them showed up so I had a single.
Sophomore: In my sorority house with one roommate
How was transitioning from your hometown in Glastonbury, CT to Golden, CO in terms of location?
It was definitely a big change because Connecticut is very different from Colorado. The transition wasn’t too hard and I really much prefer Colorado because of the mountains. I love skiing in the mountains, and that’s a lot better here than in Connecticut. The weather is also a lot better because it hardly ever rains here and it is always sunny, which is my favorite thing ever.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt unsafe on campus. I don’t know anyone personally who has had things happen to them either. We get alerts when things happen so we can watch out for things, but they rarely happen.
Pros and cons of being located in Golden, CO?
1) The weather is a big pro because it’s always sunny here.
2) It’s really close to Denver and Boulder. It’s about a 40-minute drive to Boulder and a 30-minute drive to Denver.
3) It’s pretty close to the mountains. If you like skiing or hiking, it’s about an hour away from the mountains.
1) It’s dry. The fact that it’s dry is not good for my skin.
2) It’s a small town so there’s not quite as much to do.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
During the second semester, I go skiing pretty much every weekend. At the beginning of the semester, I go with the club ski team, and then after I go skiing with my friends for fun. The ski season ends when the school year ends in May, so I just keep going until the school year ends. During the first semester, I go hiking or go I to Boulder or Denver. For nightlife, the school doesn’t have much nightlife. I know some of the upperclassmen go out to bars and stuff, but we don’t have much of that on campus. If there’s something going on, it’s a house party or something more laidback at a friend’s house in town. The houses are more off-campus.
What is the impact of Greek life on the weekend options?
There are Greek life parties and you can go to those, and that is mostly a freshman and sophomore year thing. After that, people more go to bars off-campus. There is definitely something you can do every weekend at one of the fraternity’s but I don’t go to those anymore because I got bored with them.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Colorado School of Mines? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I’m pretty happy with the weekend options because I mostly just go skiing. If I could change anything, I’d want to be a little closer to the mountains because I-70 can be kind of terrible sometimes.
If at all, how has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience? Is there much of an LGBT nightlife scene on campus?
Honestly, it hasn’t influenced me at all. I don’t even know what an LGBT nightlife scene here would entail [laughs].
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends from living on the same floor as hem freshman year, and also through Greek life and club sports.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Colorado School of Mines?
I would say the social scene is kind of lacking, but It’s not negative. There’s not a lot going on, which a lot of people might take as a bad thing but it’s not a bad thing here. People are nice and friendly and it’s okay that there’s not a lot going on.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s very, very White, so that’s a big problem. Honestly, I don’t see too many people of other races, but when I do see them, they are mixed in. Like, I have some friends who are African-American and Asian and I haven’t noticed people not mixing. For different sexual orientations, I haven’t noticed a problem with that either. I have friends that are straight and friends that are gay. [The undergraduate population is about 70% White, 10.5% Hispanic, 1% Black, and 4.5% Asian.]
How would you describe the LGBT+ community on campus? How strong is it?
I would say it’s pretty strong. The organizations for the LGBT community aren’t very prominent on campus, but I have friends that are gay and straight and we’re all friends.
How would you describe the student body?
I think people here are kind of negative about Mines, which I don’t like a lot. But, I also have friends that are positive towards Mines and like being here. Since it’s considered a hard school and it’s a STEM school, people can be negative and say, “I wish I went to a place like CU-Boulder where people are happy.” That’s about half of the people here, which is not great.
How do you like the size of Colorado School of Mines in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has it impacted your experience? [There are about 5,150 students at Colorado School of Mines.]
I really like the size of Mines. It’s a really good size because you can walk from one side of campus to the other and it’s about a mile. I also have friends in all of my classes. On the first day of classes, I walk in and I’ll know someone in all of them, which is really nice. It’s nice to have friends everywhere and see people that you recognize all over campus. [Colorado School of Mines’ campus is 373 acres.]
How has the 70:30 Male-Female ratio impacted your experience?
That’s part of the reason why I joined Greek life, I realized that all of my classes were all guys. If you’re a girl applying to Mines, I would recommend looking into Greek life because it’s a good way to make some friends that are girls. In general, it hasn’t affected me too much because I have friends that are guys and friends that are girls. I see a lot more of my friends that are guys because they’re in my classes. But it doesn’t bother me, so it’s not a big deal.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful are they?
I’ve used the career office for help with my resume and also help with finding an internship, and they were really helpful. I have an internship for this summer, which is really nice, and they helped me build my resume and with my interview skills. They were really helpful.
Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
Last semester I learned MATLAB and in the semester before I learned Mathematica.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Colorado School of Mines before entering as a freshman?
I wish I’d known there wasn’t so much of a party lifestyle here as there is at other schools. I wish I knew that didn’t exist at Mines as much.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would check out the [Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC)]. They have a lot of trips that they offer that are really cheap and have students lead the trips. I think it’s really cool. I have some friends that work there and have gone on some trips with them. I wish I knew more about that before coming here.
Reasons to attend Colorado School of Mines:
1) It’s really well-known, especially in Colorado. You’re going to get a job when you get out of school, which is a really good thing to know. [For 2018-19, 95% of students had jobs after graduation.]
2) Colorado is one of my favorite states I’ve ever been to. If you like skiing, I would recommend coming here.
3) If you’re interested in engineering or STEM in general, I would come to Mines because it’s a really good school for that.
4) It’s nice to be in a setting where everyone is studying the same thing as everyone else because everyone can help you get through.
Reasons to not attend Colorado School of Mines:
1) If you’re looking for a party school, then I wouldn’t come here just because there definitely isn’t a lot of that.